“Biblio-Moto”: the mobile library that fascinates children in the streets of Ouagadougou.

A motorcycle, kids, some good music, books, that’s all there is to it.

Bringing the books to the children

Conventional libraries, which are usually located in buildings built for that purpose are slowly becoming obsolete. Mobile libraries are emerging, with the aim to bring books to public places that are initially not set up for reading. In Burkina Faso, the “Community Initiative to Change Life” (ICCV) Nasemsé, is designing a mobile library called “Biblio-moto”. The main purpose for this initiative is to make books available to children and to encourage them to practice reading. On August 18, 2020, we visited this innovative project at the premises of the ICCV-Nazemsé Association, which is located in the district of Cissin, Ouagadougou.

The Life Changing Community Initiative (ICCV) Nasemsé is a development association that was founded in 2002. Its main areas of intervention are education, food security, socioeconomic support for women and health. With the support of its partners such as the Sister Emmanuelle Association (ASMAE) and the French Development Agency (AFD), ICCV Nazemsé is implementing a project called “Reading for success”. This 3 years long project started in 2018, to be implemented through 2021, is at its second phase. In fact, the project was previously implemented for the first time from 2015 to 2018 and aimed at developing the skills of preschool and primary school children. This would result in the creation of a framework both encompassing an in-school and out-of-school environment to provide quality of learning through language and reading.

The BIBLIO-MOTO initiative derives from the above mentioned project to respond to the need of providing literacy to the inhabitants of the district in which the ICCV Association is located. In fact, most people in this area are illiterate and a big portion of them are children who have limited or no learning habits whatsoever. Biblio-moto was designed with the help of a metal engineer. It is a three-wheeled motorbike commonly called a “tricycle”, the interior of which has been set up into shelves on which the books are displayed. As a mobile library, the Biblio-Moto will then be driven around the neighbourhood to meet children and offer them to read the books. In addition to the reading, music is played and stories are said in order to attract curiosity and gather the kids and their parents around the place. A typical session will then comprise entertainment and ready, wherein the children will perform readings in the presence of the crowd which usually includes the parents. In the end, the purpose of the project is shared with all participants. Besides the Biblio Moto project, the ICCV Nazemse built in its headquarters in 2006, a standing library which has to this date around 10,000 subscribers. Each patron should afford a modest fee of 100CFA ($0.18) in order to be allowed to borrow a book from the biblio-moto or from the Gabriel Nacoulma library plus an endorsement of the parents. Ousmane SAWADOGO, education project manager Is celebrating the achievements of the project. Indeed, the 36 Biblio moto sessions started in june 2019, have reached over 946 parents, young people and children. It also covered several districts including the following: Samadin, Pissy, Cissin, Paglayiri, SongNaaba and Patte d’oie.

Expressing gratitude and satisfaction

The entire Life Changing Community Initiative team is unanimous as to their level of satisfaction with regards to this project. When interviewed, they asserted that they were extremely satisfied. According to them, their work contributes to a national value as the project aligns with the government’s strategic themes. The project has reached a level where people show up almost spontaneously as they feel excited about the idea. Every session is dragging more people coming to testify of this innovative project by themselves. As a matter of fact, the former Minister of Human Rights, Ms. Monique Ilboudo, has expressed the desire to order a mobile library for her own community. This is a proof that the project is valuable and thus makes the entire team happy. According to Theodore Salou, Program Officer, the target with the Biblio Moto project is to reach an audience of 1000 people every year.

Large-scale ambitions

As part of the “Reading for success” project, the ICCV is in partnership with five other libraries in the city of Ouagadougou. In substance, it works with 4 community libraries and the municipal media library of Ouagadougou with whom it focuses more on knowledge transfer. The goal is to operate in multiple neighborhoods, districts, villages and eventually the entire country. This will require a close collaboration with the government in the creation of book clubs especially at the sites where Internally displaced people are accommodated. Moreover, the participation and support of it’s long standing technical and financial partners, ASMAE and AFD, cannot be overstated. Subsequently, In addition to these, it seeks support from major book suppliers (publishing houses) and other financial partners.

Doing the work of the parents, ICCV Nazemsé provides the key to an efficient after school activity for the children. However, parents should be involved in monitoring the children’s school attendance rate. Moreover, they should often verify the kids, attendance sheet, notebooks, limit TV programs every evening and to do a children’s TV program. When offering the kids a gift, it is important to provide him Care should be taken to ensure that children read regularly, according to ICCV officials. They insist that when giving gifts to children, prioritize books. Because they say, “To hide the benefit of something from a child, you have to put it in a book.”

By Achille Sawadogo

Mandela Washington Fellow, for Young African Leaders — Civic engagement — Development Cooperation, Economist, Project Management skills, Free learner