In September 2017, I supported Interpeace and Indigo Côte d'Ivoire in producing a mapping of the social dynamics affecting the city of Abidjan, home to more than 8 million people in the heart of Western Africa.
Six years after the civil war in Ivory Coast, Abidjan remains a city where social cohesion is challenged on every street, with criminal groups and youth gangs (known as "microbes" or germs) fighting for the control of the territory and business.
Social initiatives in Abidjan carry heavy political implications. With the arrival of the multi-party system in Côte d’Ivoire, politicians across the country began making use of their community and ethnic identities to build their support base. Community initiatives became an opportunity for them to spread their message and individual politicians began being seen as flag-bearers of a particular community’s needs. Today, community initiatives are scrutinised not only in terms of the material gains they provide, but also in terms of "who is behind it?": which leader is behind the initiative and which community do they belong to? How has that leader (and by extension, that community) treated us in the past?