Cultural development in Grand Ouaga: A city of well-being and social cohesion planning
1. Ouagadougou and culture
Ouagadougou is the capital of Burkina Faso and has a population of 3 million comprised of different ethnic groups, with 60% of the population under 25 years old. It is a cosmopolitan crossroads city. Creative and dissemination activities in visual arts, bronze work, music, theatre, and cinema are carried out alongside popular activities and traditions. The city is known for its cultural vitality, but it is also renowned for its festivals in cinema, music, dance, theatre, and handicrafts. Its cultural dynamism and the cooperation of its cultural sectors with the public authorities lends the city its regional influence. In 2009 it earned the title of cultural capital awarded by the Observatory of Cultural Policies in Africa. Then, in 2017 it was inducted as a member in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
However, COVID-19 and strict national border measures led to a drastic reduction in work for artists given the cancellation of concerts, events, and artistic exchange projects. This led to increased unemployment and economic uncertainty for the cultural sector. In response, several funds aimed at strengthening the resilience of artists and professionals have been created. The “President’s Special Support Fund for the Revival of the Cultural Sector”; the fund for the economic recovery of struggling companies in difficulty; and support from the Burkinabe Copyright Office.
Similarly, the implementation of the program “Cultural Development in Grand Ouaga: A City of Well-Being and Social Cohesion” sought to improve access for, and participation by, inhabitants in districts lacking adequate infrastructure. This addressed the “Arts and Culture” and “Youth and Jobs” initiatives under the 2016-2021 Mandate Program adopted in 2016. Overall, the program views cultural life as a right, and therefore seeks to ensure people’s ability to access and participate in it, subsequently fulfilling SDGs 4, 8, and 10 of the United Nations 2030 Agenda.
The goal of the program is to contribute to the cultural development of Greater Ouaga in order to reduce inequalities around access to art and culture.
2. Project goals and implementation
2.1. Main goal and specific objectives
The objective of the program is to contribute to the cultural development of Greater Ouaga in order to reduce inequalities around access to art and culture for the inhabitants, 60% of whom are under 25 years old. The program aims to provide each district with a communal square, spaces for artistic learning for youth, knowledge centres, and multimedia spaces.
2.2. Project development
The program focuses particularly on populations in several of the city’s districts, including cultural actors and promoters, artists, youth, groups, schools and cultural associations, families, and ultimately, the youth living in districts where cultural spaces are located. It is this latter group that will be able to participate regularly in the proposed cultural events and initiatives.
The implementation of this program offers several lines of action, including the creation of communal squares in districts 9 and 11 (spaces equipped for artistic practice, dissemination, and competitions); the creation of a space for artistic learning dedicated to children (Grand Ouaga “Kaamb Béogo”: spaces for games, creative leisure, artistic learning dedicated to youth); as well as the creation of knowledge centres and multimedia spaces (centres equipped with computer equipment and internet that are available to the public in an effort to democratize access to digital technology, develop digital literacy, promote the emergence of projects, and to develop a cultural digital economy).
This program is made possible through collaboration with artists and cultural actors, promoters, and entrepreneurs; cultural associations and federations; the Chamber of Commerce; the business centre; banks and financial institutions; technical and financial partners; and ministries. Ultimately, the project will reduce inequalities in local cultural development, maintaining the city’s role as a leading African cultural capital.
The program aims to provide each district with a communal square, spaces for artistic learning for youth, knowledge centres, and multimedia spaces.
3.1. Direct impacts
Significant impacts include the satisfaction of the municipal authorities with the governance and capacity-building strategies by municipal actors in charge of implementing the project, and the improved structure of municipal services in response to the challenge of improving the conditions around access to cultural services and rights. The project has also made it possible to set up frameworks for artistic expression and to strengthen the capacities for artistic and cultural dissemination and training. Finally, the implementation of the facilities has improved the living environment for the local population as well as bolstered social cohesion.
The assessment is based on the tools created to collect data both quantitatively (questionnaires) and qualitatively (interviews) to assess the relevance of policies, programs, or projects, based on the following:
- Number of cultural facilities built;
- Number of festivals and cultural events held in these cultural spaces;
- Number of artists and cultural operators using these spaces;
- Attendance of cultural events by the inhabitants;
- Number of women and youth affected by these spaces.
3.3. Key factors
- Cultural vitality of the city;
- Expansion of the municipal territory;
- The population’s growth and young age;
- Regularity of cultural events and initiatives;
- Popular cultural and artistic practices that identify the city;
- Capacity of operators to mobilize financial resources;
- Strong demand for and consumption of local cultural products with a strong identity;
- Development of major cultural initiatives by civil society organizations.
To achieve its goal of making culture one of the levers for urban economic and social development, the City Council will need to maintain its cultural development program by:
- Identifying other boroughs for cultural amenities;
- Setting up a Steering Committee in charge of searching for alternative projects and new funding mechanisms with partner communities;
- Organizing consultations to expand public, private, national, and international partnerships;
- Facilitating buy-in and ownership of the program by engaging in a broad-based consultation process with other stakeholders.
The project will reduce inequalities in local cultural development, maintaining the city's role as a leading African cultural capital.
4. Further information
Ouagadougou was a candidate for the fifth UCLG Mexico City – Culture 21 International Award (February - June 2022). The jury for the award drew up its final report in September of 2022, and requested that the UCLG Committee on Culture promote this project as one of the good practices implemented under Agenda 21 for culture.
This report was written by Harouna Ramde, Director of Culture and Tourism Development, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
Contact: ramdeharouna (at) yahoo.fr