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NAAM is an organization that promotes self-governance and supports local farmers and village communities in Western Africa. The name of the organization is based on the tradition of Kombi-Naam, a traditional village organization which consisted of young men and women undertaking various activities and having highly developed cooperative characteristics. This was called "Kombi-Naam". In the Kombi-Naam, all were equal, regardless of gender, class, caste and wealth.


NAAM was founded in 1967 by Bernard Ledea Ouedraogo, a teacher that tried to teach village communities farming techniques in Burkina Faso in the fifties. To his astonishment the village communities were not able to work with his western management approach. To find out why his approach was not working, Ouedraogo immersed in the local culture and he discovered that the villagers worked with the principles of the Kombi-Naam tradition, a model that shows many similarities with that of a cooperative. Ouedraogo decided to adapt to local customs and habits and integrate the NAAM-method. This caused a huge breakthrough.


A Kombi-Naam group practiced a qualitative democracy: people were chosen not for their position in the social hierarchy but for their moral qualities. The NAAM-method promotes dynamic and local leadership, respects and cherishes the traditional values of the community, forbids all forms of exclusion and discrimination and provides training and motivational programs that are set up from within the community itself. The philosophy behind the NAAM-movement is to make the village responsible for its own development, developing without destroying, starting from the peasant: act on the basis of what people are, what he is (based on their African identity), what he knows (respect traditional knowledge), what he knows how to do (rediscovery of traditional techniques), how he lives and what he wants.


According to the NAAM-tradition a delegate may only represent a community if he or she has the following qualifications:

1. language - they should be able to make a convincing argument without haughtiness;

2. the heart - they need to master love and anger;

3. the belly - representing altruism, a sharing of riches, food and ideas with others;

4. competence – they need to be able to perform the tasks confided in them.


This approach has clearly paid off in recent decades. NAAM is currently one of the largest farmers' organizations in West Africa, has no less than 85 national and 11 international unions with nearly 5,500 local grassroots groups and over 650,000 members.


The core of NAAM is formed by local village groups. Each group consists of at least 50 members of which five members are elected as group representatives. These representatives act as spokespersons and intermediaries towards sister organizations and all groups have representatives on regional, national and international levels.


Thanks to the effective bundling of local power, NAAM is able to support local farmers and village communities in the form of targeted assistance such as customized training, education and work programs. Also larger projects are addressed by NAAM such as the building, management and maintenance of dikes by local communities in order to reclaim farmland.


In all these projects, the role and importance of the local population is key. Activities are always focused on increasing individual and collective security of residents and strengthening of economic and social solidarity. The aim is to set up autonomous communities that are self-sufficient in food, labour and finance. NAAM has programs for maternal and child health; is campaigning against circumcision; provides information about AIDS; promotes art, culture and language skills; runs and builds warehouses, workshop and community buildings, dams and wells. They have a village health agent, pharmacopoeias, and a cereal bank. The cereal bank allows peasants to avoid purchasing grain from the market in the end of dry season when prices are at their highest.


The method of NAAM has been adopted in many African countries, including Senegal, Benin, Mali, Togo, Niger, Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau and Gambia.


According to Ouedraogo the NAAM-method promotes self-government in order to protect local communities against destructive influences from outside.


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Type of initiative Information/network organization, Other (specify): Farmer Bases Organisation
Field of work Agriculture, Manufacturing, Trade, Education, Knowledge and information, Healthcare
Date of commencement 1967
Founder(s) Bernard Ledea Ouedraogo
Legal form Federation
Continent Africa
Country Burkina Faso
City Ouahigouya
One or several keywords that describe your initiative Farmer Based Organisation; community building, autonomy, self governance
Publications Radio La Voix du Paisan, books, papers, educational material
More information

Contact person(s)

Mr. Hermann Togo, Program director


Contact information

Name FNGN - Fédération Nationale des Groupements NAAM
Address B.P. 100, Rue 2-24
Zip/postal code
Place Ouahigouya
Country Burkina Faso
Phone 00226-40550411



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