Pas en Avant: Community Integration through Dance-Based Pedagogy in the Lake Chad Region

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Sch of Performance & Cultural Industries


How can teaching and learning be delivered in communities where schools have been destroyed by war? This is precisely the problem in the case of the Lake Chad conflict, affecting millions of children and women in particular, across various countries (including Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad). Not only is the degradation and regression of Lake Chad generating economic, social and political instability in and between these countries; furthermore, insecurity has been aggravated by the emergence of terrorist militancy in the region. Children in the Lake Chad region have been deprived of their right to education in order to be used as forced labour, as soldiers, or as sex slaves. It is not only formal education that will provide a solution for the local refugee population, particularly since there is no secondary school in the single UNCHR camp found in the lake region of Chad. Non-formal education can be implemented bottom-up, so that communities can enjoy their human right to social and cultural education, through autochthonous forms of knowledge production and sharing. The proposed training and evaluation to be conducted in the chosen beneficiary communities will ensure long-term continuity of NSN's work. Implementation of dance-based pedagogy in the region will greatly support community building and social stabilisation. This project will be delivered by an expert international team of social artists and community workers based in Chad, with support from network members in the UK and in neighbouring Nigeria.

Because our leading partner and friend Taigue Ahmed has family in the lake Chad, we have been granted access by the Ministry of Interior to this currently militarised zone. During meetings held in N'Djamena in May, we consulted UNCHR Chad (Nde Ndifonka) on the issue of logistics, facilitation and security. We have been assured that since the 2016 visit by the High Commissioner to Baga Sola, the UNCHR camp is completely safe for international media and researchers, and that very effective security measures will be in place for us.

In order to inform the preparation of this bid, we held a weeklong exchange with refugees from Maro and Belom camps (located in the border with the Central African Republic). This event was held as part of the previous AHRC network that feeds this proposal. This preliminary meeting has illuminated us on, and given us a sobering insight into, the extraordinary power of dance to transform lives in the region. Twenty-five refugees made an eighteen-hour bus journey in the scorching heat (up to 47 C), to be part of a weeklong series of dance workshops led by Ahmed and his team of social artists. When asked why make such extraordinary effort, the refugees replied: "dance gives us strength and energy as a group"' "otherwise we are alone". One woman said that through dance, the refugee community can collectively express their message: "There is hope for integration". That woman, aged twenty, was attending with her four year-old. Many participants have suffered facial and body mutilation and trauma. To see them laugh, relax, focus and learn, is significant. To conduct contact work, massage, trust exercises, attention and posturing work, reminds us of the power of dance to break barriers and achieve real impact in the physical and mental lives of people living in conflict. Crucially, this work is being transmitted to the children present, especially given the support provided by members of Association Tchado-Stars, who apply NSN pedagogy to support homeless children.

NSN's "pedagogy for life" is a unique model for social and cultural learning. It achieves humane sensitisation, peace, community building, and resilience. Moreover, with support from Tchado-Stars, NSN supports the integration of young learners within formal education, given strong links with local schools in N'Djamena. This project will ensure long term sustainability and replicability of NSN pedagogy in Chad and beyond.

Planned Impact

Impact generation has been mapped to Ndam Se Na's five key challenges:

1) Community building
2) Violence Prevention
3) Trauma Therapy
4) Interethnic dialogue
5) Local cultural valorisation

We propose four sets of impact-generating activities to address these challenges. Thus, this project will enable us to conduct:

- Community workshops to be led by Taigue Ahmed and his team, plus external support from invited international artists Fabrice don de Dieu (Democratic Republic of Congo) and Sunday Akpan Israel (Nigeria).
- Community forums, to be led by Roméo Koïbé Madjilem (University of N'Djamena) and Uche Okpara (University of Leeds).
- Training program for four new unnamed Ndam Se Na trainees, led by Taigue and his team.
- Public dissemination and end-of-project event to be held at the Institut Francais, in N'Djamena.

The above-mentioned activities will lead to the generation of community impact, addressing the challenge-led research conducted by local stakeholders. More specifically, the workshops will contribute to community-building in the target locations via the creation of open spaces for interaction between refugees and non-refugees (Challenge 1). The three proposed workshops will also have an impact on the mental and physical well-being of participants-- an estimated 500+ (Challenge 2). Meanwhile, the forums (or group discussions) will contribute to improvement of social stability and peace-building through the promotion of dialogue and mutual listening (Challenge 4). The training programme for four new social artists is designed to have an impact in terms of local cultural valorisation and autochthonous knowledge (Challenge 5), which is key to the promotion of dignity and resilience among local communities.

In addition, the proposed training scheme will ensure "capacity building" through a proposed shadowing initiative. Trainees will be asked to select a shadow trainee from within the local communities to ensure continuity and autonomy. The shadow trainee will be a child, and will be mentored not only by Ahmed and his team members. The shadow trainee will also receive specialised guidance from members of Tchado-Stars, who since 2011 have customised the NSN dance pedagogy in order to apply it to social work conducted among homeless and school-deprived young learners (aged 5-17).

This project will also generate academic and public impact through high-quality dissemination events. In order to maximise audience outreach, we will organise a talk in a major London venue, to be organised in conjunction with Team Advisory Member Tom Green, and within the context of Platforma's Refugee Week program (2019). Platforma, who was a project partner in our previous AHRC network, manages Refugee Week activities for South Bank Centre, V&A, and British Museum (see Letter of Support for details).

Finally, we will deliver an end of project and public event organised by Ndam Se Na to be held at Institut Francais, who hosted us for our previous AHRC project meeting (see This end-of-project event will involve performance work and Q-and-A sessions that will showcase the summative creative work of trainees, refugees, host communities, and partner artists.


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Title Covid-19 street workshops, N'Djamena 
Description Artistic workshops were conducted with Association Ndamsena during December 2020, to sensitise the public to Covid-19 pandemic, through street dance and mime. Member of the public watched from their windows as performers illustrated the importance of using hand sanitation and facial masks among some of the most deprived quarters in N'Djamena. Masks were handed out freely during these workshops 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact The population in the N'Djamena quarter of Chagoua especially benefitted from these workshops, as did the dancers and performers associated with Ndamsena who took part, given the experience of conducting social art work as part of their training with Ndamsena. Over 500 people witnessed these street workshops. 
Title Site specific performance 
Description Iyal Hille Theatre performed a short piece of testimonial theatre based on accounts made by former combatants of Boko Haram. The piece, entitled Assalam, was performed in four different public sites in Chagoua quarter (N'Djamena) to an estimated audience of 650 people. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact The work has had a significant impact in the methodological aspects of the work conducted by Iyal Hille in the Lake Chad conflict zone, and their commitment to peace communication and de-radicalisation in the Lac region using theatre. 
Title Stage Performance 
Description Troupe Théâtrale Iyal Hille De Bol performed 'Assalam' at Institut Francais du Tchad on Ferbuary 9th 2020. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact Sensitisation of general public to voices of ex-combatants of the Boko Haram group and the dangers of radicalisation. 
Description The Pas en Avant method is a powerful tool for sensitisation, community building and informal education in refugee camps and other sites characterised by conflict. Its efficacy lies in the power of movement and rhythm to bypass spoken language, and the difficulties that language can produce in multi-ethnic and multi-linguistic regions where such issues are factors for conflict exacerbation (Chad, Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria). The method is also effective because it draws on local community values and practices (Traditional and ritual dance and rhythm, cultural gesture and cultural semiotics) to develop protocols for co-habitation and trust-building within communities affected by violence. This project has shown that the method is transferable to practices outside the Lake Chad region, and that it can begin to influence policy on the value of arts and creativity in humanitarian and military peace-keeping at UN level.
Exploitation Route Through incorporation of the PeA framework within UNESCO's Art-Lab initiative. This will be be discussed in a Jamming Session to be funded by UNESCO in N'Djamena in Febrar 2021.
Sectors Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description The methodology is being now used by practitioners across sub-Saharan Africa (Baidy Ba Senegal; Bibata Ibrahim Mali, Julie Iasora Madagascar; Bienvenu Ndoubabe CAR and Olivier Gansare Burkina Faso).
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural

Description Policy report for UNHCR Chad
Geographic Reach Africa 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Our report to UNHCR Chad on how to conduct cultural engagement and sensitisation within refugee camps is being adopted by other operators seeking to carry out work in similar settings. Likewise, the international nature of this train the trainee programme has led to participation of social artists from five other sub-Saharan countries (Burkina, Senegal, Central African Republic, Mali and Madagascar) all of whom will implement the Pas en Avant method in their countries.
Description Drying Prayers
Amount € 13,000 (EUR)
Organisation German National Theatre and Weimar State Orchestra 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country Germany
Start 08/2019 
End 09/2020
Title Pas en Avan 
Description PeA is an informal pedagogical method for social work in refugee camps and fragile communities using movement-based techniques. During this award the pedagogy was applied within the context of theatre for peace. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Implementation in creative work across the Lake Chad region for promotion of peace and de-radicalisation messages. 
Title Train the trainee programme 
Description Pas en Avant training was also delivered to Iyal Hille de Bol theatre troupe between January 22 and February 14th 2020. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Enhacement of deradicalisation practice through performing arts in the Lake Chad region. 
Title Train the trainee programme 
Description The main output of this award was a train the trainee programme conducted between April 20 and May 20, 2019. The programme featured five social artists from different countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The participants were Olivier Gansaore (Burkina), Baidy Ba (Senegal), Bibata Ibrahim (Mali), Bienvenu Ndoubabe (CAR), and Julie Iaosara (Madagascar) who attended the traning programme in N'Djamena before conducted practical workshops in three different UNHCR refugee camps in Chad (Dar es Salaam, Amboko and Gondje). The programme involved teaching the theory and practice behind Pas en Avant, an informal movement-based pedagogy for sensitisation and informal education in refugee camps. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The method is now being implemented by the trained social artists in Senegal, Burking, CAR, Mali, and Madagascar. 
Description Association Ndamsena 
Organisation Association Ndam Se NA
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Internationalisation, capacity building, asset development.
Collaborator Contribution Accommodation space, transfers (car), food and water, internet access.
Impact Train the trainee programme (Pas en Avant international) Train the trainee programme (Iyal Hille de Bol) Performance of Assalam Community engagement in 3 refugee camps in Chad Workshops in Coventry University and University of Roehampton Drying Prayers documentary dance and touring production UNHCR policy report UNESCO Art Lab directorate
Start Year 2019
Description Centre de Recherche en Anthropologie et Sciences Humaines 
Organisation Centre de Recherche en Anthropologie et Sciences Humaines
Country Chad 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Our contributions have advanced the internationalisation agenda of CRASH, and have enhanced their community based work in Lake Chad.
Collaborator Contribution CRASH have provided invaluable support in event organisation (Network meetings) and logistics for fieldwork, as well as support in risk management and ethical clearance protocols.
Impact Board meetings Collaborative fieldwork in Lake Chad Visit to Goudoumaria centre (Niger)
Start Year 2019
Description Institut Francais (Civil Society Organisation partner) 
Organisation French Institute in Chad
Country Chad 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We have facilitated workshops and provided links to operators, social artists and key stakeholders as part of public engagement events held at IFT (conference, performance and talks).
Collaborator Contribution IFT has supported our project by paying transport fees for participants involved in the performances and talks, and also by providing performance and rehearsal space, as well as meeting spaces, free of cost.
Impact Dance for a Life Festival 2018 Assalam performance
Start Year 2019
Description Radio Kadaye (CSO partner) 
Organisation Kadaye FM
Country Chad 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Workshop facilitation and capacity building.
Collaborator Contribution Radio Kadaye has contributed with meetings spaces, translation costs and equipment (microphones, broadcasting equipment, studio space).
Impact Live broadcasting.
Start Year 2019
Description UNHCR Humanitarian partners 
Organisation United Nations (UN)
Department United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Country Switzerland 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Our team has delivered several training programs, workshops and cultural activities.
Collaborator Contribution UNHCR has provided logistic support (travel intelligence) as well as risk management support and ethics clearance support. They have also facilitates spaces at the N'Djamena Headquarters, at their base in Baga Sola, and in various refugee camps where we have conducted work.
Impact Workshops in UNHCR camps of Dar es Salaam, Amboko and Gore.
Start Year 2019
Description Community engagement meetings 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Engagement activities led to dialogue with twelve former combatants of the Boko Haram group (9 men and 2 women) led by Mr Linga Barka, all living in villages near Bol in the Lake Chad.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
Description Radio broadcast 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Broadcast on Radio Nationale du Tchad
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019