Five inspiring stories of our Observers taking action to help the world in 2017

Women's rights, the environment, community projects: five initiatives from 2017 that have stood out.
Women's rights, the environment, community projects: five initiatives from 2017 that have stood out.

All around the world, individuals, organisations and small companies are taking action to fight for women's rights, the environment, the rights and dignity of refugees and many more worthy causes. We look back on five intiatives that we put in the spotlight as part of our Observers Take Action series in 2017.

The FRANCE 24 Observers started the Observers Take Action series in 2016 to put a focus on local projects that are working towards at least one of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. Thanks to our Observers on the ground, we wrote about more than 50 projects during 2017.

>> READ ON THE OBSERVERS: What is The Observers Take Action and how can you get involved?


ENVIRONMENT   In Ivory Coast, locals give their streets a new lick of paint

In April 2017, residents of Treichville, a borough in Ivory Coast's capital Abidjan, had had enough of their dilapidated, dirty neighbourhood. So they rolled up their sleeves and got to work - slapping a new lick of paint on every street, from the pavements right up to the eaves of houses. The project was recognised by the government, and when it had been finished, the Minister of Urban Hygiene Anne Ouloto and the country's first lady Dominique Ouattara came to the town to personally congratulate the workers.

WOMEN'S RIGHTS/HEALTH   In India, eco-friendly and healthy options for women's periods

In some of the poorer areas of India, many women don't have the money to buy sanitary pads or tampons to soak up their periods. Not only are these options expensive, but they are also polluting for the environment - even though they are often touted as the sole solution for a woman dealing with her period. So some organisations and start-ups have invented cheap and eco-friendly alternatives that all women can use.


MIGRATION/SOCIETY  MaybeHere, the website for finding migrants who have disappeared

In 2017, more than 3,000 people trying to migrate to Europe disappeared while they were crossing the Mediterranean, according to the International Organisation for Migration. A Syrian IT developer created a website to help the families looking for their loved ones. MaybeHere allows families and friends to post information about a missing person who tried to migrate. Thanks to the site, in September 2017 four people were found. We collaborated on this article with the website InfoMigrants.

>> Click on the image below to read the article.


WOMEN/SOCIETY   In the United States, the 'knitted knockers' for breast cancer survivors

The typical silicone plastic prostheses for women who have had mastectomies can be hot, sticky, and uncomfortable against scarring - not to mention expensive. One organisation in the States has created a softer alternative, made of wool. Volunteers all over the country knit the prostheses, which are then sent as far away as Cambodia and the Philippines. Members of the organisation even travelled to East Africa to train women there how to make the knockers.

>> Click on the image below to read the article.

ENERGY/SOCIETY – In Guinea, a local maths teacher has powered his whole village

In Bolodou, most people were used to using battery-powered lamps at night. But thanks to an ambitious project by local maths teacher Ibrahima Tounkara, the 90 households in this small village in the south of Guinea have electricity 24/7. Last year, Tounkara sunk all of his savings into building a small dam. The idea paid off, and the dam now produces 9 kw of power a day.


If you have a project you think we should write about, let us know! You can get in touch with us by email at or via our Facebook page.