Project Planning Visits: How do we prepare for development projects?

28th September 2018

Thorough planning is crucial to the success of development work, to ensure that the needs of local people are addressed, and that long-lasting and sustainable benefits are felt by the whole community.

From 20-23rd September, Raleigh Volunteer Managers (VMs) and International Citizen Service (ICS) Team Leaders (TLs) went on project planning visits (PPVs) to rural communities in the regions of Morogoro, Dodoma and Iringa, to prepare for upcoming sustainable development projects focusing on: protecting the environment through natural resource management; supporting the launch of local businesses; and promoting safe sanitation and hygiene practices.

Projects delivered through formal collaborative partnerships have the potential to generate improved sustainability outcomes, so after arriving in their communities on the 20th September, the volunteer leaders spent three days working to establish relationships with village leaders and district officials, raise awareness of the projects and encourage the participation of women, as well as carry out risk assessments and establish casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) protocols.

ICS Team Leaders meet with Kilosa district officials

Although this was the first time the VMs and TLs visited their respective villages, Raleigh in-country staff have been working behind the scenes for more than a year to select the communities and assess them for suitability. To do this, Raleigh takes recommendations from the Tanzanian government, and then carries out comprehensive analysis to make sure that communities are not only open to outside support and that the locations are safe for volunteers, but that they would benefit both in the short- and long-term from the development projects proposed.

Volunteer leaders Felista Shayo (from Tanzania) and James Mynott (from the UK), travelled to the village of Nyali in the Morogoro region to prepare for the start of Raleigh Tanzania’s ICS Livelihoods programme, which aims to build the resilience of communities and rural youth through entrepreneurship training, as well as support young people in setting up small enterprises.

Tanzania is the second fastest growing economy in Africa (World Economic Forum), but job creation is a major problem. Approximately 800,000 young people enter the workforce each year; however, only 4% of these young people have successfully completed secondary level education, while only 50-60,000 new jobs are expected to be created in the formal sector each year. Faced by this reality, many young people have adopted a mixed livelihoods strategy that combines different sources of income such as wage labour and micro-enterprise. Supported by the government’s Five-Year Development Plan, the creation and growth of micro-enterprise is essential in reducing the number of those living in poverty in rural Tanzania.

Raleigh’s Livelihoods programme has proven to be a great success in Tanzania. An internal evaluation conducted after completion of the ICS contract showed that 76% of Raleigh-funded businesses were still running, with 92% making a profit and 80% able to sustain livelihoods.

In Nyali, Felista and James will lead a group of 12 Tanzanian and international volunteers in the delivery of a ten-week entrepreneurship course for local people. The course will enable aspiring entrepreneurs to identify the needs of their local economics and generate new business ideas as a result. Raleigh’s project partner, the Tanzanian Forestry Conservation Group (TFCG) will also give training on sustainable business ideas – such as the sustainable production of charcoal, which is the main energy source for Tanzanian families.

The entrepreneurs will pitch their business plans to a panel of judges, and up to 10 new businesses will receive funding from Raleigh to help start or grow the enterprise. Throughout the course, Tanzanian government and district representatives will visit Nyali to inform the locals about government loans and grants, and Raleigh will support those that didn’t receive its funding in applying for alternative finance opportunities.

Raleigh volunteers, alongside a network of mentors, will support entrepreneurs to launch their businesses and build buy-in from the local community.

During their PPV in Nyali, James and Felista held meetings with interested local youth and more than 60 people signed up to the course. One business idea that came up in the meeting was renting bicycles, which would allow people to travel to the neighbouring village – which has a greater variety of shops and services – more easily, instead of having to rely on a bus that comes once a day.

Felista Shayo speaking at a meeting with village leaders and aspiring entrepreneurs

Another idea suggested by village member Anthon Saanane was for a local market to be set up, which would give the farmers in Nyali an opportunity to sell their produce and hopefully attract visitors from neighbouring villages.

Local farmer Fredrick William Makanze highlighted that while many people in the village already have a certain degree of business knowledge from owning farms, the course will help them develop and refine their skills and increase profits.

Before the entrepreneurship training starts, there will be a research phase for the volunteers to hold focus groups and carry out surveys, which will help identify the types of businesses that are wanted by the community and that will be sustainable going forwards.

One point that was clear to James and Felista from their meetings was that only around 20 per cent of the attendees were women. Raleigh Tanzania aims for the female participation rate to be at least 50 per cent, to build confidence in young women and allow them to develop essential skills.

‘We have a saying: “once you educate a woman, you will educate a nation”,’ said Agnies Jeremia, who has signed up to the classes. ‘So, it is important to include women in this course because we are able to contribute a lot to growing our community.’

Phauster Oberter added: ‘I want to take part in this programme because it will help me become more independent,’ she said.

After speaking with some of the women in the room, it became obvious that timing plays a large part in who can attend. So, they agreed to hold training sessions in the mid- to late afternoon so that more groups of people can attend.

At the end of the entrepreneurship training that will be starting soon, the volunteers will also set up various committees and groups, such as a youth group and a women’s group, to provide vulnerable people with increased access to improved support systems and networks.

Felista and James prepare to meet the aspiring entrepreneurs (L), and with the village leader and village executive officer (R)

 

Words and images by Jessica Rowbury, Raleigh Tanzania communications officer

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