.Notification visit to stakeholders in Mbeya RPO was conducted from 9th-27th January 2012 following decision to phase out all community placements of Kijana ni Afya programme in which the organization operated since 2006 and 2008.
This followed from the 2010 and 2011 readiness surveys, which reported up to 92.5% of placements as able to proceed in next phase in sense that stakeholders could continue active implementation of activities in absence of Restless Development, but with some little support. But in regard to fact that there are placements that could dropped-out due to operational reasons such as costs, time, or inability to show transformation, the Mbeya RPO decided to stop direct intervention even to placements which did not meet the sustainability criteria considering truth that inability to show readiness even after 5 years of operating in their communities indicates that even if the organization continues to operate in these communities for next 20 years, there is no assurance that changes will be realized.
The purpose of the activity was to provide information and clarify the processes of phase out to stakeholders at community placements that were still reached through direct intervention by December 2011. Staff was able to meet 295 representative stakeholders from 30 placements through meetings held at either ward or village levels. Stakeholders included, but not limited to, wards and villages executive officers, village chairpersons, teachers, school counselors, classroom peer educators, CAGs members, VMAC members, health attendants, representatives of special groups.
Prior planning and logistics; notification letters and timetable were prepared and sent to district officials, wards and villages executive officers and heads of schools prior to the visits. The purpose to the visit was introduced, and relevant members invited for meetings at their respective levels. With district officials meetings was requested to be conducted by district executive director’s office while for placements stakeholders meetings were requested to be held at either ward or village offices with Restless Development being prepared to cover for drinks and snacks as well as transport (in regard to where participants hail from) allowances for participants.
Stakeholders reaction; stakeholders were clearly informed that one day, as a matter of sustainability strategy, they would be left to stand on their own. They knew that it was coming sooner or later. Many testified and even notified about noted best practices and case studies that, Restless Development has done great job in building their capacities so that they are now able to continue on their own. Some efforts taken include, but not limited to, school counselors trainings, VMACs trainings, CAGs trainings, classroom peer educators trainings, initiation and taking forth the use of community volunteers.
My feelings; the activity was a success as it gives room to other communities to receive services offered by the organization.
Lesson learnt; at all levels stakeholders complained of inadequate communication – particularly when it comes to sharing plans and practices of each other in order to impact the works of both sides. It was obvious that the great work we do is not clearly communicated at local levels (district, ward) and this cost us a great deal when it comes to measuring our visibility. The activity has helped us learn that we need to design a mechanism through which our accomplishments and outcomes will be regularly captured and shared to planners and implementers at local level instead of waiting them to track on their own (something that might not happen to be of their interests).
Next steps; regular follow-up visits to be planned and conducted twice per annum in efforts of getting assured of whether placements have been able to continue. The first follow-up to be conducted by June and second by November. Again, identify new areas for new intervention.
Didas Balimanya, Mbeya PC, clarifying to Itaka stakeholders about the decision to phase out all placements
Some noted contributions from stakeholders
“There are noticeable positive changes to our community since the arrival of this organization especially among youths. For instance, Sande who was previously a trouble maker has changed into a great entrepreneur after being advised by volunteers; now he even owns a motorcycle”.Itaka Village Executive Officer
“Phasing out placements while planning to intervene in new communities is like a fair-play in football game for, in best practical matters, it enhances sustainable and balanced development” Ibaba ward councilor
“Community volunteers’ approach really works, you directly sense a sustainable programme, my advice to your organization is ‘begin with volunteers from local communities in new placements’” Odasta Kajiba; Ex-Community Volunteer, Ibungila village.
“Knowledge is nowadays purchased expensively but it has been given to me freely by Restless Development, so I shall give it freely to others” Yohana Mgaya (Ex-Community Volunteer Peer Educator, Itaka)
We always will keep you posted!
Blogged by Simon Ogunde, APC, Mbeya Programme Office.
 Regional Programme Office