Author: Ebo, I. A.
The Community Capacity Building Programme is an integral part of the current (1997-2001) Programme of Cooperation between the Government of Togo and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The programme has two components: Project 01 Micro planning, whose objective is to improve the planning, management and monitoring capacities of 50% of the village communities in the targeted prefectures by ensuring an equitable participation of women in the process, and; Project 02 Support for women-specific services, which aims at increasing the access of 80% of women to specific services that they will have identified as priorities in the villages that have developed Community Action Plans (CAP) in the eight prefectures and ensuring their involvement in the management of such services.
Purpose / Objective
The objectives of the present evaluation are:
- To analyze how the strategies have been implemented and how the results have been obtained
- To appraise the services provided by the programme and their effects on the beneficiaries
- To envisage a sustainable perspective to the emerging development dynamics within the communities, in terms of the participation of the different social categories, especially women.
For the sampling, three categories of villages/communities were visited. These include: well-mobilized villages, considered as "Capable" villages (7 in number); less mobilized or "Less Capable" villages (7 in number); and non-beneficiary or "Control" villages (6 in number), making a total of 20 villages. These villages are chosen with a list of established criteria for the classification.
Using the techniques of focus group discussions, individual interviews and observation, in the presence of field personnel/facilitators such as prefectorial Directors of Social Welfare and their agents, the evaluation team adopted the methods of prepared discussion guides, questionnaires, and observation plans, for data collection. The visit to the field was conducted in the three regions covered by the Programme. The data collection exercise was facilitated by experienced interviewers (sociologists and social welfare assistants), who are also natives of the Regions concerned.
The team worked with community structures such as the Community Development Committee, the Schoolchildren Parents Committee, women's and mixed groups, as well as institutional structures like the traditional chiefdoms, as well as Regional and Local Planning Committees.
Key Findings and Conclusions
The major achievements include the sensitization and mobilization of villages, resulting in the elaboration of Community Action Plans (CAPs), which constitute reference tools or instruments for the provision of support to activities identified and retained by the communities, particularly the women's groups.
The following achievements were also recorded:
- elaboration of 329 Community Action Plans, out of the 419 planned/programmed
- active participation by women (between 49% and 51%) in the implementation of the micro planning process in the communities
- support to women's groups in the areas of organization, training, installation of corn mills, granting of small loans, installation of compost pits for soil fertilization, etc.
- strengthening of three (3) Regional Planning Committees (RPC) and eight (8) Local Planning Committees (LPC) directly involved in the Programme, with particular emphasis on material support, planning methodology, and training for coordination and monitoring.
Factors contributing to the success of the Programme:
Awareness and interest on the part of communities and technical partners as well as the NGOs vis a vis programme strategies, particularly participatory microplanning, resulting in the production of a tool for local development, the Community Action Plan.
The involvement of actors in the education, health, women's promotion, rural development and other sectors in the choice of themes, organization of meetings and monitoring makes IEC one of the cardinal points of integration of the Community Capacity Building Programme with other programs.
The general mastery of the methods and techniques of the participatory approach by the social welfare agents (fieldworkers).
The availability of all categories of personnel in all sectors.
The sense of responsibility demonstrated by the communities in their access to basic facilities and services, stimulated by the fact that the programme is being implemented in the context of economic crisis in which the participation of the communities constitutes the opportunity cost of the programme, or the price to be paid by the communities.
- An improvement in the attitude of men towards women, by better respecting the rights of the latter to participate in the grassroots development process, especially their involvement in the planning/design, implementation, management and promotion of activities aimed at the improvement of their living conditions
- An effective mobilization of the communities, especially the women
- A significant alleviation of the women's workload
- The emergence of a cultural dynamic at the community level, which favors greater women's participation in development activities, thus demonstrating the effectiveness and efficiency of the programme.
- A better management of income-generating activities (loans, corn milling, animal husbandry, gardening, etc.) by women's groups.
- A revival of activities within the Community Development Committees, which are now more committed to the development of their own communities.
i) Constraints associated with the nature of the programme -- the innovative character of the programme as a community development approach based on planning and as a community-based social mobilization, makes it inevitable for the process to demand, not only constant negotiation with the communities, but also a validation with the technical and political partners. This procedure prolongs the process, which requires vigorous monitoring in order to maintain the motivation of the communities and a flexible planning that is not always consistent with the immediate objectives of the different sectoral programs.
ii) Constraints associated with the community -- strong resistance arising from the doubts being cast on the organization and functioning of local structures; and the difficulty of obtaining the communities' acceptance of responsibility for the different activities, since this demand imposes a financial sacrifice on the communities, whose resources are often limited;
iii) Constraints associated with institutional and financial capacities -- despite their high level of motivation, external cooperating partners do not always honor their commitments in terms of financial, human and material resources. The programme is, therefore, compelled to make constant budgetary reshuffles/amendments, in order to conciliate UNICEF regulations with the institutional and financial weaknesses of the partners.
iv) Constraints associated with the structure and management of the programme -- the fact that the coordination of programme implementation is entrusted to two different Government Departments (Ministries of Planning and Social Welfare) indicates a double tutelage. This is tantamount to assigning two village heads to one collectivity, or 'giving one child to two fathers'.
Strengthen not only the level of community participation in the effective mastery of the participatory process leading to social mobilization and planning of the community's development activities; but also the involvement of women by increasing their numbers in the basic community structures, in order to ensure equity in gender-related issues.
Lay a particular emphasis on training and regular refresher courses for the persons in charge of community structures (Community Development Committee, Schoolchildren Parents Committee, Health Management Committee, Women's groups etc.), in order to ensure continuity in the use of the tools of the participatory process.
Organize 'sessions of reflection and consultation' for all the partners involved in the programme, seizing these opportunities to give orientation on the concept of the participatory approach in the microplanning process and support for women-specific activities.
Organize occasional (bi-annual or annual) field visits by social welfare agents/fieldworkers, as well as UNICEF programme personnel, to the mobilized villages, to ensure regular follow-up/monitoring of the achievements and problems of the programme.
Lastly, on the basis of the documents produced by the programme, ensure a wider dissemination, through the utilization of media support at all levels, of the diverse achievements generated by the effective implementation of the programme among the other partners as well as decision-makers in the country.
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Government of Togo