2009 Tanzania: An Assessment of the Impact of Village/MTAA Resource Teams (BRTs) on the Activation of the Systems and Process in the Community within the Local Government Set-Up.
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Recently, the need for establishing Village/Mtaa Resource Teams (VRTs) at grassroots level is well recognized by both government and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). In response to this, the Prime Minister’s Office Regional Administration and Local Government (PMO-RALG) in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is implementing a programme on capacity building for the Lower Level Local Government (LLLG) through establishment of Village/Mtaa Resource teams (VRTs) in Tanzania Mainland. Ideally, the VRTs is composed of 12 people from different sectors at village level that is 2 Village Health Workers (VHW), 4 Out of School Youth (OOSY), 4 Opportunities and Obstacles to Development (O & OD) facilitators and Community Based Management Information System (CBMIS), one Village Executive Officer (VEO), and one Village Chairperson. It was hypothesized that the VRTs on a voluntarily basis would serve as well-informed multi-sectoral facilitators acting as additional support to the village government contributing to community based development initiatives and thereby strengthen the Decentralization by Devolution (D by D) process and local governance. In respect to this, undoubtedly the critical problem of poverty threatening most of the people in both rural and urban areas will be reduced and hence improve livelihood at household level.
With regard to this, the VRTs have expected to perform the following roles, among others (PMO-RALG, 2006): (i) identification of opportunities for development that exists in the community, (ii) collection and harmonization of wide range of data in the community, (iii) analyzing and translating data and information that exist in the community, (iv) identification and prioritization of the challenges existing in the community, (v) preparation of the community plan of action (CPA) using recourses existing within and outside the community, (vi) implementation of community development plans, (vii) monitoring and evaluation off implementation of Village/Mtaa CPA on quarterly and annual basis, and (viii) identification of community issues which calls for solution. Other roles include (i) tracking down the flow of information to the District Council and feed back to community, (ii) lobbying and advocacy to solicit for external support, (iii) promotion of community mobilization and self reliance spirit and (iv) participation in special occasion’s such as Village Health Day, African Child day, HIV/AIDs day and so on.
Despite impressive expectations of policy makers and roles of VRTs, there is insufficient evidence’ pertaining to effectiveness of the VRTs in catalyzing systems and processes for development in the lower level of Local Governments since its establishment in 2004. Following this situation, it was considered obligatory to conduct this study in order to assess the impact of Village/Mtaa Resource Teams (VRTs) on the activation of the systems and process in the community within the local government set-up.
The main objective of the study is to evaluate the impact of Village/Mtaa Resource Teams (VRTs) on the activation of the systems and process in the community within the local government set-up. The evaluation exercise was guided by the following specific objectives:
(i) To find out if the trained VRTs are active in the selected pilot LGAs and why they are active or inactive
(ii) To verify whether VRTs are affective in promoting development activities in the communities using the existing systems and processes or they are duplicating roles and responsibilities of VEOs/MEOs.
(iii) To explore on how VRTs are interacting with the existing community structures
(iv) To capture the actual contribution of VRTs at household level
(v) To provide the feedback on whether the PMO-RALG should continue with promotion of VRTs in the remaining LGAs
(vi) To identify key issues for sustainability and propose appropriate measures for sustainability of VRTs.
2.0 EVALUATION METHODOLOGY
2.1 Coverage of LGAs
UNICEF supported the training of Village Resource Teams (VRTs) in 22 districts of Tanzania mainland, covering a total of 14 out of 133 LGAs, 453 wards and 2,374 villages. In order to realize high degree of accuracy of information, Terms of Reference (ToRs) (See Appendix 1) instructed the consultants to conduct study on sample basis. In this respect, the evaluation exercise covered only 6 LGAs out of 22 LGAs which is equivalent to 27.3% of total LGAs covered in the pilot councils. The sampled LGAs included Magu, Musoma, Makete, Mbarali, Temeke and Mtwara. Both highly performed and poorly performed villages were picked to establish the reasons for both success and failure. In respect to this, the following councils Magu, Mbarali, Mtwara and Temeke were placed under highly performed council’s category. In a similar manner, Musoma was considered as moderately performed council and lastly Makete was the only council performed poorly. Such sampled LGAs were considered adequate to represent the whole population.
2.2 Data Requirements and Sources
During evaluation exercise, both primary and secondary data were collected from various sources. Primary data were collected from VRT leaders involving key actors and community leaders. Secondary data, on the other hand, were collected from several documents, publications and reports available at LGAs. The consultants reviewed the following documents: “Kiongozi cha Timu ya Uwezeshaji ya Kijiji /Mtaa”. “Rejea ya Mwezeshaji”. UNICEF field exercise on information gathering processes and use from Village to District level, LGA reports on VRT, Decentralization by Devolution and O & OD Assessment Report to mention a few.
2.3 Data Collection Instruments
Both documentary review and interviews were used as instruments of data collection. On the one hand, documentary review was used to collect secondary data with the aim of verifying and complementing the information obtained from interviewees. On the other hand, interview guided by structured questionnaire was used to obtain relevant information from leaders, members of VRTs, functional heads from different sectors (See Appendix 2).
This evaluation exercise was participatory in nature, where all actors in the VRT played an active role in providing information required to achieve evaluation objectives. In response to this, the target populations for this evaluation exercise were VRT officials from village to district council levels, including functional heads. It is from these populations that a grand total of 551 respondents were sampled (See Appendix 3). Both purposeful and simple random sampling procedures were used as techniques for sample selection. Purposeful sampling technique was used to select 6 councils as mentioned earlier. Again, purposeful sampling technique was used to select VRT officials and functional heads. In addition, functional heads were drawn randomly in order to obtain a fair representation of the population under observation. In respect to this, the consultants team interviewed 132 respondents in Makete District council, 111 in Musoma District council, 94 in Mtwara District council, 87 in Magu District council, 67 in Mbarali District council and 60 in Temeke Municipal council (See Appendix 3).
2.5 Assessment Design
The consultant team of 9 people (See Appendix 4) spent a total of 5 days in each LGA. In every council, the first day was spent in discussion with the key stakeholders at the council level and arranging appointment to VRT officials at ward and village levels. As stipulated in ToRs, PMO-RALG was informed about the process and procedure of assessment before commencement of the evaluation exercise. On day two and subsequent days the team divided into three groups with full support from respective LGAs staff members. The first group went in Magu and Musoma district councils, composed of 3 consultants, namely, Dr. Robert. W. Kisusu, Mr. John Kasubi and Mr. Eliakundi Samanya headed by Dr. Robert. W. Kisusu, the second group went in Makete and Mbarali composed of 3 consultants, namely, Mr. John Muriri Joseph, Mr. Danford Sanga, and Mr. Peter Kadirinkansimba headed by Mr. John Muriri Joseph and the last group composed of 3 consultants, namely, Mr. Alexander Lupindo, Mr. Manumbu Ezron Daudi, and Ms. Rose Likangaga headed by Mr. Alexander Lupindo. Each group conducted Focus Group Discussion with members of the VRTs at ward and village levels, and thereafter VRT’s members were asked to fill in questionnaires. Day 3 covered two villages in the same ward, and day 4 covered the third village in the same ward. Correspondingly, all three teams were meet again at council level to compile data and provide feedback of the findings and solicit recommendations thereby in day five. Of all three groups, the overall team leader was Dr. Robert. W. Kurusu.
2.6 Data Analysis
The collected data were processed using computer soft ware known as Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 12.5. In this package, qualitative findings based on frequency analysis represented fairly respondent’s opinions.
Findings and Conclusions:
The findings revealed that the VRTs members are active partly due to majority of them are aware on development opportunities and implementation of child mortality. The gained awareness’s helped them to apply on a number of issues including conducting village meetings and integration on existing natural resources. The statistics are applied when seeking and initiating development plans. However, despite the vital role of meeting in development most of the VRT Secretaries (about 54%) were unable to call the meetings partly due to lack of working tools and low awareness. The findings also show that the VRTs members are affective in promoting development activities in the communities using the existing systems. These include cross–cutting issues which help for planning and implementation development, participating on Opportunities and Obstacles to Development (O&OD) methodology, implementing special days of population variables and raising the level of community awareness on Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) of various development projects. The outcome of its effectiveness has improved both participation and sensitization of the communities and existing institutions, and the level of community recognition on the existence of VRTs is also increased.
Furthermore, it was noted that the VRTs members effectively interact with existing community structure in the areas of initiating development plans using Opportunities and Obstacles to Development (O&OD) methodology, development plans and implementing of development plans, and fund raising. The outcome of this benefited households in improving their livelihoods, development plans are successfully completed, and households’ awareness on development issues are also increased.
The VRTs program brought the following impacts to the community: (i) changed the communities attitudes towards the VRTs play an important role in their development process, (ii) improved and strengthened relationship between VRTs and communities, (iii) fostered interaction of the VRTs as change agent with the existing community, (iv) improved capacity of households to initiate various development plans and their livelihoods, (v) enhanced capacity of the communities to formulate and manage development plans and (vi) improved communication networks between and among different actors involved in development process
The sustainability of the VRTs programme entirely depend on (i) VRT programme functions on volunteer basis or unpaid assistance, (ii) increased community awareness pertaining to vital role that VRTs play in their development process will definitely lead to acceptability of the VRTs and hence ownership to the community, (iii) Local Government Training Institute (LGTI) will incorporate the VRT training in its training plans (programs) and turn the LGAs to be an area of model planning demonstration for practical purposes. Whereby students during outreach practical activities will be assigned to visit the district councils and learn how sustainability of the VRTs can be enhanced. In addition to that, students will be required to conduct research and come out with opportunities, obstacles and challenges facing VRTs and suggest remedial measures to overcome them, (iv) Local Government Training Institute (LGTI) will work together with district councils as a strategy to ensure that VRTs is mainstreamed into the district planning process and to enable them see VRTs as important opportunities and viable strategy for empowerment of their people and contributing to poverty reduction strategies.
It is then recommended that (i) there is a need to have proper plans and guidelines for making a follow-up and monitoring of the VRTs functions at all levels, (ii) there is a need to establish effective linkages between LGAs and Ward and Village/Mtaa or at all administrative levels, (iii) additional package of VRTs capacity building is required at all levels, (iv) the government and other stakeholders should provide VRTs members vital working tools, equipment and transport facilities, (v) community sensitization through education pertaining to VRTs roles that play in development process is also needed, (vi) extension of the VRTs to other district councils in the country is required, (vii) good will in VRTs programme for all stakeholders involved in development process is an important weapon in realizing tremendous achievement of any programme.
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