Voluntary Service Overseas Final Review

VSO REPORT Part 4A

Final Review

To be completed by the employer and volunteer as part of the final review of the placement start of service date and sent to the concerned Programme Manager in VSO

Employer:

The World Food Programme

Volunteer name: William Anthony Dawson

Line Managers Name:

Kitururu Mbwambo ?

Job ref: ?

Volunteer start of service date: 5th February, 2012 Volunteer end of service date: 4th February, 2013

What have you and your colleagues been doing together?

We have been assisting farmers

  • with their contracts to sell quality maize

  • training in the formation and management of farmer savings, loans and marketing societies

  • quality control of product including grading, moisture content, bagging, shipping and receiving requirements of maize

  • holding workshops regarding contractual obligations, quality control and fire prevention

  • supplying more of the tools required for successful production and farm management (likely these will be moisture meters for all and a computer for one of the farmers’ groups)

  • providing financial assistance for the continued up grading of village warehouses and supplying two temporary grain storage units

  • general liaising between the local government, agricultural extension, co-operative officers and farmers

What has been successful?

Though communication is difficult because of the nature of a large bureaucracy and the distance and isolation of the farmers’ organizations which lack computers, communication has improved. The farmers have a better understanding of the importance of the receipt system. They know that to receive timely payment the paper trail must be accurate. The World Food Programme has been told often enough that payment must be timely and progress has been made. The new forward contracts introduced in 2012 have been truly beneficial here.

One farmers’ group, which has never sold collectively before the introduction of the forward contracts, did honour its commitment with the World Food Programme. 38 farmers contributed an average of 1.5 MT or 30 bags each. This is truly impressive as a major goal of this programme is to more fully engage smallholders. Though payment had been promised within 2 weeks, due to some computer glitch, it took 3. Still a good record.

A work shop that brought together the 8 World Food Programme Savings and Loans Societies and those under the USAWA umbrella was novel and instructive. Isolation is a problem and bringing together groups from afar can only be constructive. Growers asked for a two day workshop in 2013. This is a good sign they valued and appreciated this event. Farmers had a chance to learn not only from district representatives but from each other as well.

The non-government organization Faida-Mali Market Link was introduced at this workshop and to date this partnership appears solid, constructive and instructive. Masasa Makwassa has been charged with training the farmers’ organizations next year as well. His objective is to unify farmers to work together equitably and transparently and to earn more by increasing the quantity of quality grain through stronger business oriented savings and loans and marketing societies. Masasa is to introduce new and profitable markets. His efforts to date are sincere but the task is rather ambitious.

A fire prevention workshop was very successful as measured by full participation of all 24 invited to the Arusha Fire Hall for a day of lecture and of practice. Triggering an extinguisher and the putting out a real, rather dramatic fire drove home the importance of this day’s event. Growers had been given fire extinguishers but they did not know how to use them and had never maintained or recharged them.

Village warehouses are now in the final stages of being refurbished to government specifications and final payments are being issued by the World Food Programme to cover these costs.

Several workshops were implemented over this growing season to instruct on the receiving, grading and fumigating of maize. As with the fire workshop, these were truly practical, hands on exercises.

Tremendous effort went into the introducing of the new forward contracts. For those farmers we were able to reach, these meetings were stimulating and they generated much discussion. Lessons have been learned and leaders have already requested timely and early introduction of the 2013 contract. Most leaders, but not all, want to encourage more grower participation both in the decision making surrounding the signing of these contracts and with the actual maize contributions.

What constrains you and your colleagues from being more successful?

  • Communication. Farmers are isolated and without computers

  • Language. A volunteer needs to speak Kiswahili. Letters and contracts to growers ought to be in Kiswahili

  • Field presence needs to be consistent and more frequent. Greater independence of responsibility and mobility is required

  • The World Food Programme is trying to be a player on the open market but is unable to respond as quickly when tendering contracts and when paying. The new forward contracts have improved on these constraints

  • Top down decision undervalues competent national staff

  • Manipulation by SACCOs managers and board members means an uninformed or ill-informed membership and thus poor participation by the ‘target’ small hold farmers. Some contracts have likely been filled by handful of larger growers

  • Inability or unwillingness of SACCOs to advance payment

  • Smallholders are smart, are capable but the itinerary is too comprehensive and the pace of training needs to be slowed with hands on lessons repeated.

  • Farmers continue to benefit from World Programme largesse with no consequences for their failures to honour their contracts

What has enabled yours and your colleague’s success?

Hard work, dedication, experience, ability to work together, direction from the programme co-ordinator

What are your colleague’s professional development needs?

They are clever and mature and capable of more responsibility and of much greater decision making and policy formulation.

Overall, to what extent have the placement objectives been achieved? (Please tick the appropriate box)

1

Fully

2

Mostly

3

Partly

4

Not at all

X

Please describe the most meaningful change for other people that you contributed to during your placement.

I don’t know. Together we accomplished many of the tasks at hand.

Describe the Change:

Perhaps my naive, enthusiastic focus on the farmers, and my respect for my colleagues contributed a certain drive and purpose, but possibly I flatter myself.

My co-workers would have to be sounded. On this topic there have never been meetings between programme office, line-manger and colleagues.

WHAT was the situation before the change?

I don’t know. Though I have asked my colleagues for specifics they are not forth coming. They tell me I’ve worked hard and done a lot and I tell them I’ve received both direction and support from the co-ordinator of this programme.

WHAT has changed that VSO has contributed to?

CUSO-VSO analysed my application and brought me here; I think between Volunteer Service Overseas and The World Food Programme they did an excellent job of placing me.

What are people doing differently now? What concrete changes have been observed? Please include any evidence demonstrating that change has happened.

I don’t know. I was a good assistant and for the most part I fit in. We worked well together. We liked each other. Perhaps my enthusiasm contributed. We did our job as best we could.

How did the change happen?

I was in the luxurious position of not having a specific job so I wasn’t pulled in other directions with other responsibilities. I was able to focus on projects. I could always ask for advice and did. I was able to follow up on leads, some given to me and some I thought of myself. This is how I helped my colleagues. This worked well.

 

I think this programme needs a dedicated field presence. As a volunteer I took a job from a national.
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