In November of 2017, I travelled to Seattle, Washington for an introductory meeting with the new Rector of Hope Africa University. Rector Victor BARANTOTA, Ph.D., was already acquainted with the Student Grants Program of the Haley McCready Outreach and Development Fund. He explained that he wanted to make field visits to our development projects and he hoped there would be more development projects.
During the first part of my recent visit to Burundi, I was able to organize an opportunity for Rector Victor BARANTOTA to visit three of our development projects.
- Breeding Goats at Nyambuye Zone in Isale Commune: Project Manager: Desire CIZA
- Raising Pigs and Cultivating Crops in Nyamburye Zone, Isale Commune: Project Manager, Desire CIZA
- Making Bricks and Growing Rice in Mugaruro Quarter, Buterere Commune: Project Manager, Audace MPAWENIMANA
Given his busy schedule ahead of graduation and the beginning of a new term, we were exceedingly impressed and thankful that the Rector agreed to take time to visit our development projects.
Breeding Goats at Nyambuye Zone in Isale Commune: Project Manager: Desire CIZA
The Rector visited Desire CIZA’s first development project that began in 2014; Breeding Goats at Nyambuye Zone in Isale Commune. Desire is working on a Master’s degree in the Community Development Department of Hope Africa University and he is the Program Director of Voice of Hope Radio at Hope Africa University. For the past three years, Desire has served as the volunteer project manager for a hugely successful development project that involves distributing goats and cultivating crops.
This development project was designed to improve the socioeconomic conditions of community-selected beneficiaries in a rural area just outside Bujumbura. The beneficiaries were to be organized into an association of committed members. The project planned to provide female goats to each association member; a female representative of a needy household. For the first two gestations, one of the kids would be distributed to other beneficiaries. In addition, the association members would be trained and assisted to compost and grow crops. The proceeds from the goats and the crops were expected to sustain the project and improve the quality of life for the represented households.
The goats and crops project started with one association of women and it has spawned two more associations of 30 women each (now a total of 70 women). The first association gave 15 goats to the second association and the 10 women in the first association now have many goats and one woman had 9 goats at one time. The first association has distributed goats, vegetables and money to its members.
We visited the two extension projects and the second and third associations. Since some of the association members were working on a local construction site and were not able to participate in our field visit, we first went to greet them on the job.
The second association has 25 goats and the third association has 15 goats. The second and third associations have collaborated on growing crops and at one point were operating three stores. The associations have planted, harvested and sold a number of crops and distributed goats, vegetables and money to their members.
Raising Pigs and Cultivating Crops in Nyamburye Zone, Isale Commune: Project Manager, Desire CIZA
This promising development project was also designed by Desire CIZA who will be the volunteer project manager long into the future. For this new development project (2017), the project manager recruited 8 poor women to develop an association, raise pigs and cultivate crops. The association members have been trained to become self-supporting, self-managing, self-governing and self-sustaining. Moreover, it is expected that the first association will spawn a second association and the second association will produce a third association and so on.
The women were trained on caring for pigs. The women were given female pigs and they worked together to build elevated, sheltered pens for the pigs. From each gestation, a woman will keep most of the piglets, one piglet will be given to the association, another piglet will be given to another woman and, as the project grows, more women will be recruited and new associations will be formed and supported to raise pigs and cultivate crops.
The women were trained on composting, across-the-hill line planting, inter-cropping, mulching, fertilizing, irrigating, crop rotation and erosion prevention by the Area Agronomist. The project budget is being used to get the women started on collectively cultivating crops. A field has been rented and plants and fertilizer will be purchased. The women will work together to prepare the soil and care for the crop.
Although we did not have time to visit the pigs and pig pens, we found the association members preparing a field for cultivating tomatoes.
Part of the harvest will be shared with the women and some will be sold to generate income for the association.
Making Bricks and Growing Rice in Mugaruro Quarter, Buterere Commune, Project Manager, Audace MPAWENIMANA
The long-term, volunteer project manager for this development project is Audace MPAWENIMANA. Based on the needs and recommendations identified in his master’s of business administration thesis, the project manager designed a project to develop the capacity and improve the socioeconomic lives of brick makers (2014).
The project was designed to help vulnerable people to become more economic independent by making bricks and pursuing agriculture activities, especially in rice growing. During the period of political unrest in Bujumbura, the project lost a number of beneficiaries. Thanks to the work of Audace, the project manager, the development project renewed its membership and development activities.
This project is our only one with Batwa members. The project now has 17 beneficiaries; 16 members are Batwa (members of the Twa ethnicity, sometimes called pygmies), 13 are women and 4 are men.
During 2017, the project successfully made and sold bricks twice and successfully harvested two crops of rice. The income from selling bricks and rice is distributed to the association members.
At the time of our visit, another field of rice had been planted.
Likewise, at the time of our visit the association members were baking bricks in a kiln.
Speaking in Kirundi directly to the very poor association members, Rector Victor BARANTOTA stressed the importance of saving a significant amount of the income from each sale of bricks and rice.