Burundi experienced political unrest during the past year and our project managers and beneficiaries were asked to be careful and preserve their scarce and precious development resources. Likewise, the Haley McCready Outreach and Development Fund delayed funding of three new projects and decided not to have a Call of Proposals or a Call for Donations.
In order to review the situation, I am going to Burundi to meet with our project managers and project beneficiaries and offer encouragement for continuing cautious development.
Our last newsletter reviewed some of the challenges that some of our development projects have experienced during the past year. However, some of our projects continued to make very good development progress.
In this newsletter, we describe some of the developments of two of our projects in Rugembe Colline (hill) in Kabezi Commune located south of Bujumbura. The area was seriously affected by the war with the residents, subsistence farmers, leaving their homes and land to gather together for mutual protection while the rebel and military presence devastated their livestock and crops.
Improved Food Security at Kabezi, Marie Nadège Twagirayezu and Anicet Nyandwi
This well-conceived project was designed to recruit and organize poor women who would work together to improve their lives through animal husbandry and agriculture. The project recruited women who were willing to join an association, receive, raise and distribute goats and become involved in the collective planting, harvesting and selling of crops.
At the beginning, five poor women were given a female goat and agreed to pass on a female kid to another woman who agreed to join the association, pass on a kid and work on collective crops. The project has built the first association of 20 active members, distributed 20 goats and provided training on composting, growing beans, soya beans and corn.
Without counting the goats that have already been sold, each of the original 20 women have more than 3 goats. One woman reports that she has already sold 4 kids for 120,000 BIF. The money she received helped her to pay for medical care. In addition to her 3 remaining goats, she bought 3 rabbits that have now multiplied to 10 rabbits.
As planned, the first association is developing a second association of 20 members who agree to participate in the same development activities (association, goats and crops). So far, 10 more women have been recruited and received a goat.
By renting a demonstration site, the project has been active in collectively growing crops. The beneficiaries have been trained in composting, organic fertilizing, growing beans, soya beans, tomatoes, maize (corn), sweet potatoes and cassava and crop diversification and erosion prevention. Some of each harvest is distributed to members, some saved for seed and some sold for income.
The association holds regular meetings and collects monthly contributions from its members. The association has generated a significant amount of income that is kept in a box with two locks and the box and each key are kept by separate members. The money is used to provide small loans to association members for small income-generating activities.
The big, good news story for this project during the past year is that the association has generated enough income, saved enough money and recently purchased property. Yes, the development project now owns property; the development project has collective equity in land and land is of great importance in an agrarian society.
The association will continue with its association meetings, monthly contributions, micro-financing, member recruitment, goat distribution and planting, harvesting and selling of crops (currently tomatoes and cassava).
Development of Vegetable Culture for the Self-Financing of IAP Twubake, Project Manager, Anicet Nyandwi
This project was designed to use a participatory, self-help approach to organize and train 10 poor widows and 3 poor orphans in the cultivation and sale of vegetables, the raising of rabbits and, thereby, create a bigger and better diet, ongoing jobs, income and an association.
The project has an association of the 17 poor widows and 3 poor orphan women. Some time ago, the project manager bought and distributed three rabbits to each of the 20 women; a total of 60 rabbits. The women have planted and harvested crops of tomatoes, cabbage, maize (corn), cassava and beans. The harvests are shared with the association members, some of the harvest is saved for seed and the remainder is sold with some of the proceeds going to the association and some to members. The cultivation process is used to train the women on composting, inter-cropping, across the hill line planting, fertilizing, mulching, irrigating, erosion prevention and crop rotation.
The women work together on fields where they share in the harvest and they also work in teams for other people, get paid and then split the money between all members and the association. The association has used some of its money to for micro-financing purposes, providing some of its members with small loans for small income-generating activities such as re-selling vegetables, salt and oil.
The association decided to expand its animal husbandry; the association decided to buy 4 goats and draw names to distribute the first 4 goats to 4 members who will in turn distribute the kids to other members based on the initial draw of names. Now, 6 women have goats!
The association hopes that all of the 17 women will have at least one goat by the end of June 2016. To meet this goal, they will grow maize (corn) and beans, double their monthly contributions to the association and continue to work for other people who will pay them for their work.