NEWSLETTER: Development through Associations, Goats and Crops

We will be announcing the results of our Call for Proposals 2019 in an upcoming newsletter. This newsletter provides an update on the two development projects that received grants as a result of our Call for Proposals 2018.

Almost all of our projects address development through agriculture; animal husbandry and crop cultivation. The two projects that received grants from our Call for Proposals 2018 involve capacity development aimed at women and development through establishing associations, distributing goats and cultivating crops.

Breeding Goats and Cultivating Crops for Vulnerable Women from Mihigo Colline, Kayanza Province, Project Manager: Dieudonné IRAMBONA

At the end of January, a team of guests visited our goats and crops development project in Kayanza. The special guests included Dr. Barbara Rose from Michigan, Carol Vitolins from New York and Lauren Chudnovsky from Kibuye.

Lauren, Carol and Barbara

In addition, the visitors included the Program Director, John McCready; the Program Coordinator, Louise NTIRANYIBAGIRA; and Project Manager, Dieudonné IRAMBONA (Dieudonné received his Master’s degree at the Hope Africa University Graduation in February).

Dieudonné, Project Manager

Walking toward the field and before seeing the beneficiaries, Barbara took a couple of interesting photographs. The first one shows a boy and a homemade scooter that was being used for transporting potatoes up the hill.

Potato Transportation

Another one of Barbara’s photographs shows the beautiful background scene beyond the project field.

Another Beautiful View in Burundi

Upon arrival to the rented field, the visitors were welcomed by the Association members singing, dancing and full of joy.

Singing for Visitors
Love that Singing and Dancing

John thanked the women for coming out to the field to greet the guests and introduced the visitors to the beneficiaries. The members of the Association warmly welcomed the visitors by clapping their hands.

Welcoming Visitors

Presentation on Association

Following the greetings and introductions, a presentation was given by the President of the Association. The Association is comprised of a diverse group of 15 women who were trained in a number of areas by the Project Manager, Dieudonné IRAMBONA. The Association has elected officers made-up of a President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer. The President chairs weekly meetings where all of the members discuss the week’s activities and life concerns, and contribute their membership fees and discuss loans for members who requested a microfinancing loan for income generating activities. With the guidance of the Project Manager, the Association is responsible for developing and maintaining self-support, self-management and self-governance; the fundamental development principles of the project. In this case, the Association has also become an important source of social contact, friendship and assistance; it has become a self-help group for its members (see Testimony section below).

Presentation on Goats

One of the beneficiaries provided a presentation about the goats. All 15 women have their own female goat and all of the goats have been vaccinated. At the time of our visit, one goat had a kid and nine other goats were expecting kids.

One of the Goats
Some More Goats
Lauren Holding the Kid

Presentation on Crops

There was another presentation on the cultivation of crops. Soon after the project began, the Association rented a large field and the members worked together to prepare the soil and plant potatoes (Irish potatoes) and corn.

Growing Potatoes

At the time of the recent field visit, the potatoes had been harvested, the corn was not quite ready for harvesting and the Association was planning to plant beans.

The beneficiaries harvested one tonne of white potatoes. Six hundred kilograms were distributed among the beneficiaries, each member receiving 40 kilograms, and the rest of the potatoes were sold and the money will be kept in the microfinance account until it is needed for renting land next season, purchasing seed and other expenses.

While we were on the field, the women demonstrated how they would prepare the soil for planting beans.

Preparing Soil for Planting Beans
Barbara and Dieudonné Helping to Prepare Soil
Louise Takes Her Turn
Lauren Steps into the Hoeing

Testimonies from Individual Beneficiaries

Some time was provided for the women to tell the visitors how they have benefitted from the Association and the project. The members are very positive about their Association that coordinates the project activities and functions as a self-help group. Below are some of the testimonial comments that were provided by the beneficiaries.

  • The association has become my family. As a widow, I used to be lonely. Today, I have sisters to whom I can share my concerns and to whom I feel connected.
  • Teamwork. When one of us has an activity like hoeing, we come together and assist her with work. Instead of using more time to finish the work alone, today, we no longer suffer such conditions.
  • I bought a beautiful and expensive cloth which I could not buy before I joined the association.
  • I have more consideration from my husband because I contribute to the family needs.
  • Before the association, I did not have shoes. Today I have them and I use them.
  • I eat like others. From the potatoes, I was able to provide food at my home.
  • The fertilizer has contributed to an increase of production.

Presentation of Gifts

On behalf of a Canadian donor, John was able to present the Association members with a gift $50.00 USD to support crop cultivation. Some the women had old worn hoes with short blades and they are not very efficient for cultivating.

Example of an Old Worn, Short-bladed Hoe

The gift was given with the understanding that the women needed new hoes with big, long blades and the money would be used to buy a new hoe for every member of the Association.

Happily Accepting Money for New Hoes

In support of the development project and the Association members’ work, Dr. Barbara Rose provided another gift of $50.00 USD. The gift was presented to all of the Association members with a view that all of the members would decide how to use the money to support their development activities.

Gratefully Accepting Gift to the Association

Soon after the field visit, the Project Manager, Dieudonné, announced that the Association had opened their own bank account that requires the signatures of three signing officers to make transactions.

Before leaving the project site, the Association members once again surprised John with a generous gift of bananas.

A Gift of Bananas for John

Spreading their appreciation and generosity, the Association members also gave the other guests a gift of bananas.

Generously Presenting Bananas

Farming Potatoes and Breeding Goats in Bukirasazi Commune, Prosper NIYONGERE

Bukirasazi Commune in Gitega Province is inhabited by many landless widows and orphan girls. The plan was to identify and recruit a primary target group of 15 landless women, widows and orphan girls, between 15 and 40 years of age and who were members of the FUPDD (Forces Unies des Partenaires pour le Development Durable) English Clubs in Bukirasazi Commune. The women and girls would be organized into a participatory, self-help association and would be required to agree to work collectively on the project development aims and activities.

The purpose of this project is to improve the social-economic situation of the beneficiaries through collectively distributing goats and cultivating potatoes. The women would be given a goat with the understanding the first kid would be given to another woman in another association and the next kids would belong to the beneficiary. The women would be assisted in renting land, preparing the soil, planting potatoes, fertilizing the plants and sharing and selling the harvest. The project would develop the capacity and independence of the women and girls by providing training in the care of goats, production of potatoes, self-help, savings and loans and self-government. As the first association would become successful in breeding goats and cultivating potatoes, the project would start another association of 15 landless women, assist the association in breeding and distributing goats and cultivating potatoes and harvesting potatoes. The project is expected to produce a series of self-supporting, self-sustaining, self-managing and self-governing associations that will improve the social-economic situation of the landless female participants.

Development through Association

As planned, the Project Manager, Prosper NIYONGERE, identified and recruited 15 women as the beneficiaries of the development project; widows, orphan girls and landless women aged 15 to 40 years old. The women agreed to be active, committed members of a participatory the self-help Association. The beneficiaries signed an agreement and elected officers; a President, Vice-President, Treasurer and Secretary.

The project provided training on breeding goats, growing potatoes and working cooperatively to become self-supporting and economically independent. The main objective of the Association is to promote self-help, self-financing and self-support in the years to come. The Savings and Loans (SAL) activities are taking place twice a month on Wednesdays. During these meetings, members focus on how they can continue to support and sustain themselves into the future, now that the grant money has all been invested in the start-up development functions. During the meetings, the members review the requests for loans. Microfinancing loans are already being given to support income generation for individual beneficiaries.

The Association is acting as a self-help group. When one beneficiary has difficulties, the members come together and decide on how to assist their fellow member. The Association has built trust and confidence among members. They feel connected and this reinforces the team work (see Impact section below).

Achievement in Animal Husbandry

With the Project Manager and the beneficiaries involved, the grant money was used to purchase and distribute goats; all 15 women were given an adult female goat.

Association Members and their Goats

The women were trained in caring for goats and a veterinary is overseeing the health of the goats on a regular basis.

Saving and Loans (SAL) Discussion Meeting

The goats are doing their job and, now, the women have 9 new baby goats.

Lunchtime for Some New Kids (on the Block)
Mum and Kid
Holding a New Kid
Mum Feeding the Twins

When the project becomes self-sustaining, female goats will be given to members of a new group of beneficiaries. The Project Manager is in the process of identifying them but will wait to launch the second Association once the first Association has enough goats to distribute to the new beneficiaries and sufficient money to assist with the start of crop cultivation.

Achievement in Crop Cultivation

The Association rented two fields for potatoes farming. The first field measures 60 meters of length and 59 meters of width. The second field measures 31 meters of length and 26 meters of width. From the grant money, the Association paid for fertilizers, hoes and potato seeds and other materials. The women prepared the soil and planted potatoes in both fields.

Potatoes Growing in One of the Two Fields

The time came to harvest the crop of potatoes and the Association members did the harvesting.

Harvesting the Potatoes
Showing Some of the Harvest

The harvested potatoes were placed in a large pile and then divided into baskets and bags for distribution to members, storing for seed and selling for money for the Association.

A Big Pile of Potatoes

Although the lack rain reduced the size of the crop, the harvest produced 5,458 kilograms of potatoes. Each of the beneficiaries received approximately 300 kilograms of potatoes of the harvest, some were kept for seeds and the remaining potatoes were sold to support the Association and continuing crop cultivation.

Separating Potatoes into Baskets
Packing Potatoes into Bags

Impact of the Development Project

The project grant, the funding for the start-up of the development project has generated significant impact in the community in general and for the beneficiaries in particular.

  • The project has established an active Association of 15 women who are working together
  • The Association’s activities has increased self-esteem, togetherness, unity and harmony among the beneficiaries
  • The Association has developed an effective self-help group, involved with savings and loans, microfinancing for the beneficiaries
  • All 15 beneficiaries were given a female goat and now there are 9 kids
  • The beneficiaries produced over 5000 kilograms of potatoes and received 300 kilograms of potatoes
  • Good social relations have been fostered between and among the widows, landless women, orphan girls and other people in the community

The project beneficiaries are being transformed into their own bosses and becoming socially and economically independent. They are able to ensure their children go to school. The beneficiaries are reducing poverty and increasing food security. They will contribute to the economic growth in the community by selling potatoes and goats.

Statement from Prosper, Project Manager

We are committed to work hard to reduce food insecurity and make Burundi a better place to live, even if we always face challenges related to financial support which is one of the setbacks that could prevent us from moving forward the way we want.

This is our time and opportunity to let you know that the project activities are progressing very well.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank John McCready in a special way for having thought about starting such a wonderful platform which is opening many doors and opportunities, connections, friends, experiences and many other opportunities.

We really salute the commitment of John; you have been a channel of blessings to us.

We express our gratitude to the US support team for their commitment to helping our country and for their open heart to Burundi. Thanks to John and his team.

We appreciate in a mighty way all beneficiaries for their commitment to transform our nation.

Prosper received his degree at the Hope Africa University Graduation in February.

Prosper, Project Manager