A $90 million, five year (2011–16) intervention program, in 11 African countries including Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, is seeing positive results in the local community.
‘Since I joined the Field Farmer School introduced by ActionAid, I can now sell spinach and cowpea leaves once every week at the vegetable market. I make an average of 600 Kenyan Shillings [A$7.50]. From the proceeds I have managed to purchase three rabbits for 1000 Kenyan Shillings [A$12.50]. I now contribute to household income and my children no longer go hungry’, said Susan Apua a farmer from Kenya.
This is just one example of the work that is being completed by The Australia Africa Community Engagement Scheme (AACES), which is a partnership between the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), ten Australian non-government organisations (NGOs) and their Africa-based partners.
The program focuses on community based interventions in the sectors of: food security, maternal and child health and water and sanitation with particular attention to women, children and people living with disabilities. ‘In the first year of AACES, significant progress was made towards increasing marginalised people’s access to necessary services’, said an AACES statement.
There are three main objectives that AACES strive towards, and include:
- to give marginalised people sustainable access to the services they require;
- to strengthen AusAID policies and programs in Africa, particularly in their ability to target and serve the needs of marginalised people;
- and to better inform the Australian public about development issues in Africa.
AACES states that ‘over one in four people (26.9 per cent), living in Sub-Saharan Africa, are undernourished. In per capita terms, Sub-Saharan Africa populations continue to be the most food insecure in the world’. There are many causes for this, but AACES believe that ‘rising food prices are worsening the situation in many countries. Also, although governments in countries where AACES operates support agricultural development as a path to food security lack of investment in the sector, particularly small-scale farming, still prevails’.
This is why successful and achievable gains are so important and an example of this gain is seen in Ethiopia where AACES say that ‘CARE’s partner ‘SoS Sahel’ trained and provided 700 marginalised smallholder farmers with improved seed varieties and beehives. 52 women-headed households were trained in livestock husbandry and feed development. Farmers were also assisted with the formation of 13 producer groups, 2 savings and credit co-operatives and 25 savings groups’.
Further, in Zimbabwe AACES said that ‘AFAP’s partner, ‘Community Technology Development Trust’ (CTDT) introduced mechanised conservation agriculture through the use of the Jambo Direct Seeder (an ox-drawn implement). The use of the Jambo Seeder is expected to increase crop hectarage and reduce the amount of manual labour required’.
In their 2011-12 report AACES also state that they ‘had a positive impact on food security by assisting 13,000 households to adopt new agricultural technologies and sustainable farming practices. It supports 3,300 households to access farm inputs such as tools, improved seeds and livestock and helped 12,500 households to access new or improved agricultural services. Advocacy platforms for smallholder farmers were strengthened and 28,700 people were provided with training on their rights to land, food and access to government agricultural services’.
These successes are testament to the work completed in this unique cooperation and is highlighted by Phillip Walker, the Chair of the Program Steering Committee (PSC), who said, ‘I have seen how in its first year AACES has provided compelling evidence of the ability of civil society to work together to ensure the active involvement of the key beneficiaries. Already, we are pleased that tangible change has become apparent in AACES operational areas’.
While significant progress was made during the first year of the program in delivering food security interventions, lessons were learned as ‘program partners encountered some challenges that slowed down the pace of implementation or required project adjustment’, said the ACCES statement. The report highlights that the challenges included: ‘low and erratic rainfall patterns for farmers who rely on rain fed agriculture, high illiteracy among women, social and cultural barriers and various country specific political, social and economic problems’.
Although challenges were presented, it is believed that the ‘strong partnerships’ formed through this project, as well as adapting as quickly as possible, will be vital to the continued success of AACES. An example of this was highlighted by AACES who stated, ‘in addressing the various challenges faced by smallholder farmers, program partners promoted water and soil conservation techniques, water harvesting and provided cheaper irrigation equipment’.
The partnerships formed through this project have also helped overcome many challenges. ‘Drawing on the partnerships established so far program partners have been able to leverage resources, share best practices and successfully work with governments, community groups and various other stakeholders’, stated the AACES report. Margaret McKinnon, First Assistant Director General, AusAID Africa and Community Programs, emphasised the uniqueness and importance of the partnerships and said, ‘AACES is an innovative approach to working with civil society organisations. It is not a typical grant/donor relationship. AACES is a partnership agreement where all parties listen to, share with and support one another to improve development outcomes in Africa’.
The 10 Australian NGOs implementing programs as part of AACES are: ActionAid Australia, Australian Foundation for the Peoples of Asia and the Pacific, Anglican Overseas Aid (with Nossal Institute and Australian Volunteers International), CARE Australia, Caritas Australia, Marie Stopes International Australia, Oxfam Australia, Plan International Australia, WaterAid Australia and World Vision Australia.
This partnership is an exceptional model and its success is highlighted by Joseph Ogur, a government administration official in Ndhiwa district of Kenya, who said, ‘community members have become empowered and are able to question issues and demand for their rights and accountability from us as their leaders... for all the years I have served this community, I had never witnessed the vigour and the level of participation and attitude towards change seen now... Truly, it’s a real change...’
Latest from oli
- Disadvantage dunked at London Youth Games, by Greenhouse Charity U16 Girl’s Basketball team
- Stunted growth due to under nutrition is slowly being eradicated, but not for long.
- Marine conservation in India, engenders pup birth of the extraordinary Whale Shark.
- Isolation and vulnerability, successfully being challenged
- New National Park in Bhutan is increasing Snow Leopard populations