Nutrition and agriculture interventions sustainably integrated to improve nutrition status and livelihoods of vulnerable populations; a sentence that aptly describes the work that the Community Connector (CC) project has been engaged in from 2012-2016. The USAID funded project, in an experience sharing workshop held on 22nd November, 2016, announced an end of contract and operations.
CC was a five year (2012-2016) community-based project that operated on $24M fixed price contract designed by USAID/Uganda under the Feed the Future Initiative to support the implementation of the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy and Investment Plan 2010–2015 and the Uganda Nutrition Action Plan 2011–2016. The project was a flagship for the Collaborating, Learning and Adapting (CLA) approach and was implemented by a consortium (FHI 360, Self Help Africa, Grameen Foundation, Building Resources Across Communities, Communication for Development Foundation Uganda, Village Enterprise, Gulu University and Mbarara University of Science and Technology) as well collaborated on activities with other implementing partners both international and local.
The project took on an integrated approach, to a series of interventions inculcating gender dynamics; nutrition behaviours and health; agriculture and food security; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); and economic livelihoods, in a bid to improve nutritional status of children and women and improve disposable incomes in poor rural households that mostly rely on subsistence farming in 15 focal districts: Agago, Dokolo, Ibanda, Kabale, Kamwenge, Kanungu, Kasese, Kisoro, Kiryandongo, Kole, Lira, Masindi, Nebbi, Oyam and Pader.
During the workshop attended by USAID personnel, members of district local government from the focal districts, consortium members and implementing partners collaborated with, attendees got to experience the project from inception to end, the mistakes made during the learning and the adaptations made along the way. One of the presenters, Benjamin Aisya, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Manager, noted that the project was indeed a success and they felt they had done a pretty good job but was of the view that a couple of things needed to be looked into for better performance of future projects. He went on to add that the project was indeed involved in a lot of collaborations however the level of collaboration was low with some implementing partners which would have proved useful. He also added that the project was unable to ascertain whether the needs of the targeted households were met which he felt needed to be looked into.
Integrated champions from the best performing districts (Dokolo, Ibanda and Kiryandongo) and/or communities with extraordinarily engaged persons also had a chance to say a word. Reactions ranged from gratitude for all the improvements brought on by the project’s existence to disheartenment because of the end of the project. The speakers insistently requested for an extension of the project. Exhibitions by the consortium partners were also held where posters and items detailing the work done were displayed.
In his closing remarks, Mark A. Meassick, USAID Mission Director, expressed his appreciation towards the amazing work done by the project. He observed that the project was a flagship for the CLA approach and it afforded the USAID to learn that adapting was costly; however not adapting was even more costly; effective CLA required a team that believed in CLA and good strong leadership exhibited by the Chief of Party, Dr Robert Mwadime. He went on to add that the project illustrated that lasting solutions to end poverty, improve food security and fight malnutrition could be found by engaging integrated multi-sectoral approaches/ interventions in the communities. He urged the other partners to use the lessons learned from the project to further improve their own projects.
Technical briefs shared during the exhibitions can be downloaded from the link: https://www.fhi360.org/resource/usaiduganda-community-connector-technical-note-series
written by Lukiya Birungi