Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Friday, September 10, 2010

Two Steps Forward, Three Steps Back, and then, Two More Forward

Running a sustainable development program requires many things – research, planning, marketing, meetings, flexibility, passion, and, a whole lot of patience. The meetings don’t just happen once, nor does the research, these things will happen countless times. And just when you think you have all of the projects on track to success, something will happen to set you back a few steps. This is actually the position GVI found itself in whilst working in a village called Kasaani on the border of Tsavo West National Park in Kenya.

GVI has been working with the community of Kasaani for over three years to provide a group of ex-poachers with sustainable alternative livelihood options. The projects include, free range chicken farming, a handicraft industry, agricultural projects using drought resistant crops and beekeeping. Until recent times, all of the projects were on track to being implemented successfully by early 2011. However, changes in the management and membership of the Community Based Organization (CBO) that GVI is working with lead to a number of conflicts in the community pertaining to both management and operational practices. These disputes had a negative impact upon the community’s ability to continue successfully running the projects initiated by GVI and thus the sustainability of the projects. However, GVI’s programs in Tsavo West are all about sustainability – so we simply went back a few steps to reassess the projects.

-- Adam presents a new management structure to the community of Kasaani --

Highly centralized management systems were hindering the ability of the CBO to operate successfully in Kasaani. As such, GVI staff and volunteers spent a week delivering lessons to the community of Kasaani on alternative management structures they could use for their CBO. The volunteers and staff from GVI also helped the CBO to define job descriptions for the new middle management positions created by the alternative management structure. The CBO received the lessons very enthusiastically and immediately began implementing one the new management structures.

-- The community members of Kasaani listen enthusiastically to GVI's lessons --

Although it’s still early days, the communication systems in Kasaani have definitely improved and the projects seem to be back on track for finalization in early 2011. Let’s hope all steps from now are on are forwards, not backwards in Kasaani. We certainly believe they will be. And if they aren’t, GVI will find a way to help the community overcome the problems. Patience certainly is a virtue in community development programs!