Living life in abundance
Swaziland Integrated Livelihoods Programme
The project goal is “Vulnerable populations within Swaziland have greater access to sustainable livelihoods.” The project aims to do this by improving sustainable agricultural production while building the capacity of rural families to better manage local natural resources and improve their economic coping strategies (including Savings and Internal Lending Communities – SILC) to make them more resilient to external shocks. However, improved food security alone does not necessarily correlate to improved health status. The project therefore also seeks to promote healthy behaviors by improving nutritional knowledge and hygiene practices and reinforcing key HIV and TB prevention messages amongst beneficiaries.
CRS as a major funding partner of Caritas Swaziland has agreed to extend the Caritas Swaziland Livelihoods Integrated Project to September 2015. The partnership started in 2008. The donor pool has been extremely limited in the country (namely the European Union and US Government) given governance concerns. CRS has supported the organization though capacity building as an ongoing Institutional Strengthening. Below are the highlights for the project after we made an evaluation at the end of it in September 2014.
|“It is a good person who gives you a bucket of grain to eat, but it is a better person who gives you a handful of seed to plant”|
SILC Project- Microfinance
Objective 1- Vulnerable populations within the Lubombo and lower Shiselweni Regions have increased their income through SILC and/or engagement with markets
43% (17) SILC Groups established and enjoying the benefits of saving out of the 40 targeted. Our recent last report on evaluation in September 2014, showed we have the 17 groups actively saving with 302 beneficiaries.
Successes of the project- We took a sample of 230 exit survey forms beneficiaries to get the impact of the project
- Beneficiaries of the project are able to satisfy their basic needs through the SILC Groups savings.
- The SILC Project has strengthened unity and solidarity in the communities engaged in the methodology.
- The beneficiaries are now able to take loans from their groups and start Income Generating Activities (IAGs). This is an indication that the loans are taken for productive purposes that will make it easier for them to save. 65% from the sample indicated that they are participating in Income Generating Activities.
- According to the exit evaluation from a sample 70% beneficiaries are now able to have 3 meals in a day
- 50% SILC beneficiaries are able to eat a diversified meals which nutritious and healthy as well
- Children of the beneficiaries have E3 as pocket money in a day
- 75% SILC beneficiaries are able to pay school fees for their children and buy uniforms too.
- The Social Fund makes it a stand alone among other projects implementing activities similar to SILC. As a result beneficiaries enjoy take social fund knowing that they return it without interest.
- Qualified for the CRS regional reporting last quarter by earning points on the Brownie points, Swaziland made it for the first time.
From the external evaluation, all the participants of the project have benefited in different ways from field agent down to beneficiaries level. Filed agents felt that they feel empowered, gained facilitation skills, knowledge of SILC. Beneficiaries are happy to be empowered as well, gained self-independence, ability to satisfy their needs and wants. From my perspective, as the SILC Coordinator, when a community development project comes to a community, it must bring change, especially changing for the better. With that, I mean to say, beneficiaries are now empowered in a sustainable way for instance some beneficiaries have gained self confidence which community leaders have identified from them such that some are now in leadership as secretaries for their chiefdoms, field agents have gained knowledge of SILC and they will become a springbok for any community development project whether its Caritas or any organization. We have enabled communities to identify their potentials and abilities and capacity development, we have modified and strengthened them to become better people to enrich their own lives in a convenient and sustainable way through SILC.
Challenges of the project
- Competition (Organizations implementing similar projects)
- Time Keeping from SILC participants
- Some members not attending trainings on a regular basis
- During certain seasons there is poor attendance because beneficiaries are busy with Income Generating Activities, i.e. Marula season & plowing season
- Drop-outs during the course of the cycle
- In some remote areas, there is poor accessibility due to unreliable transport. At times there is no transport at all
- During share-out times, the groups risk moving around with the cash box full of cash.
- 50% Retention on the first phase of the project FY2012/2013
Lessons & Experiences on the SILC Project
- Timeframe for sensitization of the SILC project has to be 3 months since community elders take their own time to give permission, which automatically delays implementation of activities and leads to the project being behind the scope. Sensitization for the SILC project was staggered because of that reason throughout the implementation period.
- SILC Beneficiaries enjoy share-out time since it bring joys and evidence of the fruitfulness of saving
- With SILC Groups actively saving and paying into the Social Fund for emergencies enhances health and well-being of beneficiaries, particularly for those infected by TB, HIV and AIDS
- In areas where Caritas has worked before, it has made it easier for the project to penetrate through and obtain community member’s buy-in the SILC methodology.
- The gap between elderly and youth in SILC groups creates misunderstandings because of their level of thinking and way of doing things.
- For more buy-in of SILC methodology in the communities, we had to use beneficiaries who were participating in SILC groups who have shared-out to introduce the concept since they were talking from experience.
- Sharing work experiences with the Zambian SILC programmers made a huge impact for the project, for instance we got points on the Brownie points for CRS Reporting to the regional office on SILC for the first time last quarter we qualified.
Objective 2- Vulnerable populations within the Lubombo and lower Shiselweni Regions have improved food security through sustainable agricultural livelihood practices.
80% of targeted HHs and 90% of targeted NCPs increase their food needs met through increased sustainable agricultural production by 50% by September 2014.The targeted households and neighbourhood care points have, to a great extent, benefited enormously form SILP and this has enabled them to produce more food at the homestead level all year round instead of waiting for the rainy season that has often resulted in droughts for most of the targeted communities. Yes percentage range in the production is about 40% of needs met
Nutrition and Hygiene
Objective 3- Vulnerable populations within the Lubombo and lower Shiselweni Regions have improved health status through increased knowledge of better nutritional and hygiene practices and HIV and TB prevention.
This has been supported by the construction of 2,900 tippy taps, that households have embraced with a replication effect being experienced in many communities at household level. Children at primary schools in the area of operation have also immensely benefited from these hygiene practices taught at the household level. A minimum of 90% of NCPs and 80% of HHs with members demonstrating improved health and nutritional behaviors by September 2014