A regional approach for local impact


Financial efficiency can be achived by working for impact via region-wide organizations.

Global finances are in turmoil, and increasing numbers of mushrooming organisations are fighting for scarce funds. The pressure is on for organisations to show increased impact with minimum investment.   Accountability for the funds goes down to the last cent – no tricks!  And in case you’re still in doubt, ask the many big officials that have been paraded before courts of law to account for allegedly misused moneys.  

How then can organisations operate at reduced budgets and at minimum costs, while at the same time producing globally recognisable impact by improving the livelihoods of people in developing countries?

Many theories and practices have been advanced to address this issue, sometimes carefully selecting particular countries for support sometimes simply tossing a coin. When it is tails, then that must be a country somewhere in southern Africa; heads, and most likely the support should go to Cape Verde!

However one approach that has attracted the serious attention of many development practitioners is the regional approach: working in  organisations at the regional level via systems of national chapters. The logic of this approach is that efforts at regional level will trickle down to national level, as long as programs are inclusive and well-managed.

Take for instance the West African Agriculture productivity program (WAAPP) based in Sierra Leone, which has gone a long way to  improve agricultural productivity all while involving youth in the process.

WAAPP is aimed at improving agriculture and food security in the region by generating and adopting improved new technologies. The program is divided into four main areas: enabling conditions for cooperation, capacity-strengthening for national agricultural research systems, accelerating the adoption of technologies, and effective monitoring and evaluation. The idea is to ensure that what happens at regional level is replicated at national levels.  

The West African project hires extension workers in Sierra Leone to carry out research and dissemination of information about agricultural technologies to the farmers. Since they deal mostly with the rural farmers who do not have internet access, they make use of radios to share information widely.

The government of Sierra Leone has been very supportive in funding farm-based organisations in order to improve the agriculture in the country, and with the help of organizations like WAAPP they seem to be hitting their goal: Optimal impact with efficient use of financial resources. 

Hopefully, other organizations will be able to use the example of WAAPP to develop truly lasting impacts in their area–from the region all the way down to the farmer.

Blogpost by Margaret Bulamu, a social media reporter for AASW6.

Photo: FAO Burundi

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