Humana People to People

Humana People to People

How Farmers’ Clubs in Mozambique are improving farm productivity

To conclude the series of blogs we have posted in line with COP23, which took place in Bonn last week, Humana People to People is showcasing a final example of how members across the world are working at community-levels to mitigate the environmental and human impact of climate change.

In Mozambique, Humana People to People is doing just that. Via Humana People to People’s programs, farmers in Mozambique are equipped with the tools and mechanisms needed to strengthen their capacity to be resilient to the negative effects of global warming. 

Farmers’ Clubs Sofala and Zambezia focus on creating sustainable agricultural development among the rural small-scale farmers in Sofala and Zambezia provinces. Established in Mozambique in 2014, to date there have been 15,565 farmers that are actively involved in the program, which can be sub-divided in to 312 clubs of 50 farmers each in Caia, Maringue, Nicoadala and Namacurra districts.

The rural small-scale farmers are trained in climate change resilience to strengthen capacities in mitigating, and adapting to, the effects of global warming. Humana People to People uses 624 demonstration fields, of which half are for dry land crops and half for horticulture production, to conduct training in conservation agriculture. The project has established 292 rope-pump supported wells to increase access to water for farmers and communities, which is used in both households and for crop irrigation all year round. Each well serves up to 100 people.

Benedito Joaquim, a Farmers’ Club member, had this to say:

I’m a member of Wandana Farmers’ Club since 2014. I want to express my upmost gratitude to ADPP Mozambique Farmers’ Clubs project for teaching me how to produce vegetables, utilise line planting, and prepare composts that increase yields.  In 2016, I successfully harvested vegetables throughout the year, allowing me to feed my family and earn an income from the sale of excess vegetables on the local market. From the income, I have been able to buy iron sheets that I have used as a roof for my house, and to buy school materials for my two children.” 

Farmers’ Clubs across Mozambique are also providing small-holder farmers with equipment that can speed up agricultural production and increase incomes. The provision of grinding mills is one example that has greatly facilitated local agricultural production. Benedito reported:

“Today I am thrilled to have a grinding mill within walking distance from my home. The grinding mill is owned by my club, and enables my community and I to process maize into mealie-meal as well as grind cassava. What’s more, we are able to store excess harvested grain in the common storage facility as we negotiate prices with agro-dealers. In the past, life was tough as I had to walk long distances in order to process my grains to feed my family.”  

Another beneficiary of the club is 64-year old Mama Actinica. For her, the warehouse and the grinding mill came at the right time. No longer forced to walk long distances to find the nearest grinding mill, she expressed her gratitude:

With the grinding mill installed at Malei, I’m able to grind maize and cassava right on my door step. The grinding mill also serves people who live in my neighborhoodIt means that now I spend far less time on the road – whereas before I used to have to travel 10 km to get the service of a grinding mill, I can now use the mill locally and spend my time doing other things.”

Currently there are 10 Farmers’ Clubs that benefit from the common storage warehouse and the grinding mill. The grinding mill is run by the club and income earned from the mill is used to pay the guard, the miller and the book keeper thus contributing to job creation at a local level.

The main focus of COP23 has been around high-level intervention and international agreements such as the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which was spearheaded at this year’s conference by the UK and Canada to phase out coal power. However less emphasis was placed on what can be done at a grass-roots level to positively impact the lives of rural communities that wholly depend on the land. Initiatives such as the Farmers’ Clubs in Mozambique are evidence of the tangible difference that community-led initiatives can have. It is therefore in the interest of the international community to encourage greater action at a local level to mitigate climate change and support initiatives such as Humana People to People’s Farmers’ Clubs in continuing to make a positive impact in the future.

 

 

 

To achieve SDG4, we need trained, motivated and supported teachers

 

We all know education is important. We talk about it as though it is our shining hope in the dark. Education is one of the most important tools we have to shape our values, learn to navigate challenges in life, and learn the practical and critical thinking skills we need to create the lives for ourselves that we wish to lead. This is part of the reason why education is so important for community development.

 

SDG4 is undisputedly related to our ability to achieve the rest of the 2030 Agenda. Targets to ensure universal, equitable and quality education for all include all phases of life, from early childhood to life-long learning. It includes the need to equip young people with the skills they need for the careers they wish to pursue. It includes eliminating disparities in all types and levels of education for marginalised and vulnerable groups. It includes imparting the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender quality, peace and non-violence, global citizenship, and cultural diversity.

 

And those who will be imparting this education are our teachers.

 

According to the 2017/18 Global Education Monitoring Report, in OECD countries, teachers earn on average only 81% of what other full-time working professionals with tertiary education earn. In many developing countries, particularly in rural areas, teachers are forced to rely on community contributions to support themselves. In some schools there may be only one teacher for up to 100 children. Others lack basic building and sanitation standards, and still less have access to electricity. Despite the enormous challenges, the education share of total aid feel from 10% in 2009, to 6.9% in 2015.

 

Despite these incredibly difficult circumstances, we expect teachers to do much more than teach.

 

To provide high quality instruction to all students, teachers need high quality training themselves. They also need incentives and ongoing support from their school management teams, communities and governments. Humana People to People members manage over 53 pre-service primary teacher training colleges across seven countries. Courses incorporate essential life skills and critical thinking components to equip and empower trainees to be able to teach effectively in the challenging environments will face once they start teaching.

 

In addition, Humana members have also begun Communities of Practice for graduates to pool knowledge and resources and support each other. In Malawi, the network is currently made up of 87 teachers who represent 56 primary schools across 15 districts in the country’s Central and Southern regions. Members meet several times a year to share teaching materials, experiences and strategize ways to overcome common difficulties. Despite limited resources and time, the network is an important source of support and motivation for members.

 

But this is only a small step in the right direction. Teachers need more from us if we hope to achieve SDG4 and indeed, the 2030 Agenda. New perspectives and practices in teaching and learning is one of the main themes at this year’s WISE summit in Doha, which brings together some of the world’s top thinkers around education. It is a unique chance to include other stakeholders in how to support teachers to achieve everything we expect from them in building the world we want, and it should not be passed up.

 

How climate change actions are impacting on agricultural productivity in India

 

 

This week diplomats, leaders and civil society are meeting in Bonn, Germany for another round of climate talks. India has already made its mark – with the country’s chief negotiator, Ravi Shankar Prasad intervening on the first day when he remarked that if (rich) nations don’t follow the decisions taken in the previous COPs, what confidence do developing countries have that the decisions taken in this COP23 would be honoured. India knows all too well the effects of changing climates and has been pegged as a frontline state in the fight against it. Climate change has heavily impacted numerous sectors such as agriculture, water resources, forestry, and energy. Whilst no one is immune to climate change, its repercussions hit the poor harder than anyone else.

 

Humana People to People India has joined hands with rural famers in Rajasthan State to build sustainable communities. Initiatives include reducing dependencies on fossil fuels, supporting famers and merchants and encouraging green practices through the promotion of cleaner environmentally friendly models. These all contribute to mitigating and adapting to the growing challenge of climate change. The idea is to empower the rural farmers into building coping mechanisms which assist to improve their rural livelihood thus protecting the environment in the process.

 

Rajasthan is a drought prone state with large herds of cattle (about 10.13% of the country’s livestock population). Humana People to People have worked with communities to set up biogas plants thereby ensuring that dung generated by the community’s animals is made available for generation of biogas. Biogas plants also produce an organic fertilizer called slurry as a by-product. Slurry is a safe, nutrient-rich alternative to chemical fertilizers that can be applied to crops and trees.

 

“Biogas for Enhanced Quality of Life” was a 3 year project which started in 2014 and phased out in 2016. It was implemented by Humana People to People India. The project benefitted 100 villages in Dausa district. Under the project 400 Biogas plants were constructed. From the Biogas plants families get access to clean energy used for cooking and lighting. The use of bio-slurry, the by-product of the fermentation process, is used as farm manure resulting in increased agricultural output. This process also reduces the expenditure on chemical fertilizers including pesticides and relieves the workloads of rural women in particular.

 

An analysis of the impact of this project shows that improvements were not just made in agricultural output but that it had a positive influence at the family level. The following is an extract from the external evaluation of the Biogas for Enhanced Quality of Life Project, Dausa, Rajasthan, India:

 

“Sugni Gurjar and Ratiram Gurjar, aged 45 and 52 respectively, are residents of Garhdoobi, Bandikui. The family has 7 adult members and 6 school going children. The family’s primary fuel source prior to the biogas construction was fuelwood, which was later substituted almost entirely by biogas.

 

The family has an active kitchen garden of around 0.5 ha, on which they grow vegetables such as eggplant, leafy vegetables, chilies, peas and other seasonal vegetables. The produce is entirely consumed by the members of the family.

 

The family had started exclusively using biogas slurry in the vegetable garden, and this was the third harvest after the introduction of slurry. The family reported that the yield was higher than earlier when they used fertilizers and chemicals. In fact they saw significant improvement in the last harvest, perhaps due to the fact that it takes time for the nature of the soil to change in response to the manure application.

 

The size of the vegetables has increased and they taste better now. The family also saw this superior produce as a prospective means of earning in the future by selling their produce, and now it plans to allocate more land to their vegetable garden.

 

Humana People to People India has facilitated construction of 737 Biogas plants across the states of Rajasthan and Haryana, directly impacting more than 4 332 people over the last 6 years. An additional 200 Biogas plants are expected to be constructed in the third phase project ending in 2019.

 

 

 

Answering the Call to End Poverty

 

 

Poverty has a stronger impact on children and women. Empowering women and creating better conditions for children’s growth results in greater and faster progress in poverty reduction. 

 

Humana People to People joins the rest of the world as it commemorates the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is marked under the theme “Answering the Call of October 17 to end poverty: A path toward peaceful and inclusive societies”. The theme for this year reminds us of the importance of the values of dignity, solidarity and voice underscored in the Call to Action to fight to end poverty everywhere. The Call to Action recognizes the knowledge and courage of families living in poverty throughout the world, the importance of reaching out to the poorest and building an alliance with citizens from all backgrounds to end poverty.

 

Eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. The reality of our world shows that the greater proportion of women suffering from various forms of poverty is linked to their unequal access to education, to productive resources and to control of assets, and in some cases to unequal rights in the family and in society. This in fact, impacts negatively on the entire household, particularly on children, and the whole community. 

 

Humana People to People stands shoulder to shoulder with the children and women in their various actions working towards changing their status of being poor. By standing together with the members of the disadvantaged communities, Humana People to People seek to actively engage the participation of the poor into coming up with appropriate local solutions that respond effectively in solving their own circumstances. 

 

 

In developing the community development programs, Humana People to People employs the locals who understand the issues affecting the community and are better suited to initiate actions, campaigns, trainings and organize the community into joining hands and be at the fore-front of their own development. The project leader is the mainstay of the project. It means she/he stays among the community where the project is being implemented and is readily available anytime she/he is needed. The arrangement makes it possible for the project leader to know better the community, build relationships, gain confidence and trust.  

 

The introduction of the United Nations supported Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), has further inspired the Humana People to People approach on fighting poverty. Ending poverty is an overarching objective of the 17 SDGs and obligated all countries to end poverty in all forms, through strategies that guarantee the protection and development of humanity.

 

In 2013, an estimated 767 million people lived below the international poverty line of $1.90 a day — down from 1.7 billion people in 1999. 42 per cent of people in sub-Saharan Africa continued to subsist in conditions of extreme poverty in 2013. Humana People to People understands that responding to poverty starts with focusing more on the children. 

 

Poverty hits children hardest. While a severe lack of goods and services hurts every human, it is most threatening to children growth: survival, health and nutrition, education, participation, and protection from harm and exploitation. It creates an environment that is damaging to children’s development in every way – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. 

 

Child Aid is a Humana People to People designed rural development and community based program which seek to create a protective child environment that support better future prospects for every child. The holistic approach enshrined in the Child Aid project is aimed at mobilizing children, families and communities to strengthen their income, health and security. 

 

 

The all inclusive Child Aid program organize the families and their communities into taking actions. Child Aid recognizes the fact that in order to nurture children successfully; an entire community must be supported and strengthened. 

In the year 2016, Humana People to People, implemented 237 Child Aid projects impacting the lives of 1.9 million people. The Child Aid program was implemented in 14 countries spanning across Africa, Asia and Latin America. In Zambia, a USAID funded Child Aid Zambia Families project is reaching out to 125 000 orphans and vulnerable children including their families by improving health and welfare. 

 

In India, a unique microfinance program is empowering rural women by achieving financial inclusion thus striving for gender equality. The program known as “Humana Microfinance,” provides loans to women in poor rural regions of India. The micro-loans go towards starting up a range of income-generating activities with the objective of fighting poverty. 

 

During the year 2016, a total of 39 “Humana Microfinance” units impacted on the lives of 81 000 women, translating to 486 000 individuals during the financial credit life circle. The striking outcome of the “Humana Microfinance’ is the financial literacy trainings which are built around improving financial knowledge which, over the time, improves household income and economically empowers women in wealth creation. 

 

 

Humana People to People re-affirms its commitment to create social protection for the poor and vulnerable as a benchmark to increase access to basic services by 2030. 

 

 

 

"Learning to read in their mother tongue helps to accelerate children's learning"

 

 

Food for Knowledge program is a Planet Aid Inc project being funded by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) under the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition and the program is implemented by ADPP Mozambique in the province of Maputo.

Food for Knowledge has been running since 2013. Until end of 2016 almost 33 million school meals have been consumed by more than 60 000 children. The school meals have achieved a marked impact on school enrolment, active participation in classes as well as a marked improvement in children’s nutrition.

The extension of the program into the second phase has seen the addition of a literacy strengthening program, targeting early grades (1 – 3) in primary school. This program is being implemented by ADPP Mozambique and in partnership with Cambridge Education.

An interview with Dr. Paula Green, a specialist with extensive experience in developing early grade reading programs in various Southern African countries, was recently conducted by Planet Aid Inc and further published on Club of Mozambique portal and on “Their World”, the Sarah and Gordon Brown Foundation website.

 

We invite you to read the detailed account of the interview with Dr. Paula Green:

A new programme is teaching young children in Mozambique to read in their native language before moving on to learn Portuguese.

 

Young children in Mozambique speak in one of several native languages when they enter school.

But they frequently are taught to read in Portuguese, the official languageof the nation. This can be an obstacle when it comes to them acquiring early reading skills.  

To help improvements in early reading, Planet Aid and its partners ADPP Mozambique and Cambridge Education have been implementing an early-grade reading programme that teaches children to “crack the code” of the written word by learning to read in their mother tongue.

This helps to accelerate learning and makes it easier for children to later learn Portuguese. The project has developed classroom and other materials for early-grade reading in two national languages - Xichangana and Xirhonga. It has also developed and is implementing teacher and reading-coach training programmes. 

The literacy initiative is part of Planet Aid's Food for Knowledge project, which is funded by the US Department of Agriculture under the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program.

Paula Green, Ph.D., is a literacy specialist with Cambridge Education working on the literacy component of Food for Knowledge. She has extensive experience of developing early-grade reading programmes and was a senior literacy specialist and national training manager for 16 years with the prestigious Molteno Institute for Language and Learning in South Africa.  

We spoke with Dr Green in South Africa to discuss the work being done in Mozambique to strengthen literacy.

 

 

Why is a focus on literacy important for Mozambique?

We often say that the first three years are when children “learn to read” in order that in later years they can “read to learn.” Through literacy, children gain access to the knowledge and skills available in all other subjects. Without this foundational skill, the years spent in school are at best demoralising, at worst useless.

The Mozambique Ministry of Education and Human Development has been concerned about alarming statistics on student learning outcomes and has made early-grade reading a national priority. Although progress has been made, the government is still in the process of rolling out its bilingual education initiative.

The Food for Knowledge literacy component is aiding the bilingual education strategy of the ministry. From the very outset and on an ongoing basis, the literacy team has worked diligently with the ministry to develop and implement this programme.

 

 

What is the approach and the evidence behind it?

The National Reading Panel in the United States is a key part of the empirical foundation of the project, as it is for most current literacy interventions in the developing world.[1] Based on a wide-ranging meta-study, the panel identified a combination of effective elements involved in teaching early-grade reading. 

These elements are the concepts of print, phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

Our approach relies on a systematic, daily practice of skills that support a child’s ability to read and write independently. It adheres to a Gradual Release of Responsibility methodology, encouraging teachers to model and practise with the children and then to support them in practising by themselves.

Instruction begins using the children's locally-spoken language and gradually introduces Portuguese into the curriculum. 

Because the content and methodology are new to most teachers in Mozambique, the approach employs strong scaffolding, especially during the introductory phase. 

Scaffolding means to provide detailed lesson plans that clarify each step of the instructional sequence, helping to build skills in the new methodology. 

As the teachers become more confident with the activities and steps, they can choose to adapt or generate their own lesson plans to suit the particular needs of their own learners. 

What has the project done so far?

Our first task was to develop a framework for the systematic development of listening, speaking and letter knowledge, along with comprehension and writing skills for the first grade. 

Close collaboration with the Ministry of Education on this ensured that the programme aligned with the official curriculum.

We then focused on developing weekly lesson plans for grade one along with a wide array of instructional materials that include a three-volume teaching guide, 28 read-aloud stories, 22 decodable books, student books, conversation posters and more.

Next we developed a training plan and manuals for teachers and literacy coaches and completed all the training.  There are currently 27 coaches that are providing support to 215 teachers at 141 schools.  

Part of the coaches’ training involved the use of electronic tablets for recording classroom observations and for administering a shortened version of an assessment called the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) weekly. The results are then transmitted in real time to headquarters staff, who monitor results and provide feedback.

How else is the literacy component being monitored and evaluated?  

The literacy component will undergo a complete external evaluation by outside experts, using the full EGRA methodology. The baseline analysis for the evaluation was recently completed and the final evaluation will be performed in three years.

But that’s not all. We wanted more frequent performance monitoring to better inform our practice as we go along. So we also developed a baseline literacy test in Xichangana and Xirhonga (as well as Portuguese) and administered it in grades one to three in May. 

The findings of this baseline are being used to inform the development of the second and third-grade materials. There will also be an internally-conducted end-line study.

Teachers are also encouraged to carry out weekly assessments of students and record their scores. These teacher-performed assessments are designed to be easy to do so as not to overwhelm teachers and run the risk of them avoiding assessment altogether. 

 

 

What is your outlook for the future of the project?

I feel very positive and excited about the possibility of making a lasting impact. I say that having had many years of experience in many other literacy programmes in sub-Saharan Africa.

I am pleased that the materials are being well received and am proud that, in a very short time, we have managed to develop a large quantity of materials to an acceptably high standard.

Also, the fact that this programme has employed dedicated reading coaches is a strength. The ongoing support they are providing the teachers addresses one of the common challenges of such programmes, where the enthusiasm generated during training dissipates when teachers get back to school and are faced with the challenges of large classes, limited resources etc. 

The fact that the teachers are visited regularly by enthusiastic, supportive coaches will go a long way to sustain commitment, hopefully well beyond the years of the programme.

Another factor that bodes well for sustainability is the commitment of the literacy team and support provided by the senior team. Effective working relationships take time to be established. 

This has been the case in our team - getting processes established, recruiting the additional essential staff and allocating roles to specific team members. 

We are about to embark on a big programme of second-grade materials development, while still supporting the existing first-grade classes. Though the extent of the work is daunting, I am encouraged that we are on the right track. We know where we are going and what we want to achieve.

 

 

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