Partnership Development in East Africa October 2015
In October CEO Shane Halpin and newly appointed MDO, (Mission Development Officer) Susan Lakes undertook a combined partnership development and monitoring and evaluation field trip into East Africa. The visit was perhaps one of our most ambitious as it incorporated four countries in just three weeks beginning with Zambia, Kenya, Uganda and culminating in Rwanda. The purpose of the visit was primarily to follow up on the activities of VC’s East African coordinator Rose Bavuga based in Kampala, visiting a number of diocesan projects that have expressed interest in having VC support. The secondary and also key reason was to carry out M&E visits to six VC projects namely CIC in Lusaka, Capuchins SHARPZ project in Lusaka, Presentation Sisters in Mongu Zambia; FMSJ in Nairobi Kenya; Caritas Kampala; and BMCTI in Fort Portal Uganda.
A staggering 33 meetings were held during this short trip with 11 religious congregations and 7 diocesan projects. We met three Bishops including an Anglican Bishop and two vicar generals and a mother general! Of the 11 congregations we met, we were already working with four and the remaining 7 were interested in having a VC volunteer in their project.
While it is difficult to pull out key issues to be addressed it appeared that VC has a considerable niche in providing support at organisational level for congregations during their ongoing transition to local ownership. As the visit to the congregations proceeded it was quite clear that the mismatch between the ‘development speak’ of funders and the language used in day to day operations on the ground is widening. Left unsupported this has serious consequences for sustainability of perfectly viable projects. This was highlighted in a recent evaluation of VC as a challenge for the future. It was also apparent that VC need to strengthen its approach to in-field appointment of local staff as part of its portfolio of project services. Many of the projects visited would greatly benefit from the hiring of trained local staff if available to complement and finally replace international appointments in the future.
In terms of our existing projects that were monitored, it is quite clear that great work has been achieved across the board. From the compilation of excellent research reports across six remote sites in Kenya, and 41 remote parishes in Kampala; the provision of outreach to the wider Fort Portal region in the area of domestic violence, to the provision of counselling service and vocational training in Lusaka; and health care services for children with disability in the Western Province of Zambia – our volunteers are going the extra mile for the poor and marginalised. We salute you all!