How Villagers Can Co-manage Complex Projects: An Example from Kenya

CSDi partner Bosco Odongo in western Kenya is developing a project with 120 families in three villages that includes a home gardening for nutrition component, a farmer soil restoration component, and a water conservation program in OL 343.

Just last week he worked with community members in a workshop to develop a Community Implementation Committee to work with his NGO in co-managing this project. Read his short report on setting up the committee and see his excellent photos.

Why set up a community project implementation committee?

In many development projects, as the project nears completion, the beneficiaries have not been prepared to receive the continuation of project activities—and the projects die.

For example, in a recent report, it was noted that almost 50% of village water projects in developing nations fell into disuse within two years. Reasons cited:

  • community members were not trained in the management of the systems
  • community members were not trained in the maintenance of the systems
  • community members did not feel a sense of ownership of the project
  • the formation and training of community-based management committees could work to solve this challenge
What Works?

Another report stated: “The projects in this study were designed on the premise that establishing Village Water and Sanitation Committees would lead to more effective management at the village level. This study provides evidence to suggest that this is correct.”
Why Some Village Water and Sanitation Committees are Better than Others

In his workshop, Bosco worked with both village leaders and people representative of the diversity of the village to form a committee; the committee will include representatives of marginalized members of the community—and most importantly—women.

In a series of workshops over the next 12 months, Bosco is going to focus on engaging the community based committee in launching the project alongside his NGO and learning how to co-manage it—and eventually take it over.

“We had 17 people attend the workshop. We started by discussing why many community projects fail. A major point that was highlighted was lack of involvement of the community in the entire project cycle. We then discussed how the community should be involved, and noted the importance of having a community implementation committee.

I also suggested that we should make sure that about 50% of the eleven committee members should be women and that the committee should also recognize marginalized groups within the community.

At the end of the exercise we had a committee of five women and six men—and everyone seems satisfied with the result.

The committee decided to meet every two weeks prior to project launch—and invited the NGO’s project manager to attend the meetings so that they would be able learn more about how one goes about developing a committee, setting goals, and identifying training needs.”

Do you think that it is a good idea to include community members untrained in development in co-managing a project alongside a professional NGO? Please share your thoughts below.

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