The rice project in Fiarenana is going really well. Zahana gave the women's group one ton of rice as a loan, and they give back 1.650 tons. The women's group decided, that instead of selling the surplus in October when the so-called “époque dure” or “hard period” starts, which is a nice expression for a period of famine, they will be distributing some of the “surplus” rice among the members of the women's group. Each person will receive 38 kg, so their families have something to eat. This should tide them over for the next two months. (See website for more information about the rice microcredit project with the women's group.)
But in the real world not all projects go as well as this one. In the other village, the women's group rice project’s harvest was successful as well. The biggest difference was that they distributed all the rice, including the initial one “seed fund” ton from Zahana among themselves and ate it. They did this unilaterally without checking with Zahana first. After quite some probing of what happned to the seed fund, they admitted that all the rice had been distributed indeed.
Their rationale was: “this rice belongs to Zahana, and if Dr. Ihanta would have been here, she would have given it to us anyway. So we took it.” While this is an interesting rationale or explanation, it still means, that they did not keep their end of the agreement. Just taking and distributing all of the rice, without keeping the initial one ton provided by Zahana as the seed fund, is not what this project is all about. So we have decided to discontinue the rice microcredit project with a woman's group in the village of Fiadanana for the time being. This was not an easy decision for us, but after working with his women's group for over five years, there have to be some consequences if decisions are made unilaterally, without consulting their partner Zahana. This decision is guaranteed to start some lively discussion, because Zahana will continue to work with the women's group in the other village with their successful rice seed fund. Once we get a new proposal we will of course consider it.
Ihanta and Markus
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