Mar 10, 2020

Strengthen 100 Vulnerable HHs March 2020 Report

STRENGTHEN 100 VULNERABLE HOUSEHOLDS IN CALABAR

March 2020

 

Our goal for the project from inception has been to work with the most vulnerable women-led households in our target communities to move them a position of core poverty and dependence on handouts to one of the self-provision of necessities for their households.  

In the first phase of the project, we enrolled forty women who are caregivers of their households with an average of four children in each household. These women are responsible for shelter, clothing, feeding, education, and healthcare for their children. These women averaged income of about N5000 or $15 per month in addition to growing much of their food.

These women were qualified by the utilization of the national vulnerability tool and qualified as very vulnerable. They also had to have a small portion of land to grow the crops and agree to be trained, sign an agreement that stipulated their operational guidelines and agreed to be bound by it.

At inception, they were put through financial literacy and agricultural training. Agricultural inputs were then provided for them and they were monitored by the project team for adherence to guidelines with planting, watering, and management of the crops.

Despite these measures, the results from this phase were mixed. It was difficult to get many of the beneficiaries to abide by the agreement they had signed. Despite training, they struggled to manage the higher income crops introduced to them and after these were grown required support to sell them. Some with smaller parcels of land didn’t produce as much as was required. Too much of the sales income was consumed, breaking the productivity cycle. Our beneficiaries struggled to save the minimum amounts from sales despite that this was limited to 20% and often spent on their necessities.

Last quarter, we decided to take a step back to evaluate the pilot in order to improve on the subsequent phases. Working with feedback from the beneficiaries we decided that we would no longer introduce any crops they were not familiar with but would support the two main crops that these women cultivate for sale. These are two vegetables, known as sense and water leaves.

Our women and the communities in which they reside have years of expertise in the cultivation and sales of these crops. These crops are also all-season crops and do well all through the year. There is also an established practice of buying easily available planting stalks for replanting each monthly cycle amongst the women in these communities. This bodes well for continuous planting cycles and income sustainability. Also,  we decided to drop from the project all those who were uncommitted, refused or failed to comply with the agreement as well as those who didn’t have sufficient portions of land and replace with those who had land and were prepared to be committed and comply.

After completing this re-evaluation, over the last few weeks we commenced the process of re-evaluating and enrolment of replacement beneficiaries for the project. The beneficiaries for this next phase will next undergo orientation and training before inputs are provided for them over the next few weeks. It is believed that with the additional measures we would see an improvement in outcomes and in the long term have beneficiaries who graduate from the program and can sustainably provide for their households for the long term.

 

Thank you  

Dec 26, 2019

Strengthen 100 Vulnerable HHs Dec 2019 Report

STREGTHEN 100 VULNERABLE HOUSEHOLDS IN CALABAR

Report 24/12/2019

 

In the quarter under review, the focus of the project team was on evaluation of the project towards ensuring the sustainability of its benefits. The beneficiaries had reaped their first harvests and we were anxious to see a reinvestment of the funds and a progression towards sustainability, after all the objective of the project was to make progress beyond direct disbursement of benefits as we were already doing with payment of school and health expenses to support the beneficiaries in income generation so they could take up the responsibility for providing for their households themselves.

Our first hurdle was to overcome the challenge the beneficiaries faced in selling their produce. Almost all of them seemed unable to do so by themselves and required support to find buyers. The project team was therefore engaged in helping to find and negotiate in their behalf. Since the object of the project was beneficiary financial independence this was not a good sign.

Unfortunately, more challenges were to follow as the returns from sales were largely not invested in a second crop. In almost all cases most of the returns were expended on food and survival by the beneficiaries. The fact that some of the crops that made up the initial investment were seasonal crops with replanting materials not easily available locally to the beneficiaries may have contributed to this.

This has caused a fundamental shift in our strategy on the project going forward. Rather than try to get the beneficiaries to invest in any crop they have not mastered our focus would be supporting them to strengthen their efforts with the one or two all season crops most of them are engaged in and understand their value chain these fare waterleaf and sense leaf.

The cultivation of these two plants seem to be what is understood by most women in the communities were the project is being run. The young stalks for planting of these crops are affordable and available locally and typically cost N5,000 ($15) and N10,000 ($30) per bed (10m2). They are easy to manage and secure (not subject to theft or vandalism). They typically mature and are ready for sale in a month. Their sales are pretty straightforward with ready buyers and an established price (100% of the investment) and the women are used to re-investing for their sustainable cultivation.

Since the women are used to these crops and know how and where to sell them and where to get the young stalks for replanting the challenges with the crops that were previously introduced should be overcome. Our plan going forward is to support our beneficiaries in the planting and cultivation of these crops from January 2020.  

 

CONCLUSION:  

During the last few months progress on the project faced a few challenges, our analysis of the issues has brought us to the conclusion that the beneficiaries would do better with cultivation, management  and sales of the simpler crops they have a long history of planting rather than any new crops that may be introduced to them which they may find difficult to understand and manage. We have therefore decided to default to supporting them in this effort going forward.

 

Thank you   

 

 

Asari Nakanda

Monitoring & Evaluation Officer.

Sep 26, 2019

Strengthen 100 Vulnerable HHs 4th Quarter Report

STRENGTHEN 100 VULNERABLE HOUSEHOLDS IN CALABAR

Fourth Quarter Report 7/9/2019

 

In the quarter under review, the project team’s effort was focused on ensuring the beneficiaries demonstrated the skills acquired during the financial literacy training by promoting and marketing of their farm produce, record keeping, budgeting and expenditure. In order to promote market value for the produce from our beneficiaries’ farms, the project team with the collaboration of the agro-economist consultant scouted for off-takers who would readily purchase the produce at fair prices, to enable the farmers plan for the next planting period. The crops harvested by our beneficiaries were corn, okra and pepper.

 

Activities conducted during this period include:

  • Project performance review meeting.
  • Key Performance Indicator review (KPI)
  • Marketing farm produce and sales
  • Documentation (Keeping of Financial Records)
  • Financial projection analysis and saving group
  • Fund raising and enrollment of the last 60 beneficiaries
  • Evaluation

Project Performance Review Meeting                    

The PCEF project team, agro-consultant and the beneficiaries took time to review the process from the enrollment of households, plan preparation, soil treatment, planting, weeding, pest control, harvesting and sales. The team members evaluated the processes and appreciated the beneficiaries who invested their time and energy in the project. The team also expressed displeasure at some beneficiaries who through their lackadaisical attitude, had not invested the effort required to achieve the agreed upon objectives in their households. They charged all caregivers to maximize the opportunity to better their lives as the project had a fixed life span.

The agro-economist during the meetings, emphasized on the importance of keeping good records and adhering to technical instructions. One of the beneficiaries on behalf of others sang a song of thanksgiving.

She said “this project came at a good time and I thank everybody that put money together to help us. As I sold my produce, I and my children have fed well with the farm produce and with the money realized from the sales. I will enroll the children in school this September as the savings groups will enable me borrow to add up and pay for their fees” .

Finally, everyone present attested to the fact that the outcome of the project was remarkable and it would create a great impact in due course.

 

KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS:  

Report per each indicator

1. Number of Caregivers Enrolled (Target 100, Achieved 40)

2. Number of OVC Enrolled (Target 400, Achieved 160)

3. Number of beneficiaries served (Target 500 Achieved 200)

4. Number of caregivers enrolled into saving group (Target 40 Achieved 25)

5. Number of beneficiaries with improved vulnerability status (Target 40 Achieved 35)

 

 

 

MARKETING, SALES AND RECORD KEEPING

Marketing as one the key elements of the financial literacy instruction that was emphasized during the training. However, the beneficiaries didn’t demonstrate this knowledge and relied on the technical team to assist in the marketing of the farm produce. This is a challenge that needs to be addressed in future harvests as it is unsustainable. However there presently exists a strong collaboration between the off-takers and the beneficiaries with the technical team standing in as middle men to ensure fairness. The farm produce sold was bought at fair prices by the off-takers. Most beneficiaries were observed to have recorded their transactions (income/expenditure) in their farm record books.

 

FINANCIAL PROJECTION ANALYSIS AND SAVINGS GROUP

This part of the report will focus on the critical analysis of the input, activities, output, outcome and impact. Data from the baseline (Where they were) will be compared with the present situation (Where they are) and were we want them to be. Ten households (HH) were randomly selected for this analysis. The result has shown that the 31 households which had their harvest ready and made sales that were averaging below 18,000 monthly earned above 27,000 on the average over the three months in the quarter after sales of their farms produce. This was confirmed by our monitoring and evaluation team after analysis of their record books. This trend must not only be sustained but built on. Our goal is that these households will eventually average N50,000 per month or 600,000 per annum. With careful management they would be in a position to take responsibility of their nutrition, clothing, education and healthcare bills etc. The evidence is that the livelihoods of the households participating in the project are being changed. This encourages to solicit for more support as we attempt to reach the project target of empowering 100 vulnerable households.  

 

 

Next STEPS:

 

FUND RAISING AND ENROLLMENT OF THE LAST 60 BENEFICIARIES

At project inception the management and project team of PCEF set the goal of taking 100 households from core poverty to financial sustainability in two years. This was to be achieved by empowering 100 caregivers with basic financial literacy knowledge, technical skills in cultivation of crops, health education, psychosocial support, life building skills, parenting skills and nutrition education. With the available resources the Foundation is in the process of achieving 40% of this target, and will outline a strategy to scale up its outreach quarterly till it achieves its target of 100 households over time.

 

MONITORING AND EVALUATION

The PCEF project monitoring and evaluation team visited all the project sites with monitoring tools. Adopting a participatory and discovering approach, the tools were administered and the following were the outcome.

  • Number of enrolled beneficiaries                                                                           =   40
  • Average earnings per month for the quarter for the households with a harvest                                                                                                                                                                                                =   27k
  • Number of beneficiaries who are ready to re-invest and replant                        =     24%
  • Number of HH with accurate farm records                                                         =     60%
  • Number of beneficiaries who have joined saving groups                                     =   50%
  • Number of beneficiaries who are saving above 1000 in a week                          =   20%.

From the results of the visits, the team resolved that, the number of home visits should be increased to six. The team also agreed that beneficiaries who are saving less than N1000 should be encouraged to increase their savings amount in a week, and a technical person must in be present at all savings group meetings. It was also agreed that the group account opening process should be fast-tracked in order to achieve 100% in each indicator.

 

CONCLUSION:  In the fourth phase of the project a lot of effort went in to ensuring that the produce from the farms were sold at a fair prices and financial records were properly kept. Also the project team identified new households for enrollment by administering the household vulnerability assessment form and child status index forms. Our next activity is to link all Village Savings and Loans Associations to the bank for account opening and to source for funding to enroll the already identified households.

 

We would like to close by appreciating everyone who has partnered to change the livelihoods of forty households, please continue to partner with us as we build on what we have achieved in successive quarters and incrementally scale up the project to reach the goal of 100 households.

 

Justine Apebende

Program Manager

 
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