In July this year, Spark Microgrants starteds a journey that will transform to the better the way local leaders do business and turn around rural villages’ development.
Spark Microgrants is an International non-profit organisation that supports communities to design and launch their own social impact projects.
They launched a series of training and awareness meetings to equip Sector and cell officials and Community Based Facilitators (CBFs) with skills and tools to guide the facilitation of community meetings under the Advancing Citizen Engagement -ACE Project.
The project started in four districts of Burera, Gakenke, Gicumbi, and Huye with awareness workshops at Sector level and training of Sector officials and Social and Economic Development Officers (SEDOs) followed by village meetings.
The interactive workshop intends to build social inclusion enabling target villages to have an agile way to provide feedback and information about their neighborhoods to improved livelihoods.
Sada Murekatete, a CBF from Gaseke Cell said the FCAP training will enable her to transfer knowledge to her neighbours and change their behaviors to the better, hence ensuring better future development.
“We have learned that development starts from a concept to a village project. As a facilitator, I will engage my village in participatory planning to assess development challenges and prepare a village project built from existing resources and opportunities,” she said.
Rosine Nishimwe, Spark Microgrants’s Trainer in Mutete Sector, Gicumbi District said that the training was launched to build confidence of SEDOs and CBFs and to refresh their knowledge in the Facilitated Collective Action Process (FCAP) sessions.
“During village meetings, an overview of the ACE project was discussed as well as the role of CBFs, commonly known as Inyenyeri – two volunteers elected by village members- including one parasocial worker- to monitor the village programs throughout the pathway,” Mrs. Nishimwe said, adding that 76 Inyenyeri from 38 villages were trained in two phases.
Nkundabaganwa Sosthène, one of Inyenyeri in Gaseke cell, Mutete Sector said that the training equipped him with skills to better organize the development plans supported with clear objectives, starting with his own family.
“This includes tangible projects that guide my engagement in the pathway, which will therefore help me to apprehend the needs and challenges of village members I will train”, he said.
On the other hand, the SEDO of Gaseke cell confirmed that the ongoing training is a pillar to village-led planning and development ahead of the project implementation phase.
“The training received aimed at empowering village members and equipping them with skills and knowledge in developing projects that will last longer even after ACE Project. Spark Microgrants aims to reinforce projects initiated by villagers themselves”, he noted.
ACE was officially launched in September 22, to support small businesses creation to improve livelihoods and strengthen social cohesion for around 76,000 people across 249 rural poor villages through small grants and village-based facilitation.
“Projects that you wish to select should aim at addressing development challenges in your respective villages. The ACE project will last for two years and the third year for phasing out. If the grant of 7,600,000 Rwf given to each village does not make around 25million in that period that will be considered as failed projects,”Habanabakize Pierre Celestin, SEDO of Kaganda Cell, Kinyababa Sector said.
A total of 173 people of whom 85 women have been trained in Mutete and Kinyababa sectors. They include 140 CBFs, 9 SEDOs, and 24 Sector officials.
The project is an initiative of Spark Microgrants, implemented through the collaboration of the World Bank, Spark Microgrants, Comic Relief, and Governments of Rwanda and Japan. A total population of 152,645 will benefit from the project in terms of improved village planning and engagement with local government.
The $6 million projects are meant to strengthen citizen engagement, support livelihoods and income generation in rural areas.