Three-monthly report: October-December 2003
BACKGROUND – project aims, methodologies
The Sustainable Livelihoods for Rural Youth Project (SLRYP) is a two-year project funded by AusAID and implemented by Kastom Gaden Association (KGA – a non-government organization registered as a charitable trust in Solomon Islands).
Improving national stability
The lack of opportunities for rural youth has contributed to national instability. Developing opportunities for young people in rural areas is a key issue for future stability and sustainable development.
To create livelihoods and opportunities based on sustainable agriculture for rural youth.
- provide opportunities for unemployed rural youth to engage in interesting, meaningful and productive agricultural activity
- assist rural communities to assess and address their urgent social and economic needs
- meet basic needs for livelihood and food security in the rural communities.
The project utilises:
- locally developed technologies fused with outside experiences
- participatory extension and technology development
- the use of appropriate social structures based on family units
- regular field-based follow up
- restoration of degraded agricultural environments.
The project is a trial of a new methodology to provide intensive field based-training and support for livelihood models expected to have wider application.
- development of models of agricultural enterprise, suitable for youths, that build on local knowledge and social structures and that can be sustained over the long term
- restoration of degraded agricultural lands in areas of high population density
- reforestation of degraded land and smallholder diversification of old coconut plantations
- appropriate skills training and models of extension that suit village and social structures.
The project runs for two years.
- the first year of the project centred on North Malaita, working with the Baetolau Farmers Network
- in year two the project continues in Malaita and has expanded to South Choiseul, Choiseul Province, working in partnership with three local provincial based NGO’s: Sasamuqa Hospital, Babatana Farmers Association and Lauru Federation of Farmers Association.
MONITORING THE PROJECT
October – December 2003
The project started in April 2002. Summarised below if progress made in the main activity areas relate to each project output during October – December 2003.
Provincial project coordinators have worked well:
- Iro Ramoi, project coordinator for Malaita since July 2003
- Gwendlyn Pitavini, project coordinator for Choiseul since June 2003.
A new system of contracting of village-based resource people was introduced:
- the basis was an assignment agreement rather than the previous part-time work contracts
- the new system appears to be working well in Malaita and Choiseul; it has allowed for more flexible work assignments and the use of different people with different skills – especially the youths themselves.
Monitoring teams successful
On Malaita, groups of young farmers formed into teams produce their own monitoring reports using standard forms. The monitoring is also an awareness process with meetings held with communities and with family groups of young farmers. This model will be introduced to Choiseul in the next quarter.
- the project is likely to be completed by the end of April 2004.
- a participatory evaluation is planned for May 2004.
This will represent a delay of some 1-2 months due to a delay in receipt of project tranches in early 2003.
A proposal to AusAID for a three year program building on the experiences of SLRYP was submitted under Oxfam Australia as part of the AusAID NGO Cooperation Agreements.
Unfortunately, the project was not funded. AusAID has encouraged KGA to submit a proposal direct to the AusAID post in country.
Establishment of youth livelihoods based on sustainable agriculture and small livestock
- 36 youths were trained this quarter in the second intake in the ILKS training program
- 31 youths were trained in the first course in the second intake of the ILPS program
- training was carried out respectively at the Gounafiu and Suluigata Farmer Schools established under this project
- both courses are now being trained 100 per cent by local resource people (in year one there was input from expatriate trainers)
- evaluations of these courses were positive.
- 32 youths trained in this quarter in the first ILKS intake
- 30 youths in the first ILPS intake
- training took place at local venues around Sasamuqa village, South Choiseul
- evaluations from courses were positive
- training was done by local resource people.
Demand is very high for further training courses in Choiseul although this will not occur under this project as there will be only one intake in each livelihood module in Choiseul.
Small business workshop successful
A training-of-trainers course in small business skills and management, facilitated by Bougainvillean women trainers from the NGO, Bougainville Interchurch Women’s Forum, was conducted in Sasamuqa for 14 youths from Malaita and Choiseul:
- the training was an outstanding success
- the trainers will now run short workshops over the final quarter of the project for youths participating in the program on Malaita and Choiseul .
Revolving fund to reward initiative
Agreements are being made with local partner groups for construction of farmer ‘tool shops’ where tools will be sold at subsidised prices to young farmers and to other farmers who meet certain requirements.
KGA will establish a revolving fund from proceeds of the sales of tools to buy more.
The concept is one of ‘rewarding willingness’:
- it has been developed in close consultation with farmers in the project area
- is based on successful models elsewhere in Melanesia.
Further donor subsidies will be sought beyond the end of this project and after the program has been evaluated.
Restoration of degraded agricultural land through farmer field trials
A youth led team will review the progress of 20 youths trained in agroforestry in Malaita in the next quarter:
- this will assess how many of these youths have adopted legume trees in alley cropping systems to improve soil fertility
- alley cropping, species selection and numbers of timber trees was promoted in the training program
- to assess how many youths are using animal manure on their farms; this is a more sustainable method of improving soil fertility than using synthetic fertilizers or traditional burning practices.
In Choiseul Province, the first intake for agroforestry training will take place in the last week of February 2004:
- the intake will total of 30 youths
- training will be facilitated by Myknee Sirikolo Qusa from Poitete Forestry Training School of SICHE.
The SLRYP director:
- participated in a number of meetings with Forestry Department staff
- an AusAID review of the AusAID forestry project.
KGA inputs concerned reforestation and, in particular, concerns over landuse planning and the overemphasis on growing teak. This could be complemented with more promotion of the planting of multiple purpose local species.
Appropriate social structures for livelihood support
Family focus critical
- family agreements continue to form the cornerstone of youth applications to join the training program
- family support is proving critical to success
- a family and youth forum is planned in the final quarter of the project to review the family focus of the program and learn how it can be improved and strengthened
- results to date have been very positive, with families showing strong support for youths and even replacing youths when other obstacles have prevented them from focussing on the planned livelihood.
Experts from Community Based Health Care and ParuParu Education Development Centre (Bougainville) in Papua New Guinea visited SLRYP project youths and staff in Central Malaita and informally reviewed the project methodology.
Their feedback was positive and their awareness meetings in communities have strengthened community support and understanding that similar efforts are occurring elsewhere in Melanesia.
Organisational capacity building
Led by the chairman Laurence Aldo, Baetolau Farmers Network committee members have produced the first draft of a constitution that will be presented to members early in 2004 for a first review. It is expected a constitution will be adopted by the end of the project and an application placed with the Registrar of Charitable Trusts.
In other developments:
- project coordinators are being trained and supported through regular visits by KGA staff
- the project manager (Roselyn Kabu Maemouri) participated in a short course on NGO Management and Leadership at International Institute of Rural Reconstruction in the Philippines in January 2004
- discussions were held with farmer leaders from Makira and Western provinces concerning the potential expansion of the project to their province in 2004 in a planned second phase of the project
- a group of youths have been trained as trainers in small business management, following the course in Choiseul in November; they will begin to train youths from January 2004 in Malaita and on Choiseul in March
- the KGA ILKS farm and agroforest nursery at Burns Creek, Honiara, continues to operate as a self-sustaining small businesses, demonstrating the viability of the model promoted by KGA and providing a practical training venue.
Use of the participatory extension methodology
Iro Ramoi, SLRYP Malaita project coordinator, attended a two week training-of-trainers course run by KGA at St Martins Rural Training Centre in Guadalcanal.
Iro also joined participatory rural appraisal activities and training conducted as part of a separate KGA project known as ‘Linking Farmers to Crop Protection Networks’.
Youths are now more involved in project monitoring and are better represented on the project steering committees.
Project experience documentation
- a young woman from Choiseul has completed a video production training attachment with KGA.; she will return to Choiseul to produce a video of her experiences in the youth livelihood project in her community and train other youths to use the camera to record their own stories
- Ben Okali is producing a video about Gnali nut production in his home village of Silolo, North Malaita; this will be the first youth-produced video of the project; Ben will start editing at the end of January 2004
- after Ben completed his video editing, a young woman from Choiseul will produce a second video on livelihoods
- Russ Grayson and Fiona Campbell from TerraCircle/ PacificEdge Media in Sydney spent three weeks in the Solomon Islands in November/ December facilitating meetings, focus group discussions and conducting farm visits to collect information for farmers manuals on ILPS and agroforestry; a contract has been signed with TerraCircle/ PacificEdge Media to produce and print the manuals for the SLRYP project.