THE LAST MILE
Raising The Village partners with villages in remote and rural areas of Uganda. Reaching communities often means dangerous travel through makeshift roads and grueling treks through mountains on foot. With little to no access to electricity, water, or communications in areas of where we work, programs rely on the ingenuity of our team. A lack of infrastructure has made it challenging for traditional models of development to reach these communities due to cost and logistics, resulting in the exclusion of villages from participating and a lack of socio-economic development.
Villages consist of smallholder subsistence farmers and their families which rely on agriculture to survive. The majority of community members are under the age of 30 and consist mostly of young adults and children, with vulnerable populations of orphans and indigenous peoples. While community members lack a primary education or basic skills of literacy and numeracy, communities do bring enthusiasm, energy, and cooperation towards building solutions which work for them.
High levels of extreme poverty are exacerbated by limited access to water, health, and education. Overpopulation, land stress and a lack of opportunities make life hard, fostering social issues including alcoholism and early marriage. Villages face multiple barriers to overcoming poverty, which makes it challenging for a single-intervention or targeted group program to successfully create a lasting and sustainable impact.
Raising The Village believes partnering with communities living in harsh environments and among the most affected by extreme poverty, creates the greatest opportunity in finding an effective approach to end extreme poverty across sub-Saharan Africa. Serving as a catalyst for public and civic action, Raising The Village aims to graduate entire communities into the ‘base of the economic period and break out of extreme poverty within 24-months by increasing household incomes and accelerate the socio-economic development of the village and surrounding region.
Our 3-step Activity Approach:
(in fancy circles):
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RTV aims to empower communities through the sequential introduction of community-driven programming which establishes the critical components of infrastructure, training, and inputs necessary to enable village families to participate in value-chain activities. At a macro level, RTV’s program establishes a sustained socio-economic development allowing villages to actively engage in the local and global economy, as a means to end extreme poverty.
Critical programming consists of a focus on the following components:
- Livelihoods – Food Security, Income, Assets, and Access to Credit
- Gender – Women’s Participation in Leadership and Access
- Environmental and Productivity – Conservation and Sustainability
- Access to Basic Infrastructure and Services – Health, Water, Education
- Community Socio-Economic Development – Vulnerable Populations, Regional Cooperation
RTV focuses on last-mile populations at the lowest development entry point with criteria including distance and travel time to access basic services, average village household incomes less than $0.25 per day, and Progress Out of Poverty Index (PPI) village scores higher than 25%.
As existing development programs require higher development entry points, the RTV methodology focuses on building the necessary socio-economic foundations to empower communities and enable their participation in such programs and enable communities to enter the base of the economic pyramid.
Programmatic interventions are sequenced to address immediate-term needs which allow for a level of stability to proceed. Humanitarian aid and recovery stages at times will overlap with RTV’s area of work as entry points coincide. The RTV approach can be further leveraged to support communities at higher stages of development by providing a guiding framework for sustainable community-driven development.
The RTV CLUSTER APPROACH
Programs engage entire regional populations, meaning the instead of selectively engaging communities within a region, every community is given the opportunity to participate. This creates wholesale coverage of an area and promotes a sustained development through a ‘big push’. Last-mile communities have developed economic and social relationships with neighboring communities, sharing geographic proximity and infrastructure such as wells, roads, and markets. The cluster model leverages these existing relationships into cluster groups with an average size of 5 villages and a shared total population of 5,000 individuals.
The aim of the RTV Cluster Model is to enhance the success achieved at villages with direct interventions by magnifying the residual impact to surrounding communities through shared programming, simplified logistics, and larger cooperatives resulting in fewer resources needed with a higher rate of impact. With the careful selection and development of village clusters, a regional implementation strategy dramatically impacts the lives of large populations through rapid economic development through the aggregation of village nodes to create greater agricultural yields, inter-village cooperation, and availability of goods to market. The Cluster Model allows for the development of an area with a population of 20,000 people with a 5-person implementation team within a 12-month timeframe.
SCALE + REPLICATION
While the impact for direct beneficiaries has been a resounding success, the potential for change at a regional level drives the need to amplify the model. The outcomes are represented by a scalable low-cost model of change which can dramatically eliminate extreme poverty within the Sub-saharan and global context by effectively engaging household communities into the Base of the Pyramid through sustainable means of development. The approach can be adopted by both government and non-governmental institutions in leveraging existing resources and knowledge, while driving grassroots level participation and ownership at all levels of community. Currently, RTV is working closely with the Government of Uganda to implement the RTV Village Cluster Model nationally
The RTV methodology grounds itself in community-driven design with a strong belief that in order for programs to achieve widespread adoption and sustainable operation, they need to be conceived and designed by the community themselves. We believe ‘Community Driven Development’ requires the active engagement at the micro, meso, and macro levels of community. While design components are driven at a grassroots village level, ownership and support needs to hold at all levels of community to achieve sustainability. As a result, we work closely at all levels of government to ensure the alignment of development priorities. At the programmatic level, local and regional government will identify areas where they are unable to provide services and introduce RTV to villages with the highest poverty rates in these areas.
VILLAGE SELECTION AND COLLABORATIVE SPACE
Raising The Village conducts analysis of a region at the sub-county level with communities evaluated according to household income, general demographic surveys, and PPI Indices. Alongside these components, RTV’s Social Leadership Matrix takes existing community leadership, village networks, geophysical properties and infrastructure (e.g. proximity to water sources and markets) into account in assessments.
At the village level, we facilitate a series of prioritization and goal-setting exercises which focus on engaging community members and marginalized segments of the populations within the community to create an inclusive and collaborative project design. Engagement at both the community-wide and the focus group levels ensures that women, youths (young adults ranging from the ages of 18-30), orphans and vulnerable children, and indigenous populations are represented and given opportunity to participate in programs specifically tailored to their priorities and goals.
Based on the prioritizations and input from all actors in the village, including those at local government levels, an initial design is crafted. The design is reviewed by the community and further updated to reflect feedback and changes. Following community approval, the project is scheduled for implementation.
PARTICIPATORY IMPLEMENTATION APPROACH
The multi-intervention roll-out is classified into three phases: Secure, Improve and Sustain. While phases can overlap, the sequencing of interventions is critical to the success of the project. Implementations are managed by RTV project officers, while components of the programming engage technical officers from District level government. This allows RTV to leverage technical skills in specific issue areas in the region while engaging local government in programming and accessing a broad knowledge and expertise base.
ADDRESSING SCARCITY BARRIERS
Applying the perspective “if you are hungry, thirsty, or sick, you are less likely to have the capacity to learn,” the RTV approach focuses on the removal of scarcity barriers, which impede community capacity to learn and adopt new practices and techniques. Primarily, these activities focus on Access to Health, Water, and Nutrition. These programs are essential to ensuring a community is in the position to learn, plan and grow. Without these foundational initiatives, the benefits of other programs are muted. Programs frequently identified by community members include the protection of water springs, Health Center outreaches, and short-term crops such as ‘greens’ and fruits.
LIVELIHOODS, DIVERSIFIED INCOME, ASSETS AND ACCESS TO CREDIT
Most villages we partner with lack the resources and knowledge to move beyond subsistence farming. By introducing cost-effective agricultural methods, environmental conservation, crops which vary in seasonality and maturity, breeding livestock, and co-operative farming groups, communities are able to broaden income potential and build a social safety net. Contributions and savings to specific projects are determined by community members to ensure the long-term viability of projects through available funding. Based on operating thresholds, savings surpluses are leveraged through the Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs). These VSLAs operate across multiple programs enabling greater access to affordable credit for village members and vulnerable groups, eliminating the impact of potential shocks to the household, and generating opportunities for investment.
We specifically target income opportunities for women, youths, and OVCs (orphans and vulnerable children). All these initiatives allow communities to progress beyond survival and lay the foundation for future growth.
GENDER, CIVIC LEADERSHIP, AND SUSTAINED DEVELOPMENT
Training in the areas of leadership, financial literacy, and health management are conducted so as to provide the villagers with the knowledge and resources they need to sustain the projects, facilitate civic participation and the capacity to organize¬ – all of which are essential to strengthening the social fabric of a community.
The formation of Operations and Management groups are fundamental to programs and are leveraged to manage water sources, livestock programs, and other community initiatives. As a result, core demographics in the community, including women, youths, and OVCs, are engaged and empowered in leadership positions of targeted projects making ways for broad civic participation and greater dialogue.
By the completion of the implementation period, programs are expected to generate dramatic impacts, triggering continued growth in future years. The RTV team continues to provide additional training, coaching, monitoring and evaluation of project impacts on a monthly basis over the subsequent 18 months to ensure sustainability. Counsel to community challenges is also provided over this time before transitioning to quarterly and then annual visits.
RTV measures program effectiveness through a hierarchical array of progress indicators, while emphasizing community achievement according to their own goals, and pathways out of poverty.
Data is collected through regularly scheduled monitoring and evaluation reporting cycles along with annual household surveys.
Surveys apply a ‘1 in 3’ methodology and include the collection of baseline and control group information to validate outcomes and document the influence of outside variables. RTV applies a dashboard approach to measurement through the collection of uni-dimensional cardinal and ordinal indicators, applying these as key markers of program effectiveness within the RTV Impact Framework. Because of RTV’s holistic approach to development, the dashboard enables the measurement of a wide range of value chain components. RTV applies the use of joint and disjoint base population measurements to ensure programming positively affects both vulnerable populations and the community at large in its design and impact.
RTV’s hierarchical view of programming is reflected in the dashboard. Scarcity barriers are viewed as fundamental to the achievement of community socio-economic and measured as outputs. However, household incomes and assets and access are viewed as the primary drivers of success.
Recognizing the multi-dimensionality aspects of poverty, RTV applies the Progress Out of Poverty Index (PPI) to mitigate the impact of marginal measure in evaluations and ensures the effectiveness of the organization’s holistic development methodology. The adoption of the ‘Random Forest’ approach and its application within a fuzzy logic framework ensures that household perceptions and development milestones are captured at the village and household level
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