To some, it is seen as an insignificant activity, and yet to others it is taken to be a cheap undertaking. But experience shows that this is the most herculean task when it comes to people’s development.
Such experience is borne by Base for Education Dissemination (BED), a voluntary, non-governmental, non-political, non-religious and non-profit sharing organisation which has encountered a number of tests in various regions where it has conducted training with the Foundation for Civil Societies (FCS) as its assisting partner organisation.
Founded in 2001 in Mbeya and registered in 2002 under the Societies Ordinance of 1954, BED has managed to extend community based services by establishing other offices in Kigoma, Katavi and Mwanza, says its executive director, Nicas Nibengo when tracing the establishment of the organisation.
It first rented an office which has eventually become the headquarters of the organisation in Mwanza in 2004, but still remains rented.
Believing in dignity, transparency, protection of human life and financial value, the organisation has hinged its focus on capacity building programmes in the course of filling the gaps left by other organisations in fostering societal development.
Among other activities, the organisation has been conducting outreach programmes so as to be able to reach many people in the community. Such activities include capacity building to women traders in Mwanjelwa Market, Mbeya Region and good governance awareness and capacity building in public funds management with government authorities and other stakeholders at community levels in Mwanza and Geita regions.
According to Zeitun Rashid, a programme officer with the education dissemination organisation, they began to work with FCS in 2009 to 2011 through capacity building to the Local Government authorities and Civil Societies Organisations in a project that was funded by the Foundation. This project targeted the Ward Development Committees.
But that was only the start. In October 2016, she said, the organisation had another engagement with FCS through a funded implementation of capacity building in public funds management to the Local Government authorities. The project was about budget analysis, procurement, contract management and CAG report analysis. This time round the project targeted the district councilors and directors.
And what has been the output during this second encounter?
According to the executive director in the 2009-2011 project, they managed to offer training to 24 Ward Development Committees in 24 wards whereby 25 members were reached in each ward, making the number of people trained 600.
“During the same training, 58 village chairmen were also involved in four villages in Geita, Ilemela, Nyamagana, Sengerema and Misungwi districts,” he says.
Back to the October 2016 project with FCS, the executive director says that BED managed to reach 52 people, that is, the 32 councilors and 20 other people in the task force through workshops conducting.
What is specific about the three days’ capacity building workshop to district councilors and other stakeholders according to the Councilor of Mkuyuni in Mwanza Region, Donatha Gapi is that BED was seen as one of the most efficient training organisations in the region in that it managed to improve the awareness of the people including the district councilors and Ward Development Committees through their implementation of various programmes especially in public funds management capacity building to Local Government authorities funded by the FCS.
She is not alone, Mwanza Municipal Council internal auditor Kenneth Mwaitete also concurs that the organisation puts more emphasis on the importance of involving the community in the development programmes of government authorities.
Joseph Kashushura, the economist with the Mwanza Municipal Council says; “the training was very important for our district councilors to impart knowledge to them in various issues especially good governance and public funds management.”
He further states that “the BED activities are somewhat perfect” as they have truly managed to raise the awareness among the councilors in the management of development activities.
Hammering the nail home, BED executive director Nicas adds that the organisation has managed to foster the position of women representation in the leadership and governance through its trainings and meetings.
In line with that, he says, BED has managed to promote access of water supply, better health and educational services such as ‘pay school fees’ and ‘offer computer and secretarial services’ to vulnerable children, especially girls who are victims of commercial sex, who they come across in the course of implementing the project with FCS.
One of the child victims, who did not want her name to be divulged, confirmed that she started computer training in microcomputer applications with BED in 2016 and the organisation truly empowered her with the knowledge against sexual abuse and her child rights.
But, as it is normally said, in every activity, there are challenges. Throughout its implementation of the projects, BED has encountered a number of challenges.
The organisation’s accountant, Anastazia Bernard explaining what BED has bumped into says financial shortage is the key problem hindering it to serve the community at a greater multitude.
Nicas, BED executive director chipping in says that poor cooperation from the councilors has been one of the challenges.
For instance, it took them two weeks to negotiate about conducting the three days’ work on November 8, 9 and 10 with the district councilors without success.
Commenting on the good relations between BED and FCS, Nicas states: “I thank FCS very much for their financial and other support to our organisation. It has been an honor working with them as they foster the provision of services to serve the community.”
He hastened to add that FCS should not give up empowering the Civil Society Organisations, but should strengthen its activities for the CSOs to obtain aid for the welfare of the community.
As for the way forward, the executive director of BED Nicas says it is still necessary for FCS to continue training CSOs in matters pertaining to accounts management, accountability and financial management more frequently.
“Also it would be an honor if the FCS would share its strategic plan with the CSOs,” he observes.
BED intends to continue training the councilors and the Ward Development Committees in other districts and sees itself to be more vibrant with the ability to perceive the change as a result of advocacy and capacity building and that it would be able to reach thousands of people in Tanzania.