Africa Book Development Organisation (ABDO) believes that meaningful and sustainable development can only happen where communities are capacitated to take a leading role in projects and programs intended to improve their livelihoods. The organisation has continued to explore and perfect strategies and processes to educate and empower the communities.
Local leadership orientation
Communities need to fully understand and institutionalise the projects in their area. ABDO’s starting point is the identification of main stakeholders in each community. These include influential males and females, local and traditional leaders, Government departments including local authorities and locally based Community Based Organisations. Orientation in the form of meeting or workshops is carried out with males and females from these institutions covering the introduction to the projects, participatory methodologies in development intervention and expected outcomes from the projects as well as roles and responsibilities of various actors. This ensures ownership of the project by the locals from the onset.
Community awareness and sensitization
Public campaigns and marches focusing on agreed themes have exposed pertinent issues and problems to the communities and, through public discussions, they are able to analyse the issues and challenges at hand. These have included prevalence of child rape and gender based violence, environmental issues, sexuality and reproductive health issues, discrimination of women on land distribution, ownership and control. The root causes to the problems and challenges are packaged and appropriate strategies formulated for community action and for the attention of other local stakeholders.
Campaign on the importance of girl child education in Chakari
One example is disposal of litter which was posing a health hazard at Tsholotsho business centre and the wanton cutting down of trees to erect fences at homesteads.
A campaign involving the Council, Government departments, Environmental Management Authority was carried out in Tsholotsho. This involved cleaning of the business centre by removing litter, planting of trees at the centre and donation of trees to various institutions and to traditional leaders.
Chief Executive Officer for Tsholotsho Rural District Council planting a tree on behalf of the Matabeleland North Resident Minister during the Environmental campaign
Capacitating of Establishment local structures
The organisation strengthens established local structures from identified key actors through leadership and project management training. This equips the leaders with knowledge and skills to better manage the project and ensures project sustainability.
Gokwe North Local Resource Pool Executive Committee discussing purchase of Agricultural inputs for their members.
Community Based Workshops
ABDO has run workshops for the general community covering technical skills training and specific topics that are of interest to the community.
During group discussions, at these workshops issues are raised some of which have translated into practical solutions and projects such as:
Girl child education and orphans care where communities have worked with ABDO to identify orphaned children and girls who have been affected by poverty to pursue their education. Various form of assistance have been given to them to advance their education ambitions. Local study circle groups have also taken the initiative to pool their resource together to adopt and support the needy orphans
Some of the beneficiaries of the orphan care project
Reproductive and sexual health: Due to poverty and high unemployment, cases of early child marriages, abuse of young girls are prevalent where ABDO operates. The organisation engages the adolescents and influential leaders to discuss retrogressive cultural and traditional practices, linking these to legal provisions. High on the agenda is rape of school going girls by evasive gold panners, school teachers, known relatives and sugar daddies. The effect of ABDO community engagement is that cases of rape and marriages of under age children that were kept secret are brought to the public and law enforcement agents who attend some of the workshops are tasked to take the necessary action to bring perpetrators to book.
Economic Empowerment The organisation encourages the communities to look closely at the natural resources available and to make the best use of these for both farm and non-farm activities. Local communities through study circles and local resource pools sharpen their skills through collective learning efforts and engaging in lobby and advocacy activities.
Micro-economic projects such as peanut butter making, poultry keeping, tree growing, nutrition gardens, candle making etc. are done with the thrust placed on learning and sharing of knowledge and experiences than doing the project itself.