The Importance of Community-led Development Projects

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”

Community-led development projects empower locals to lift themselves out of poverty, by allowing members to create and achieve locally owned visions and goals, with the starting help of charities like COCO who equip families with the skills and knowledge they need to lift themselves and the rest of their communities out of poverty. These projects are particularly important in low-income countries, such as Tanzania, where basic infrastructure and public services are either limited or non-existent; a fundamental requirement for sustainable development and growth. Hence, many people find themselves entangled in a poverty trap from which they cannot escape.

Extensive field experience shows that the journey out of poverty begins in communities, and that aid strategies should be designed from the community upwards. The United Nations believes that community-led projects are at the forefront of solving their sustainable development goals. COCO is working to ensure inclusive and equitable education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, one of the key UN sustainable development goals.

One such beneficiary of community-led projects has been the beautiful village of Litisha in Tanzania, which, since receiving sustainable agriculture training from COCO alongside Hoja Project in 2011, has built and established its own nursery, containing 57 students (as of August 2017), which they now hope to expand into a primary school. An internal COCO study into sustainable agriculture training has found that average household income increases by 284% as a result of the training. From this training, parents decided to pool their increased income to build a classroom to house the nursery and to pay a teacher from the community.

The community-built nursery is owned and run by the community group Kimamba CBO, containing 18 members

The organisation is now using its own initiatives to generate further income to sustain and expand the nursery. Further schemes have involved keeping bee hives in a sustainable manner without smoking them and table banking in which they lend small amounts to community members who pay back with some interest that covers admin and provides income for the group. This has funded the construction of a well for water access to the nursery and the creation of football and netball fields. COCO remains on hand to support the community, but the community is pioneering its own development.

Head of Kimamba group, Julianna, is chairperson of Kimamba CBO and is responsible for overseeing all of the projects in the group, including running the nursery, the community farm, beekeeping and small loans.