Our Food for a better future project ended in December 2013. Thank you so much for your support – here’s Karina's final report on her work with the communities of Dajabón, Partido, Restauración, Loma de Cabrera, and Loma de Guano in the northern border of the Dominican Republic.
In these three years of cooperation, I consider that the goal of transferring knowledge and at the same time planning and delivering activities has been successfully achieved. In this respect, the open attitude, proactive approach and desire to learn of my counterpart has been a joy – alongside the desire to support vulnerable families to whom we are committed in the first place.
My time in the Dominican Republic has taught me a lot at every level. At the professional level, I improved my skills in the areas I believed were necessary to develop good work, such as risk management, promotion of agricultural cooperatives, evaluation and monitoring of project results, and learning Creole!
On a personal level, I have learned that tolerance, and taking things more slowly with a long term perspective, help to get the results you expect and even more.
I've learned that when you leave your country and you identify yourself so much with people, and you see that reality and the problems are so similar here and there, you understand that the borders marked by nationality are getting less. I can say with certainty we are all one world, though at some point life requires us to go back to our roots.
In sum, I am very satisfied with the work that myself, the team of Solidaridad Fronteriza, and Progressio, have developed. Sure there will always be things you need to keep doing and others that can be improved, but overall I think we met the expectations of everyone involved, and that everything was always focused on the development and empowerment of the most vulnerable families we worked with.
Final activities before ending the project:
- Together with my counterpart Rosa Martinez (from Solidaridad Fronteriza), I worked with the mothers’ centers to identify best practice and lessons learned from our shared experience of working on food and nutrition security. The aim was to ensure that there is continued commitment to deliver the training program on food and nutrition security to high risk families. One aspect to highlight in this process is the personal development and self-esteem achieved among our participants. This not only has an impact on better access to food (produced by themselves), but their confidence has increased, which makes it easier for them to interact with members of their community and at the same time to obtain recognition of the community as community leaders in the area of food security.
- The groups’ participation has been steady and very active during this process. The participants and the organizations that support them (Union of Mother Centers in Loma de Cabrera, Union of Neighborhood Groups) continued contributing, assuming the cost of food, transport for participants to the place of training, space rent, etc, so that the workshops could be implemented. Likewise, Solidaridad Fronteriza assured the presence of the training team and materials in each of the scheduled workshops.
- At the end of last year trained food security promoters agreed to convene people from other communities that until now had not been integrated into the training sessions. That means that this year the team of Solidaridad Fronteriza will begin to support the multiplication of knowledge and skills through the group of promoters with new groups in areas of Dajabón, Loma de Cabrera, Partido and Cruz Cabrera.
- We also finalized the training modules with migrants and host communities of the Ranchadero area, supported by the Association of Migrant Workers of the Northwest (ASOMILIN). Although the theoretical part of the course has been implemented successfully, we still have difficulties implementing the demonstration modules for each course, and a community group is opposed to the construction of family gardens and hen houses with migrant families. In order to address this difficulty, we are in a process of reconciliation and dialogue with the community.
- I also continued to provide support for the communication and advocacy activities to inform and influence public opinion through TV and radio programs, with participation of trained food security promoters. The TV program is broadcast on Sundays with very good audience levels. This activity has significantly contributed to the positioning of Solidaridad Fronteriza as an institution that works on the issue of food and nutrition security. This action not only sensitizes the population, but it gives our promoters self-confidence and reaffirms the recognition and trust of the people in them, in their different communities.
- At the end of the year we conducted a participatory evaluation of the work of the promoters of the three areas, Partido, Loma de Cabrera and Cruz de Cabrera. One of the findings was that all groups of promoters commit to multiply the learning among their communities. We also supported the groups of promoters and their respective associations to design Annual Work Plans, which reflect all the activities of the promoters, including periodic training, multiplication of learning in their communities, community actions and awareness campaigns on the issue that they deem necessary for their community, etc. This annual work plan helps them to organize their time and commitments during the year, and also enables them to assess the impact of their activities on their community.
- We also carried out a last monitoring visit related to the family gardens and chickens and their contribution to a balanced family diet. Families in the communities of Partido, Loma de Cabrera, Cruz de Cabrera y Ranchadero, have been visited. We observed with great satisfaction that the productive activities were in further progress and have increased even more. Families that were not part of the project learned from their neighbors and the simple models of production that are easy to implement using local materials (sticks for fencing gardens, cane leaves for the roof of the chicken coops, etc.) mean there are already families multiplying this experience by themselves.
- The monitoring confirmed the value of families making a signed commitment from the beginning of the project. In fact, these commitments have allowed us to even expand the project target. For example, all families who have benefited from modules for chicken raising are committed to returning a module (10 hens) to another family, identified by themselves as a vulnerable family – within the requirement that they should not be related to them, which ensures the selected family really is in need. They also have the responsibility of following-up and supporting the new beneficiary family. This shared ownership and responsibility helps ensure sustainability. As a conclusion, of the 72 modules implemented hopefully later this year we can count on about 144 modules running, reaching successively 216 and so on.
- 99% of the promoters said that their family diet had improved markedly in terms of quality, quantity and balance. This has been achieved through making emphasis on training in production and consumption patterns and food hygiene at the same time. Furthermore, 70% of families said that their production has increased compared with what it was when we started. This has meant not only secure access to food but also in terms of income, because they are producing for themselves what they previously had to buy, and because they are producing a surplus for sale, which allows them to meet other needs such as education, better housing, clothing, etc.
Thank you for your support for this project – we could not have done it without your help. Progressio has similar projects planned for the northern border area in 2014, so please continue to support our work with poor and marginalised people and communities – thank you!
Photos (from top):
1) Karina Cuba with farmer Elena Tusen
2) Karina with Amada Bernal and Quisqueya Proud-Homme, members of the Mothers Club in Partido, Dominican Republic
All photos © Fran Afonso/Progressio