The Ngong Project steering committee which brings together all the stakeholders involved in the implementation of the project had a meeting which took place on the 16th of April 2016 at Reignite head office in Bambui Cameroon. A brief question and answer session concerning issues from the reading of the minutes of the last meeting preceded the key presentations which were programmed for the first part.
The first of three presentations focused on feedback from the work in the UK by our Project Manager, Teresa De Sousa. She explained to the committee that shortly after arriving in Cameroon in January 2016, she travelled to the UK during the months of February and March to carry out a two months mission. The main areas of work included: meeting the Big Lottery Fund, meeting the UK Trustees, fundraising campaign, meeting with volunteers, producing project reports and linking R.A.D UK and R.A.D Cameroon.
Big Lottery Fund
Concerning the meeting with Big Lottery Fund, she expressed the satisfaction of the donor with regards to the progress of the project and the approval of proposed changes to the project which involved using the funds meant for the purchase of a project vehicle to provide transportation for beneficiaries amongst others.
However, participants were made to understand that the Big Lottery is in the process of changing their strategy for Africa and it was good to look at the possibility of talking to other funding agencies such a Concern Universal another UK charity operating in Cameroon.
New Trustees, Treasure & Fundraiser
The main aim of the meeting with the Trustees was to discuss a fundraising strategy and major difficulties were identified with proposed solutions.
A new treasurer and a fundraiser were introduced as new Trustees and are going to be assisting Reignite UK while the Trustees expressed satisfaction with the work in Cameroon. Furthermore, she informed committee members about the Reignite Cameroon advisory whose members and activities would soon be disclosed.
Participants were also briefed on the amounts realized since the beginning of the fundraising campaign which was £4500 (about 3700,000 CFA) of the £5000 target.
The second presentation was a review of quarter 3 report (December, January and February) by our Project Communications and Training Officers. The communications officer Bayee Tanyitiku explained the strategies used by the team for the registration of beneficiaries and an overview of the attendance recorded.
It was remarked that there was fluctuating attendance by beneficiaries and committee members were duly informed about the effects of a fluctuating attendance on the project activities. There was an open discussion about the reasons for this fluctuating attendance with the spread of wrong information, other commitments of beneficiaries and trainers amongst the key reasons.
Committee members were advised to better sensitize and inform the beneficiaries and that the problem concerning the other commitments of beneficiaries and trainers had been given proper attention. The training officer Sidney Tche highlighted on the training topics taught so far and it was also disclosed that the topics taught were line with the activities of the farming season.
The last presentation was done by our Finance Officer Farlene Kwalar and she elaborated on the budget spent so far including the changes approved by the Big Lottery Fund. The budget spent so far on the project amounts to £65085 (55322.250 CFA).
Farlene also announced the purchase of equipment for food processors with animal feed, medications and vaccinations for livestock breeders which concluded the first part of the project steering committee meeting.
The second part of the meeting was an open forum on Project Issues moderated by Teresa De Sousa and Mme Ache Theresia. The issues involved were: absenteeism, lack of youths and female trainers and other stakeholders not from Bambui.
As earlier mentioned, committee members resolved to better sensitize beneficiaries, help beneficiaries who had fluctuating attendance. The problem of lack of youths was a major pre-occupation during this forum with the age range been a point of disagreement. The project manager explained that the age range for the donor was 15-25 meanwhile in Cameroon it can be high as 32.
It was resolved that the project team had to carry out sensitization in nearby schools and look at the possibility of linking the curriculum taught in agriculture in these schools with that of the project.
In line with the lack of female trainers, the project manager explained that Reignite is committed to ensuring gender balance in all areas of operations. She cited the example of female staff within the project team and that the issue would be properly looked in to given that during the early stages of the training female trainers were present.
Concerning other stakeholders who were not from Bambui, it was disclosed that the project had been written exclusively for indigenes of the Bambui community who were the direct beneficiaries hence the name’ The Ngong Project-Training the Bambui Farmers of Tomorrow’ and so all beneficiaries had to show proof belonging to the Bambui community to take part in the training.
Trading & Funds
There were also discussions on participation in an international trade fair, an opening of markets for farm products, use of the microfinance fund and evaluation of the project.
Committee members agreed that it was beneficial to start with opening avenues for sales of farmers produce in a local market given the presence of the University of Bamenda and National Polytechnic Bambui with about 20,000 students. The project team was tasked with the responsibility of opening up a local shop for farmers produce and looking for sales agents.
They also agreed on using the TWO Million Francs CFA meant for the creation of a microfinance or a ‘Njangi and NGONG Fund’ to finance farmers ventures through an open competition for financing for prospective projects.
The evaluation of the project focused on the successes and challenges. Overall, the project had a positive impact on the farmers and agricultural practices with many beneficiaries making strides in different sectors of agricultural production. The NGONG Project steering committee meeting ended with a call by our Project Manager about the need for all hands to be on deck to ensure that the project goals and targets are achieved.