| Pastoral associations in Chad |
The main conclusions which can be drawn from this report can be categorised under five headings:
A Pastoral Associations
B The Ishtirak project's preliminary phase
C The Ishtirak project's approach
D The Ishtirak project's revolving fund scheme and the activities undertaken by the Pastoral Associations within the project
E The Para-vet programme.
A PASTORAL ASSOCIATIONS
1 There is no unique PA model and there is nothing magic about ideal size. The most important approach is that of constant dialogue with the community because, clearly, traditional structures have also their limitations. Suggestions should be given as to how traditional structures can develop to be more adapted to present problems and requirements. Also integration of traditional structures and administrative structures is important.
2 In any case, introducing completely new structures should be avoided, because they have mechanisms that are unfamiliar to the people concerned. If new structures were introduced, people might accept the new structures and organise themselves accordingly for a couple of years only in order to have access to certain commodities. In the long run it is doubtful whether these new organisations will survive.
3 A question arises in considering gender issues and pastoral associations, as women often have their own informal structures. This demands careful research and these structures can then be the basis for independent pastoral associations of women.
4 It can be concluded from the experience gained from the Ishtirak project that it is helpful to be less formal about the organisational build-up of the PAs as it only complicates the discussions with the PAs, as they might give information just to satisfy the project whilst in reality they do it their own way. If there is an open discussion about the way they organise their PA, or want to organise it, the project can assist them in finding the pitfalls and suggest improvements if necessary. The experience of an open approach with the women is so far very encouraging and should be slowly introduced in the work with the men's PAs.
5 In fact the main guideline when working with PAs should be to investigate if the assistance of the project benefits all group members and if all group members are involved in the decisionmaking process. When group objectives and responsibilities are in this way left with the PAs, the project will move slowly from an initial target group/sectorial approach towards a regional development approach with demands for improved drinking water, health programmers, etc. This is exactly what is happening within the Ishtirak project now that it is moving away from the earlier strictly-defined approach towards an open approach with the emphasis on listening to the groups and designing with them a project that might meet their priorities.
6 Pastoral Associations should become local NGO's or be implemented through local NGO's from the beginning. Government institutions should limit their activities to sectorial development and not be involved in institutional development at grassroots level but only facilitate and legalise organisational structures. This scenario is still a long way ahead for the Ishtirak project.
7 A very important benefit of the creation of PAs in the Ishtirak project is that they provide the institutional framework to improve the communication between the herders and the veterinary service. At the moment the project still acts as an intermediary structure between the two but over time, especially once the unions of PAs are established, it is that the project could pull out. A positive attitude from the Ministry of Livestock and its employees towards PAs and paravets has been and will remain indispensable in order to enact and execute the necessary measures, like recognition of PAs and pare-vets, price agreements for veterinary drugs, training of government personnel, etc.
B THE PROJECTS PRELIMINARY PHASE
8 It can be concluded that the original planning underestimated the time and manpower needed to implement the suggested approach especially at grassroots level. If institutions are to develop their own way of working almost unlimited time is required.
9 More thought should have been given to the composition of the project team in terms of necessary expertise and experience in order to implement the project plan with its objectives and chosen approach. The lack of possibilities in Chad for informal or formal training of project staff should also have been taken into account in the project's design in terms of timetables but also in terms of provision for formal and informal training of staff.
10 The preliminary survey should have included the role of women in the agro pastoralist production system and the role of traditional credit and savings systems.
11 The preliminary survey should have given more attention to the complex social relations of the agropastoralists with the agriculturalists in the area and with the transhumant pastoralists.
12 More attention should have been given to the collaborating NGO, SECADEV, in terms of organisational structures, capacity to take over the project, training facilities, etc.
13 The initial number of PAs should have been limited to 25 instead of 50 given the capacities and experience of the project team and so that the chosen approach could be tested more carefully.
C THE PROJECTS APPROACH AND OBJECTIVES
14 The target group/sectorial approach has many disadvantages but is a very good starting point in order to make the best use of the limited capacities of a project team. But the Ishtirak experience shows that it is very important for a project and a project team to start working as soon as possible, on a limited scale, in order to gain the confidence of the population and to obtain the necessary experience and knowledge. Long preliminary research periods are no solution in finding answers for all the questions and problems - they only add more question marks. Ishtirak has learned that the target group/sectorial approach can slowly develop into a more regional development approach, in collaboration with other projects and Ministries.
15 On-going research and surveys after a short preliminary survey of several months have proved to be very useful, not only in gathering more information but also in training and consolidating the project team. The condition is that the research and surveys are designed and carried out by the project staff themselves.. The resulting reports may not be scientifically the most relevant ones, but they are very important tools for the day-to-day running of the project. Again, the project team needs a minium of training and follow up in order to carry out this task.
16 The time available for the testing of the Ishtirak approach has been too short within the reality of Chad. The project should have had more time as an Oxfam operational project in order to get the maximum out of it and in order to hand over a project team and a project which has found a more or less definite form. It is now not unlikely that the project will lose its specificity without clear positive or negative results.
17 It is very doubtful if the Ishtirak approach is repeatable on a large scale. Such an approach is only suitable for NGO projects that can operate independently and flexibly on a small scale.
D THE REVOLVING FUND SCHEME THE ACTIVITIES OF THE PAs
18 Big question marks remain around the issue of the Ishtirak revolving fund scheme. It is very difficult for the project to follow up on the revolving funds, mainly because of the lack of confidence which still exists between the project and the PAs. Continuing the close follow up in the near future is recommended.
19 It can be concluded that long-term interest-free loans are not appropriate in the given situation, especially when conditions are ill-defined. Besides the fact that a long-term loan is considered as a gift, the groups are also not encouraged to use their own capital.
20 The fact that the members of the PAs are most of all interested in individual loans and not in group loans should have been taken into account and analysed more seriously at the start of the project and when RF facilities were defined. It is now not unlikely that the possibility of cheap credit through the project prevents the PAs from constituting a communal cash fund through their own contributions to be used for individual credit, a system which has been successfully introduced in other projects.
21 Production-increasing activities should go hand-in-hand with activities to increase and stabilise market opportunities.
22 The concept of a communal herd as a sort of communal reserve, although theoretically and ideologically sound, is very foreign to the community concerned. It might have been a valuable activity in a later phase of the PAs' existence but not as a starter activity. The same applies to other communal production activities such as communal fields and communal cereal stocking as undertaken by some PAs.
23 For the PAs the attractive aspect of the cattle-trading activity is the fact that the project gives them an official paper that gives them some protection against unauthorised officials who ask for fees and taxes along the road.
24 The agro-pastoralists see no advantage in communal security cereal-stocking through their own cereal contributions without a significant contribution by the project. In that case they prefer their traditional, individual security cereal-stocking system.
25 The experience with activities around cereals shows again the complexity of this issue. Especially in areas which are normally self-sufficient in cereals but deficient in drought years, it is very difficult to develop a system which limits the risks any better than the traditional systems of the agro-pastoralists, which are based on the interaction of agriculture and animal production.
26 The idea of each member contributing equally to the well-being of the PA and its activities is very idealistic and this is definitely also the conclusion of the PA members themselves. They worked out their own system whereby certain inputs were rewarded and others were not.
27 It is quite likely that the revolving fund will disappear little by little once a PA has used up its credit allocation. In difficult years it is very likely that the PA will use up its revolving fund.
28 It is questionable if the complex subject of environmental degradation lies at present within the scope and capacities of the project team and SECADEV.
E THE PAPA-VET PROGRAMME
29 As animal health problems are not enormous in the zone, it should be recognised that the paravet programme is not the first priority from the PA's point of view, but it is the most practical activity and therefore a good starting point from the project's point of view.
30 Vaccination of cattle against such killer diseases as rinderpest and anthrax has a high priority amongst cattle owners. According to experiences so far, the most important and significant role of the pare-vet is that of animator and organiser of the PA members for the vaccination campaigns against the most important diseases like rinderpest and anthrax.
31 For curative and preventative treatments (other than vaccinations) of animals the interest of the livestock owners is very limited as they consider these generally as not economically viable within their production system.
32 The role of the veterinary assistant from the Ministry of Livestock is that of trainer and adviser of the pare-vets and the PAs concerning technical matters. The veterinary assistant should not become a rural development animator as that should remain the role of the local animators and the active members of the PAs.
33 A problem with regards to the pare-vet programme is the decline of the veterinary kit's revolving funds. The livestock owners consider the fact that they can delay payment as the biggest advantage of the presence of the veterinary kit in their PA. The result of this attitude is the decline of the revolving fund's cash flow which results in a lack of available medicines and a paravet who is unable to execute his tasks.
34 The pare-vet programme as part of the PA and managed by the PA committee has the advantage that the livestock owners have a say in the functioning of the pare-vet and his services. However, in reality the PA members do not provide the rules for the functioning of the pare-vet but consider the pare-vet himself responsible for the functioning and the financing of the veterinary kit.
35 The pare-vet programme as part of the PA structure has without doubt improved communications between the veterinary services an the livestock owners.