THROUGH HOME GARDENING:
DEVELOPING A PLAN OF ACTION
By the end of this session, field workers will be able to:
Husband, wife and children discussing home garden improvements
Individual consultations with households are valuable but cannot give families all the knowledge and skills they need to make their own decisions and then act on them. The community, as a group or in several groups, must take actions that make people aware of the importance and urgency of improved food production and better nutrition, and then be assisted in implementing those actions. Information and practical training in home garden technologies and nutrition are needed to achieve these goals. This is where agricultural extension workers and other field workers can provide valuable support.
Proper action requires good planning, and good planning can be done by using a simple project planning method. In this session, the basic terminology and principles of project planning and formulation are discussed, illustrated and applied.
Presentation of method for project planning. The trainer uses the Technical Notes in this session to introduce the elements of a project. He or she emphasizes that the project method is based on simple reasoning and is particularly valuable because it guides people in preparing for needs and any problems that might arise after work on the project has begun.
Preparing a project. The trainer displays the first three stages of Project Outline 1: Training in home garden development which are the rationale, goal and objective of the project. The trainer asks the field workers to work in small groups to finish writing the plan of Project Outline 1 for their given area and to think about how an intervention or project could be implemented. Field workers can draw upon the information acquired during their dialogues with community members. Their work should include discussion and preparation of the:
The participants can propose the project elements in any order, but they should organize and present them in a logical manner. Depending on the exposure and project formulation experience of the field workers, the assistance of the trainer may be required.
Feedback. After the participants have completed their project outlines, the trainer displays the completed Project Outline 1 and invites the field workers to discuss the differences between it and their own project outlines.
Note: Project Outline 1 is only an example. The participants' own project outlines will probably be more sensitive to local needs and conditions.
Short discussion. The trainer displays the first two columns (problems and causes) of completed Table 9.1, "Food and nutrition problems, and their solutions", and invites the participants to suggest what kind of community action would be suitable in each case. The trainer then displays Column 3 (solutions), and the field workers compare their solutions with those in the table.
The trainer emphasizes that a realistic plan is one that is small and manageable and makes use of available resources. Half a day of work should be allowed for this session.
Small group discussion of indicators. After going through the elements of the project, the trainer emphasizes the importance of selecting indicators. Indicators will help the community and participants determine if the selected home garden and nutrition improvement activities are producing the expected results. The trainer then divides the participants into small groups. Each group examines Table 9.1 and discusses the type of indicators that could be used to show whether or not each of the proposed solutions or activities in Column 3 of the table were producing the expected results. The field workers should write their proposed indicators in Column 4 of the table.
Community action must raise awareness as well as provide practical training
In previous sessions, the participants learned to recognize the importance of household food security (i.e. having access to enough nutritious foods year round) and the home garden's potential contribution to food security. They applied their knowledge both to case studies and to individual real-life situations.
The next thing to consider is how the entire community can improve its household food supply. An initial step towards developing the different components of a community plan of action is to list the solutions that community members consider feasible. Households may be able to implement some of these solutions immediately, while other solutions may require them first to mobilize resources and acquire practical skills.
There also may be a set of problems that community members do not necessarily perceive as problems because they lack the knowledge (e.g. the causal relationship between parasitic diseases and malnutrition). Participants should identify these types of knowledge gaps.
The strategy for action to be adopted must therefore involve:
With the list of activities established, community members can discuss them and then decide jointly how, by whom, when and where those activities should be undertaken, and what inputs and technical assistance may be required to implement them. Knowledge of the different elements and stages of planning enables field workers to facilitate this step-by-step process.
Action to promote improved nutrition through home gardening requires careful planning
Any project or programme involving a number of households will need careful planning. One of the most effective ways of planning an action programme is to work systematically through the elements of project formulation:
Planning a project is like planning a journey. Before you embark, you need to decide:
A methodical approach makes it possible to:
ELEMENTS OF A PROJECT
Rationale. A rationale is the reasoning behind a plan. In the case of home garden development, the lack of knowledge and skills among the household members means that some form of education is important. The rationale should also clarify who is to benefit from the plan. Women are often the managers of home gardens and the household food supply. Therefore, women and their husbands may be the direct target group and beneficiaries of home garden improvement projects, while children will be the main indirect beneficiaries because they will benefit from an improved diet.
Goal. A goal is an ultimate aim. In this training course, the goal is improved food production and nutrition through better use of the home garden.
Objective. An objective is what is hoped will happen as a result of the project activities (e.g. households will improve their farming methods in specific ways, they will produce more foods and a wider range of foods, and families will have better diets). More specific than a goal, an objective should be worded in such a way as to make it possible to measure (in quantitative terms) the progress towards it.
Strategy. A strategy is a general procedure proposed for achieving an objective (e.g., a community group will decide whether it will implement improvements as a group or as individual households, which activities/services can be organized jointly and which individually, and how group members can assist one another in technology transfer and information sharing). The strategy should take into account all local constraints and conditions, including traditional and cultural factors as well as resource and climatic constraints.
Outputs. An output is an actual result or product of project activities (e.g. 20 households trained in soil and water management, one demonstration home garden developed, 20 water- harvesting facilities established). If there are many activities to achieve one objective, there will be many outputs for that one objective. In any detailed plan, the description of an output should include the quantities involved and a date by which the output must be completed.
Activities. Activities are what is done during the project to produce the outputs (e.g. training, demonstrating, selecting field workers, producing charts). In a detailed plan, it is important that the description of activities make it clear who is responsible for each activity.
Inputs. Inputs are all the things (e.g. labour, equipment, money) necessary to make the activities possible. In a detailed plan, inputs should be quantified (e.g. 30 notebooks,
2 trips, 10 work days per person) and their costs estimated.
Timetable, or work plan with a time frame. The timetable sets out the time needed to complete each of the project activities and makes it possible to measure progress during implementation. It can be prepared as a detailed work plan showing who does what, when, over what period and with what results.
Monitoring. This is an essential component of each project. It involves recording specific types of information (i.e. indicators) on a regular basis to enable group members to assess the progress they are making towards reaching their objective. It can also be an important management tool. It helps determine if the objectives are realistic or if they need to be revised, and helps identify and anticipate problems so that group members can take steps to avoid or solve them.
Evaluation. An evaluation is done at the end, or when a project is completed. It measures whether the project has achieved its stated aims or objectives. Well-defined objectives are important to allow measurement of success.
Example of a project outline. The project elements described above are illustrated in Project Outline 1, an example of a project outline on training in home garden development. This is only an example, and the field workers can prepare different ones based on the outcome of the follow-up field visit.
PROJECT OUTLINE 1:
TRAINING IN HOME GARDEN DEVELOPMENT
Home gardening can be greatly improved by enhancing the use of the garden for improved household food security and nutrition. Many people in rural villages lack the experience, knowledge and skills to make improvements. Sometimes they also lack appropriate planting materials. Knowledge and skills can be transferred by identifying successful home garden managers who are prepared to work with less-successful or less-knowledgeable households, supported by agricultural extension staff. The need for planting materials can be met by setting up nurseries in individual home gardens, which can be managed by the respective managers on a commercial basis. Visible success is more persuasive than a thousand lectures.
The goal is to improve food production, supply and utilization and, ultimately, the nutritional well-being of the community through better use of its home gardens.
The objective is to enable 200 households to prepare and put into action their own plans for improving year-round availability of a variety of nutritious foods by (one or several of these, depending on the local conditions):
A field worker will help families analyse the main problems that exist in their home gardens and the options and opportunities they have for making improvements (e.g. available land and sufficient labour). The field worker will also help identify those families who have developed their home gardens well and who apply good practices.
Home garden managers (e.g. husband or wife, or both) will be invited to a series of training sessions involving demonstrations of good home garden practices and the introduction of new techniques. With the help of the field worker, these home garden managers will then develop plans for improving their own home gardens. In addition, practical demonstrations of food processing and preparation will show them how to make the best use of their produce for the nutritional well-being of their families.
OUTPUTS AND TARGETS
Note: For each of the following outputs and targets, a date of completion should be set. The expected outputs include:
The field worker
When planning activities for each output, the field worker:
In the above examples, the activities are classified by the people or groups of people who will be doing them, in order to show clearly each group's different responsibilities. Normally under each output there would be only one list of activities and an indication of who will be responsible for each activity and the time it should take to be carried out. Based on this information, a work plan is prepared.
The following inputs are needed:
The timetable usually indicates the starting time and duration of an activity:
Note: After listing the inputs, the next questions are, "Where will the inputs come from, and what will be their cost?" Such information is useful in identifying low-cost options that can be implemented immediately. Options that are costly (e.g. building a water well) may require joint action by the community. In this case, the field worker must assist the community in preparing a proposal, including a budget, for submission to a community development fund (operated by the government or an NGO) that provides matching grants for community projects. Matching grants provide funds or inputs (e.g. materials, equipment, technical assistance) that must be "matched" by a community contribution in kind, for example, the labour needed to dig a well and materials that the community can supply from its own resources (e.g. cement and sand for making bricks).
After listing those inputs that must be costed, the next question is, "Which inputs can be met from community resources and which require outside support?" Such information is useful in preparing a budget.
Food and nutrition problems, and their solutions
Vegetable and fruit production of the home garden is insufficient to meet household nutritional needs
Home garden production is enough for only part of the year
Household members' diets lack variety