Project sustainability I

More debate on this topic found here http://www.hcdconnect.org/questions/how-can-we-esure-sustainability-in-rural-development-projects-after-the-funding-period/

Project sustainability entails strategies  put in place to ensure that project benefits  continue to be felt beyond the period of external donor support. There are various ways to look at this

1. Exit plan

The project should have exit plan, in absence of exit plan implementation team should work on preparing exit plan. The exit plan should have linking with the community and government department. So that the project intervention can take over and carryout support if needed. In any project or intervention all components are not scalable or sustainable, so it is important to identify which component is sustainable. Based on the well functioning component implementers can plan or design to make it sustainable.

2. Creating local ownership

Give  priority for creating sense of ownership and commitment among the targeted community to ensure sustainability after phasing out. One mechanism for sustainability is to elect executive committees from influential community members that own the project starting from the design. The committees are expected to secure the sustainability using local resources after end of the project. Some organizations sign tripartite agreement among themselves,  government administration and executive committee that become a platform to guarantees the sustainability of the projects.Lastly, weaning process by the partner funder should not be abrupt but be in line with the phasing out process. A strong sense of local ownership and genuine participation in design, project implementation and monitoring and evaluation by both men and women are critical to successful implementation and sustainable benefits, OECD (1989). Designs should build on local demand and initiatives. This requires that the stakeholders (i.e. the beneficiaries and local personnel) meaningfully participate and play a core role in the identification and design process. The idea should come from the community, belong to the community, and be a part of the community, it should be locally driven.

3. Building the capacity of beneficiaries

Sustainability is very key to any project and the key players to it are the beneficiaries themselves. When designing the project, we should ensure that the beneficiaries are allowed to get involved and create opportunities arising from the funded project. This will result into them exhibiting high ownership of the project. An example is given of a 2008 project created in Sichuan China after the earthquake. This project first trained women survivors on handcraft skills and secondly supported them to establish their own business. The third aspect of the assistance was in helping the women find marketing for their products. After the grant period, those women continued to run the business by themselves and are still benefiting from arising profits. 

4. Thinking process

Sustainability comes in where there is an abundance of locally available resources (human capital, land, water, vegetation and clean unpolluted air). It starts with a participatory involvement from project inception where the vision and the mission and mission of the endeavor are locally generated and not implanted. This is an empowering process that brings about mutual understanding between members and partners. The local communities organize themselves around the said endeavor, taking full control and responsibilities of their project/s (ownership) and being proud with their endeavor. External contributions only come to contribute to the local initiative instead of destroying it by replacing it.

5. Service Payment

Beneficiaries could also be made to pay for  service. It is believed that paying for the service contributes as a solutions to poverty by instilling discipline and responsibility. This solution is derived from market solutions that quash free charity debunking it to sentimentality. It is important however that the price of the services sold should lie in the space between market and charity if ever it is to assist the most vulnerable. For those not able to afford then pure charity could be explored.

6. Continuous local resource mobilization

There is need to  consider the aspect of continuous local resource mobilization to support the activity.  The establishment of a strong community organization, or the strengthening of the existing organizations which will continue to operate, manage the project efficiently and effectively after the end of funding is a critical step towards sustainability for all kinds of rural projects.

7. Maintenance and responsible use

Some projects such as warehouses, roads, building or training room will remain to be useable even when the period of project funding comes to an end. Even without external funding, the people in the community can maintain the infrastructure by providing volunteer services, i.e. cleaning and doing repairs. If there is a strong community organization, the leaders and members can take charge of these tasks as well as mobilizing other community members.

Sustainability of the green environment means that the project will not cause damage to the environment in the community. Examples of projects that may cause damage to the environment are roads that cause flooding due to improper design. If that happens, the road itself will be damaged eventually and the people will not support this project. Other projects such as handicrafts making which use plants available in the locale should ensure that the sources of raw materials for the project will not become extinct due to over harvesting. Therefore, the project should have a plan for re-planting or maintaining their natural habitat, in the case of forest flora and fauna. If any part of the project causes environmental damage, this project will be a burden instead to the people and will not be sustainable. 

 

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