Catholic Relief Services works to empower rural communities to engage in market equability, profitability and sustainability. Their food security and livelihoods programs aim to meet everyday nutritional requirements and help increase food security. The focus is on vulnerable communities in six districts in the Southern and Western provinces of Zambia.
Agriculture is one of the main sources of income in Zambia with about 70% of the Zambian population dependent on farming. However 25% of people in rural areas own less than 1 hectare of land and many families in these areas are unable to meet their nutritional needs.
The Catholic Relief Services work to empower rural communities to engage in market equability, profitability and sustainability so that rural families can earn a basic income, including cash for food and other necessities.
Support includes the following:
CRS Agro Enterprise Programmes in Zambia
CRS works with 1,200 small holder farm families in Western Province, building farmer groups skills in organisational and financial management, experimentation and innovation, market engagement and sustainable production.
Micro finance services
CRS has a savings-led micro finance service where farmers can access credit for investments in improved production and marketing technologies. CRS Zambia currently supports 7, 700 savings group members of which 80% are women. CRS is also pioneering commercially sustainable models to train and certify local field agents as Private Service Providers (PSPs)
In Western Province, CRS is expanding replicable, mobile information platforms that are low cost, scalable and affordable to farmers and farmer groups so that they can share current market information.
C-FAARM (2007 -2011) project
The C-FAARM (2007 -2011) Project was a five year $36.5 million CRS programme in Southern and Western provinces. This project, funded by USAID, has enabled about 15,000 smallholder farm families to produce higher yields and diversify production.
Promotion for Food Security Programme
Funded by the Scottish Government, this programme enabled 92% of participating farming households with surplus produce to access markets. 94% of these farmers had diversified their crop production by the end of the project.
CRS integrates farming with improved nutrition through the promotion of keyhole and homestead gardening as well as techniques for processing, preparation and preservation of produce to increase food availability and dietary diversity throughout the year.
The CRS approach to agro enterprise
Building farmers' skills
Joint research with the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) shows that farmers require five complimentary sets of skills in order to engage effectively and sustainably with markets:
Linking farmers to markets
CRS works with farmers to build their ability to identify viable market opportunities and increase their efficiency, volume and product quality. This enables them to engage more effectively with specific actors in the value chain. CRS also deals with value chain actors themselves, to help them reach deeper into communities and engage with more farmers including vulnerable but viable farmers.
Ensuring participation of women and vulnerable farmers in value chains
CRS' savings-led micro finance programs typically attracts female participation rates of 70 – 90%, engaging them in enterprise activities and commercial agriculture. Field facilitators from CRS work with farm families so that they make joint decisions about what to produce and sell, thereby helping women to have a say in how their income is earned and spent.
Integrated research and learning
CRS is a co-founding member of the Agro-Enterprise Learning Alliance for Eastern and Southern Africa. It regularly cooperates with local and international research institutions in Zambia such as:
Market based model
CRS' private sector provider model enables local entrepreneurs to expand fee-based services in rural areas to savings and producer groups. Qualified and agro-enterprise micro finance field agents earn income as they create and support groups. The groups in turn receive support from a quality assured service provider independent of CRS' or donor support.
Farmbook is an innovative mobile solution developed by CRS that offers agriculture extension agents and service providers in NGO, Government and private sectors the tools required to provide farmers with customised advice on farm business. Farmbook helps farmers' groups to create business plans and calculate profits and also allows project managers to monitor groups and their average profitability in real time.
CRS has published the following resources for agro-enterprise professionals:
CRS approach to agro-enterprising
With its headquarters in the USA, the Catholic Relief Services' mission is to assist impoverished and disadvantaged people overseas, working in the spirit of Catholic social teaching to promote the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person. With its mission rooted in the Catholic faith, Catholic Relief Services serve people based solely on need, regardless of their religion or ethnicity.
Overseas work is done in partnership with local church agencies, other faith-based partners, non-governmental organizations and local governments. Catholic Relief Services emphasises the empowerment of partners and beneficiaries in programming decisions.
Catholic Relief Services has programs in eight Zambian provinces, dealing with agriculture, health care, micro finance and capacity building.
The Catholic Relief Services' immediate goal in this sector is to improve family well-being through agro-economic development and environmental stewardship. The long-term goal is to strengthen the capacity of local communities to take control of their own development.
The organisation's food security and livelihoods programs aim to help vulnerable communities in six districts in the Southern and Western provinces of Zambia and to increase food security and meet everyday nutritional requirements. Catholic Relief Services work to empower rural communities to engage in market equability, profitability and sustainability.
Catholic Relief Services is one of the leading providers of support-based health institutions in Zambia and works with more than 30 health facilities, including diocesan and community-based organisations. Catholic Relief Services is dedicated to strengthening health systems by working on functional improvements in structures and systems in order to ensure greater access and quality of care for poor and marginalized people. Many CRS programs are focused on HIV and AIDS work in support of those living with the HIV virus.
The Catholic Relief Services in Zambia provide financial support to vulnerable members of the community through a savings-led micro finance system known as Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC). This initiative has created over 470 savings and lending groups that support over 7, 700 members.
Catholic Relief Services believe that capacity strengthening of local partners is fundamental to achieving sustainable development. Therefore the organisation's approach aims to foster strong local ownership by helping to build the capacities of partners. Catholic Relief has partnered with more than 40 local organisations in Zambia to implement high-impact development programs.Catholic Relief Services programs
Catholic Relief Services facts
Catholic Relief Services works with more than 30 health facilities, including diocesan and community-based organisations. CRS is dedicated to strengthening health systems by working on functional improvements in structures and systems in order to ensure greater access and quality of care for poor and marginalised people.
Catholic Relief Services runs several health programmes in Zambia to help address the health needs of the most vulnerable in society. The agency's health programs include a broad spectrum of services, from community support and care to clinical treatment that meets the diverse needs of clients. Many CRS programs are focused on HIV and AIDS work in support of both those living with the HIV virus.
AIDS Relief-Transition Project
Funded by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the AIDS Relief-Transition Project is a CRS-led program that is building the capacity of 19 local treatment facilities that will deliver lifesaving care and treatment to thousands of Zambians living with HIV/AIDS. Each year the program provides on-site clinical training to more than 200 medical and clinical officers, while supporting facilities in their efforts to build strong financial, management, monitoring and evaluation systems. The ultimate goal is to transition the leadership of this programme to Zambian partners – the Churches Health Association Zambia (CHAZ) and Chresco Ministries.
In order to address the shortage of health professionals needed to deliver health services, CRS and the University of Maryland's Institute for Human Virology came together to support Zambia's Ministry of Health and General Nursing Council to establish a one year diploma programme for nurse practitioners. Working with the University of Zambia and Ministry of Health, an 18 month Masters of Science (MSc) programme in HIV medicine has also been created.
CRS and the community
Focus on sustainability
CRS believes that building strong health systems that are directed and managed by Zambian organisations is fundamental to achieving sustainable service provision. CRS works with local partners to enhance clinical skills to deliver quality health services, strengthening systems and institutional capabilities to expand and sustain those services simultaneously.
Strengthening health institutions
CRS draws upon its Holistic Organizational Capacity Assessment Instrument (HOCAI) and AIDS Relief's Site Capacity Assessment tool to support local health partners to conduct self-assessments of their management and organised capacities.
Enhancing clinical competencies
CRS works with teams of seasoned, highly trained national professionals to provide training and membership to staff at partner health facilities. These teams are composed of professionals with a wide range of expertise in the medical field that provide holistic training. These experts provide on-site mentoring after training to reinforce and support the application of new skills.
Building community capacity
Realising the important role played by families in communities in regard to health care and support, CRS works to strengthen the health structures and systems at community level. CRS supports training and skills building of neighbourhood health communities, nutrition groups, community health workers and community caregivers and works to strengthen communication and referral systems between facilities and communities.
CRS has published the following resources on health systems strengthening:
Health systems strengthening
The Catholic Relief Services in Zambia provide financial support to vulnerable members of the community through a savings-led micro finance system known as Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC). Catholic Relief Services has created over 470 SILC savings and lending groups that support more than 7, 700 members.
In recognition of the fact that 64% of Zambian live below the poverty line, Catholic Relief Services has developed a savings-led micro finance model known as Savings and Internal lending Communities (SILC), to offer the poorest families in the community a strategy to protect their assets, smooth cash flow and increase income.
Saving and lending groups
CRS has created savings and lending groups that support 7, 727 SILC members with 472 groups. CRS has introduced SILC into HIV home-based care programs to help clients and caregivers build, maintain and protect their assets. SILC has helped people living with HIV/AIDS and their families' members by protecting their assets, enhancing food security and helping to cover medical expenses.
Orphans and Vulnerable Children Programmes (OVC)
CRS assists local partners in four provinces to integrate SILC into programmes that support orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) enabling caregivers to better support their families. SILC also builds financial management and other important life skills for youth participation.
Farmer access to credit
In the Western province, CRS helps to strengthen farmers' ability to successfully engage in markets by providing access to credit for SILC members in order for them to invest in improved production and marketing techniques. CRS supports 375 SILC members under the Farmers Advance management Engagement programme.
Training private service providers
CRS is pioneering commercially sustainable models to train and certify field agents as Private Service Providers (PSPs) The PSP model enables local entrepreneurs to expand fee based services in rural areas. PSPs earn an income as they help create and support groups.
CRS also leverages technical innovations to improve project monitoring. Using a simple mobile phone application, field agents are able to collect information on gropus' progress and send timely reports from the field via text messages.
The CRS approach to savings-led micro finance
SILC offers members flexible financial services, customised to the preferences and needs of its members. Members self-determine the maximum and minimal amounts they are willing to save on a weekly basis in order to reduce inequalities in the group so that the poorest member can save reliably while allowing members with additional means to save more.
Participation of marginalised groups
SILC is dedicated to providing flexible financial solutions to marginalised groups such as women, poor farmers, orphans and youth. 86% of SILC members in Zambia are women.
Growing members' savings
Unlike Financial institutions where interests on loans remains with the institution, Silk members are able to keep and benefit from interest generated during the savings cycle. The interests paid back on loads allow the groups internal fund to grow.
SILC helps families in rural areas to manage their finances better, saving during the times of plenty and accessing loans during lean times.
SILC helps families that are victims of natural disasters, poor harvest death or illness of a family member survive through the shock. Through SILC, poor families are able to save for access loans to meet pressing needs. Most groups opt to contribute to a social fund that can be used for small grants during emergencies.
Focus on sustainability
SILC groups are owned and managed by their members contributing to long term sustainability and financial independence of the group. Members usually live in the same community and are encouraged to self select into groups with other members they know and trust.
Building solidarity and mutual support
SILC provides an opportunity for people to met on a regular basis and discuss issues that affect their community. Social cohesion and a sense of belonging is ctreaed through self selection and the opportunity to share a common goal of improving their lives. This in turn empowers members to become agents of change in their own communities.
CRS has a number of publications on savings-led micro finance including:
CRS savings-led micro finance
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) believe that capacity strengthening of local partners is fundamental to achieving sustainable programs. Healthy local institutions help ensure that positive changes outlast project funding, project staffing and material and technical support.
CRS works through local partners to deliver quality development programmes, and works to transition project management to full local ownership. CRS recognises that local people and organisations are best suited to identify and address their own contextualised development needs. Across the world, CRS works with more than 3,000 local agencies including religious and secular organisations, community groups and host governments, to implement high-impact projects in more than 100 countries including Zambia.
CRS capacity strengthening efforts in Zambia
Operating in Zambia since 2000, CRS has been working with local partners to implement programs in agriculture, micro finance, health and nutrition, and HIV. Through these partners, CRS has provided support to strengthen the technical and institutional capacities of more than 40 local organisations.
CRS conducts regular training for local partners in finance management, human resource, and information and technology. CRS has also trained partners in logistics and supply chain management. CRS provides training to partner field staff in monitoring and evaluation (M & E) of programs, helping partner organisations to develop systems that support learning and decision-making based on evidence. Through coaching and data audits, CRS supports partners to continually improve skills in M & E.
CRS is currently planning a new fundraising curriculum to support partners in building sustainable fundraising strategies. The curriculum is intended to help partners think, plan and strategise on how they can ensure continuous and adequate funding to sustain program activities.
The AIDS Relief-Transition Project
The CRS AIDS Relief-Transition project is funded by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDs Relief (PEPFAR). It works to strengthen the capacity of 19 health facilities to deliver quality HIV care and treatment services. Using tools such as the Site Capacity Assessment (SCA) tool, CRS supports health facilities to assess and develop plans to strengthen key areas such as management, finance, and monitoring and evaluation.
Transitioning of leadership
CRS continuously strengthens the institutional capacity of the Churches Health Association of Zambia (CHAZ) and Chresco Ministries, with the goal of ultimately transferring leadership of the AIDS Relief project to Zambian partners. As of July 2012, CRS had fully transitioned 10 out of 19 AIDS Relief sites to CHAZ and Chresco. CRS support has also helped CHAZ to become a direct recipient of United States Government funding for HIV care and treatment activities.
The CRS approach to capacity strengthening
CRS understands that strong local institutions lead to sustainable programs and durable change. The CRS' approach is founded on decades of experience and is grounded on the proven principles of organisational development, adult learning, change management and behaviour change. Its four core principles are:
Capacity Building: Better performance through enhanced individual and team knowledge, skills and attitudes
Institutional strengthening: Better organisational performance through improved systems and structures
Coaching and mentoring: Support to ensure sustained improvements.
Capacity strengthening resources
CRS capacity strengthening tools help ensure technical and organisational success. These include:
CRS capacity strengthening activities
CRS capacity strengthening