FCS conducts cluster reflection sessions

The Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) on 18 January, 2023 met with its seven (7) cluster leaders who are implementing interventions in the FCS strategic focus areas of Youth, Gender (advocacy against gender-based violence and women’s access to land ownership), and Social Accountability and Public Expenditure Tracking (SAM/PETS in water, education, agriculture, health and inclusion). The meeting held at FCS offices in Dar es Salaam aimed to review and reflect on what has been implemented so far in the focus areas and provide feedback.


The FCS Executive Director, Mr Francis Kiwanga, reiterated engagement of cluster leaders with FCS partner members for impactful interventions at the community level and national policy advocacy. He also commended cluster approach reflection meetings, and said the gatherings should be sustained.


Mr Kiwanga said the leaders should continue to work as a team to bring about positive results for organizations and citizens, who benefit from FCS and partner interventions.


The FCS Programs Manager, Ms Edna Chilimo, urged cluster leaders to share their planned intervention activities for 2023, and state how they would support the overall implementation in their respective clusters, and share past experiences during implementation of their projects.


During the reflection meeting, the lead representative of each cluster organization detailed the progress made, and challenges faced in implementation, and also provided feedback from members within clusters.


Cluster leaders called for strengthened engagement among cluster members since feedback on interventions at rural, urban and grassroots levels supported cluster implementation of interventions at the national level during advocacy. They also called for frequent reflection meetings involving cluster leaders.


UNA Tanzania, the youth cluster leader working on interventions for youth economic empowerment at the national level, and which was represented by Ms Upendo Ngumba and Mr Lucas Kifyasi, reflected on successes and lessons, stating that despite the lack of youth representation in Parliament, there were parliamentarians who were concerned about issues related to the youth, and were supporting UNA in advancing the youth agenda.


“We have put more effort into ensuring that youth can access opportunities such as jobs, education and self-employment, but there are a number of challenges, including the issue of loans meant for youth groups. The protocols and application procedures for loans are available online, but some youth are unaware, and don’t know how it works, making it difficult for them to get loans offered by local authorities,” said Mr Kifyasi.


He added that the overriding requirement for the youth online application system was the National Identification Card, but most youth were facing challenges in obtaining the ID.


In her remarks on the advocacy for women’s equity, the representative of WILDAF-FCS cluster leader for women’s equity, Ms Vera Assenga, explained how technology had helped in advocating against gender violence, and in creating awareness among citizens on women’s rights issues.


Thanks to technology, GBV messages have reached a wider audience, and people now have easy access to published reports, and report any GBV issues they see. Technology has also made it possible for citizens to read the relevant laws on women’s rights, and understand their importance,” she said.


Ms Assenga added that Singida and Mara regions had high rates of GBV, but people were afraid of speaking out and report incidents for fear of reprisals. People are also reluctant to report GBV cases when the perpetrator happens to be a relative. She said children were also dropping out of school to work in production facilities, and parents were condoning this because they only cared about money, and not their children’s future.


As the cluster lead in advocacy for women’s equity, WILDAF is working with 16 organizations that specialize in gender in GBV and women’s access to land ownership issues.


In the reflection session, the SAM/PETS Education cluster leader, TENMET, said it worked with ten (10) implementors of projects and ten (10) representatives from communities in the implementation areas and LGAs.


Mr Chacha Wilson, the TENMET representative, outlined the various challenges faced in social accountability monitoring, including the lack of women’s participation in speaking out about their problems, and gaps in community members’ knowledge in conducting social accountability monitoring education. He said more interventions were needed to increase women’s engagement, and solve challenges that hindered women’s participation.


Mr Chacha also stated that local authority loans for people with disabilities were 2 percent lower compared to the youth allocation of 10 percent. He stated that the allocated amount should be increased as the loans were not enough for all people with disabilities.


He added that technological advancements had improved people with disabilities’ access to social services, but their participation in decision-making bodies was still limited, and they also faced various other challenges, including limited access to social services.


“For example, due to technological innovations, blind people can now open and operate bank accounts, but the participation of people with disabilities in decision-making bodies is still limited,” he said.


The cluster lead organization for social accountability monitoring in the health sector is Sikika, which was represented by Mr Emmanuel Mlongoza. Sikika collaborates with 11 partners from around Tanzania, including religious leaders and politicians. The organization also works to ensure that citizens participate fully in meetings.


Mr Mlongoza highlighted issues observed in the health sector. These include limited access to social services due to long distances; staff shortage, especially in urban areas; lack of citizens’ understanding of income and expenditure tracking, especially on the availability of essential medicines at public health facilities; poor infrastructure with regard to provision of healthcare, and lack privacy for patients, who sometimes have to use one room.


The cluster leader in SAM/PETs on water is TAWASANET-SAM-PETS WATER, whose representative, Mr Darius Mhawa, outlined the various challenges in the sector.


“There is male dominance in the management of water projects. There is also low participation during meetings, as people tend to fear government officials despite being aware that water provision services are far fem being satisfactory,” he said.