Participatory Grant making: A New Dawn in Local Resource Mobilisation and Putting People at the Centre of Development.

Residents of Wilunze Village in Chamwino District, Dodoma Region, have expressed gratitude for the implementation of a project in which two primary schools in the village received 140 desks, 22 teachers’ tables and 14 chairs. The project has helped solve the challenges teachers and pupils faced at the learning facilities and residents are amazed by the timely and efficient implementation of the project, thanks to guidelines provided to a local women’s group that received a grant to implement the project.


The group, dubbed Ujirani Mwema, is one of two groups from within the village that sought a grant from FCS to implement a pilot project on participatory grant-making. Participatory grant-making aims to give local people and communities more say and control over what is funded in their area. Community members help design and drive programmes, set goals, make decisions about allocating resources and evaluate success.


It involves ceding grant-making power to affected community members and placing them at the centre of grant-making by giving them the power to decide who and what to fund. As for the project in Wilunze, the group got funding from FCS for a pilot project that aimed to gauge how effective participatory grant-making works.


It all started when the foundation considered implementing a participatory grant project in partnership with its partner organisations operating at the local community level. FCS, in collaboration with Wilden Ganzen, funded the project through AFNET, a member-based organisation that works with communities to bring about positive change socially, politically, economically and culturally.


Through assistance from AFNET, two groups within the village applied for the grant and Ujirani Mwema proved to be able to implement the project, given its nature and timeframe. Before the commencement of the project, a village assembly was held and officials from the above-mentioned organisations attended and explained to the residents the intention to implement participatory grant-making projects in the area.


As per the grant condition, the villagers were given the opportunity to identify the most needful projects. They realised several needs, but settled on the desks and tables for the two schools. Thereafter, an advisory committee was formed to work closely with the group in implementing the project, which was to be undertaken within three months.

Mr George Nahani, then chairperson of the advisory committee, says among the team’s tasks was to provide guidance and close monitoring of the project. Prior to the project taking off, committee members attended training at the FCS sub-office in Dodoma city, where they were trained in project supervision, among other things.


“The capacity-building training we got from FCS helped us a lot in supervising the project and we ensured it was implemented as per the set standards and in a timely manner,” said the chairperson. He commended the project’s transparency, starting from how it was identified to the disbursement of money and execution, describing it as the best-ever project in the village.


According to Mr Nahani, who is also a religious leader in the village, disbursing money directly to a group on the ground to implement the project was a very wise decision.


We have experienced a lot of delays and bureaucracy in several projects in the past, but this one was very transparent and all the involved parties were pleased with its implementation”, he added.


Leaders of the Ujirani Mwema women’s group, which implemented the project, were also trained at the same office in financial and project management and other related matters.


The group chairperson, Ms Joanita Khaywa, noted that the project was implemented at a cost of 12,719,900/-, enabling Wilunze Primary School to get 90 desks, eight teachers’ tables and six chairs, while Juhudi Primary School got 50 desks, six teachers’ tables and six chairs.


She said the project’s implementation began in August 2023 and was completed in October of the same year. According to the chairperson, the project helped empower the group and they now have the knowledge to handle even bigger projects.


We are now confident of undertaking much bigger projects after getting training and successful implementation of the pilot project,” she said, adding that they are now seeking funds to implement various other projects in the village.


Ms Khaywa said the group, with 19 women members, is seeking another project in the town, appealing to FCS to consider implementing a similar project in the neighbouring school, which is in dire need of support.


She noted that the group had impressed residents since before the project when it conducted several volunteering activities such as donating items like sanitary towels and learning materials for children in eight schools.


The project has relieved parents, teachers and pupils, who now study in a better environment, as attested by Ms Elizabeth Vincent, a teacher at Wilunze Primary School.


She says, “Before the project that saw our school get desks, the situation was not good since most pupils used to sit on the floor and there were no teachers’ tables in several classrooms.


According to the teacher, the project has helped solve the problems pupils and teachers were facing. The school has 602 pupils and 15 teachers.


Hali Ally, a teacher at the Juhudi Primary School, shared similar sentiments, expressing gratitude to FCS, AFNET and the Ujirani Mwema group for their commendable work.


“This is one of the best projects in the village and it has met all the set criteria and time,” said the teacher, adding that the women’s group also proved its capability in handling such projects.


AFNET’s Project Officer, Mr Tobias Mtui, while acknowledging the timely implementation of the project, applauded the Ujirani Mwema Group for the good work.


This is a clear indication that such groups at the grassroots can help bring about positive changes,” he said, adding that the organisation has been working with various groups in the district in an effort to bring development to the people.