Three years ago, when I started working with SAWBO and was learning the ropes of information dissemination SAWBO content, I had great ideas of what worked in the political world where I had worked for many years. It took me time to realise that one needed a little more than ‘raw hope of the coming change’ while dealing with real issues that affect communities. What worked the magic in politics which was largely rhetoric innuendos couldn’t move masses in real life, a life in which the community expects solutions to the challenges they encounter.
After a while,I came to realise that while working with any community, itis important to involve the local administration right from planning to implementation of whatever project, or program you have in mind. Involving the local administration instils trust and confidence in the residents who attend and participate knowing that whatever attracted government involvement must be legal and good for their consumption.
I involved the local administration in 2021 when I was organising the first three-day SAWBO information penetration study in the Mung’ang’a community. Participants included farmers, traders, and health workers who were very willing to participate in the program, but hesitant to divulge personal information and details required by my team. However, when I involved the local administrator, who is a representative from the office of the president everything began to flow without obstruction.
The Assistant Chief, Mrs. TruphenaSalasya played a pivot role at cementing our relationship with a community that has proved to be faithful, steadfast, and very reliable in consuming SAWBO content. Our continued engagement with the Mung’ang’a community has earned our volunteers the pet name ‘watuwa SAWBO’ translated into Englishas ‘the SAWBO people’by members of the community. We formed a strong bond are often stopped at market centres and public places to chat and share the latest news about our videos and training programswith chicken farming and horticulture being an all-time favourite.
Commenting on working with the local administration, Mrs Salasya offered that,
“It opens the heart of the communityenabling an organisation to wire directly into their brain bank and upload/download educative content that is willingly and readily put into practice.”
Admittedly, if the local administration is not involved, community projects and programs hit bottlenecks such as delays in implementation. This leads to a decrease in excitement and other challenges because there is no local authority to confirm to the community members that all is legitimate. In short, mobilising community members for simple projects or functions can easily turn into a nightmare when the local administration is not involved.
Another group that has been important in our progress are the national and county government extension service providers in agriculture, community health, environmental conservation, and other social development officers. These officers work with local communities and understand the challenges faced in all regions. They provide crucial information on how to manage expectations, handle challenges, and make inroads. These officers are usually overwhelmed by their community’s needs and always accept help from our volunteers sharing free SAWBO animation content translated into local languages and dialects which makes their work easier and exciting.
In this blog, I have highlighted the Mung’ang’a community experience while working with local administration because it was our turning point in mobilisation for program implementation. The administration involvement adds goodwill and trust required for any organisation to succeed in each community and also makes the monitoring and evaluation processes easier.
I am confident to advise all individuals and organisations seeking to make inroads into local communities to seek the indulgence and direction of local administrative units because this strategy has worked for my team and helped build a strong and wide network.