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Uganda Community Management Programme (CMP)
 . . . Lessons Learned  . . . Uganda Logo
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This document follows the same outline as the Community Management Strategy. In each section there may be a few words of description about the topic, then observations based upon six years of CMP project work, then the lessons learned, resulting from those observations. . The Strategy begins with general strategic considerations, including the variations between and within countries that would call for variations in the strategy. It then goes on to describe the three major parts or elements of the strategy: (1) Community Participation, (2) Community Management, and (3) Enabling Environment.
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General Lessons:
Among the four CMP pilot projects, Ghana, Uganda, Costa Rica and Ecuador, it soon became obvious that there were major strategic differences between those in the Western hemisphere, and those in Africa.  . In spite of many similarities of ecology, economy and social and political history, between Ghana and Uganda, there were also many differences between those two countries.
This document therefore begins with some of the unique features of implementing CMP in Uganda, which required adaptation of the strategy, and which were factors in the different results.
Observation: One of the most important features of the environment over the 1992-98 implementation period of CMP was the decentralisation process.  . The CMP ProDoc was written for the prior, centralised set-up. As decentralisation proceeded, it was discovered that there was no legal relationship between the CMP national office and the implementing districts.
The allocation of community project funds, and of training budget, then became problematic, as there was no arbitrating authority, and the districts came into competition with each other and with the national office. This was not resolved. . Lesson learned: CMP should have set up a dispersal committee for the allocation of both government funds and UN funds, for projects, for training, and for operations, developed and recommended by the steering committee, approved by the Ministry, Habitat, and UNDP, and confirmed in the Tripartite meeting.
Variations in the Strategy:
The following factors were included in the strategy as variables 
that would affect how the strategy was implemented.
The degree and Nature of Enablement in the Environment:
Observation: The three sources of an enablement environment, (1) central government, (2) district government and (3) NGOs had different effects on the environment of the communities. . The professionals (eg CDOs and principle officers) had training (mostly theoretical rather than practical) at university level about community development interventions, the problems of the dependency syndrome and the mobilization cycle for community strengthening.
The Ministry at the central level, however, tended to be under funded, and to passively accept the community development efforts of bilateral, UN and NGO donors. . Some half-hearted attempts were made to prepare a national community development policy paper, but those tended to be shelved when sitting allowances disappeared.
Meanwhile, the districts were given the responsibility to plan, manage, and monitor all developmental activities formerly handled by the central government. . The districts were much in need of expertise and skills, especially in participatory planning and management. CMP did not take up this situation as a challenge, and missed an opportunity to play a greater role in the decentralisation process, advocating for increased participatory activities devolved to the districts.
   Meanwhile the NGOs (those involved in development in contrast to those involved in emergency response and charity) brought with them considerable expertise, energy and tended to favour participatory methods (thus enhancing the enabling environment). . They were not united, co-ordinated or integrated into national policies (which were still in preparation).
Lessons Learned: We should have included these items more specifically in the ProDoc: assistance in writing and promulgating a national policy paper, giving consultancy contracts to NGOs, and include them more in CMP planning meetings and workshops, increased training for district officials (both awareness raising and skill transfer), . . . . greater collaboration with NGOs, production of simple documents explaining CMP methodology, the value of decentralisation (and that community strengthening is more than political empowerment), and a vision of co-ordination between central government, district governments and NGOs in forming an enabling environment conducive to self help strengthening.
The Current Level and Varieties of Community Participation
Observation: Uganda has had a history of community participation, but not all of it has been positive. In some cases in the past, cited by community members where CMP has worked, residents were forced to contribute communal labour. Their attitudes and understanding of community participation were understandably negative. . Furthermore, the era of Iddi Amin where he centralised gifts to communities and made many promises outside his financial capabilities, meant that a period of several years went by without reinforcement of community self reliance attitudes.
Lessons Learned:: Considerable awareness raising initiatives were needed for CMP. Most of these took place between 1992 and 1994. . To this were added the management training, which was unfamiliar, first for district co-ordinators, then CDAs and then mobilizers.
The Level of Urbanization, Ethnic Heterogeneity, and Urban Facilities:
Observation: Although Habitat has an urban bias, CMP Uganda had a range of target communities, two urban ones in Kampala, and two peri-urban and two rural ones in Mpigi and Mubende districts. . What we learned is confirmation that community development techniques need to be varied, and responses to the interventions differ (from the methodology's rural roots) in urban areas.
Where the communities are more transient, have fewer loyalties to the area as such, are mainly renters (rather than traditional "owners"), and where urban facilities are close by if not present, then the community priorities differ.
Urban residents are more interested in advocacy than in construction, they see that extending the urban water supply is more practical than digging new wells, are aware that connection the urban sewer system is more practical than digging latrines, and solidarity in favour of advocacy for tenant rights, and urban facilities more important than uniting to build new clinics or schools. . Where there is already a community loyalty based upon its history, it is easier to engage in unity organizing, although urban slum dwellers are more willing to unite for advocating rights.
The Levels of Consensus and Unity Within Each Community:
What we found was that the levels of unity were very much related to the above urban variable, and that flexible community interventions needed to respond to observation and analysis of community conditions.
The Core Features of the Technology and Economy
The core features of the technology and economy include whether they are  fishing, farming, herding, hunting, industrial, or commercial. . CMP Uganda did not include three types of technological bases that do occur in Uganda: (1) fishing (lake-side) communities, (2) herding (nomadic, eg Karamoja) communities, and (3) hunting (eg pygmy) communities.
The major variable was that the CMP pilot communities lay along a spectrum ranging from horticultural rural to urban. Along that range, generally it was easier to unite sedentary rural communities for construction, and urban slum communities for advocacy. . Management training was about equally received along the rural-urban spectrum, and needed a few literate community members, but not universal literacy.
The Level and Nature of Management Skills and Organization:
The type of management raining and unity organizing practised in CMP is simple, basic, and designed for communities with low levels of education. There appeared to be no difference in how they were received. . What we did lack, however, given that a wide range of guidelines were prepared by the CTA, was a set of training aids and material in simple English and local languages. Although the district co-ordinators were required to have university degrees, and the CDAs diplomas, they were not willing or able to convert the guidelines into simpler language.
The Nature, Status and Influence of NGOs:
For the most part, CMP at the national level had minimal interaction with NGOs, although there are a large number and a wide variety of international NGOs working in community related sectors. . At the district level, in contrast, working relationships between the district co-ordinators and whatever NGOs happened to be in their respective districts, was very co-operative and mutually beneficial.
Although the Ministry failed to prepare guidelines or policy for the NGOs, the 
CMP guidelines served as a substitute to encourage standardization and 
consistency between direct CMP activities and NGO activities in the districts.
Observation: Most training in the CMP Uganda strategy (for skill transfer, awareness raising, information dispersal and re-organization) was non-formal, unorthodox, demand-driven, on-the-job, context-oriented, non-classroom, non-lecture, facilitative and participatory. . What we learned, however, was that it should have been more planned, better documents, more consistent between the districts, and better monitored.
There was no overall plan of action for training (although that was based upon it being 
"demand-driven,") and an agreed upon format for devising (1) content, (2) methods of 
training, (3) monitoring, (4) recording or documenting, or (5) evaluation.
Co-ordinators were very eager to get on with the action (eg holding workshops) without the planning, monitoring, evaluation or documenting that was necessary. . Since the financial accountability was very crude and late in presentation, it appeared that there was more interest in holding the workshops than attention paid to the purpose and outputs of the workshops.
Gender Balance:
Observation: Uganda is favoured with a political leadership and a developing set of legislation which favours gender balance. Unfortunately the attitudes and conditions favouring gender inequality permeate the civil service, the districts, and the target communities. . Although most international assistance to the country, bilateral and multilateral, specifically include a gender balance component, the implementing of gender awareness-raising activities for each, including CMP, starts afresh as if no prior lessons were learned, and that gender awareness is something new.
Lesson Learned: The CMP strategy should have included more specific outputs in terms of gender awareness and gender balance. . More attention should have been paid to integrating and co-operating with other gender balancing projects and activities.
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Element A: Community Participation:
Community Participation in General:
Observation: Of the three parts, this was the most successful in terms of accomplishments. One major reason is that the district co-ordinators, who were mainly responsible for promoting community participation, mobilization, and stimulating community based projects in human settlements facilities and services, were all trained in the orthodox community development methodology, up to degree level. . The CDAs had diplomas in the same field. What little training the mobilizers had, were provided by the co-ordinators and CDAs on the job. The weakness in this area was not in the action, but in the monitoring and reporting of the action. No institutionalization of any monitoring (let alone community based monitoring) was set up.
Lesson learned: Good results. Although the number of community projects was less than in the ProDoc, they were acceptable in terms of quantity and quality, and the strengthening effects on the communities was verified. . Continue to use existing Government resources and organizations in this sector. Provide more training for the mobilizers. Awareness raising and training of co-ordinators (CDOs) and CDAs, in the following two parts of this strategy.
Participation of all members of a target community (irrespective of biological or social characteristics) is essential to both poverty reduction and community strengthening. . In CDP "participation," specifically means full community (not only some factions of a community) participation in control and decision making:
Observation: There was a high rotation of mobilizers and community leaders (in both urban and rural target communities). This, it was found, was because many of those who volunteered at first did so with an assumption that there would be some immediate material advantage to themselves if they did so. . The mobilizers and leaders who came on board later appeared to include more altruistic ones, although the change in personnel also required subsequent repeats of training and briefing.
Lessons Learned: Along with this high expectation of personal gain, many of the persons who benefited from the training and from the construction of facilities, as community members, were also mobilizers and community leaders. It was difficult to make the distinctions, but evidence indicated that not all community members participated fully in decision making as was intended. . Leaders, opinion makers and educated members of the communities participated more than the majority, and influenced community decisions such that the choice of priority problems and goals tended to be those of the ones who participated most.
The key decisions to be made, and control to be exercised, included assessing situations (needs and potentials), determining priority problems (and generating goals from them), planning actions (community action plans, project designs), implementing and monitoring them, and evaluating their results.
Community Participation Promotion:
Observation: In spite of some bias towards more participation by leaders, opinion makers and educated members (noted above), all community members had the opportunity and were encouraged by the co-ordinators and mobilizers to be communally involved in the above decisions. . Lower involvement was the issue in monitoring and reporting.
This tendency was traced to the low enthusiasm for transparency among the leaders and bureaucrats, and low desire to make substantive reports by the co-ordinators (whose civil service status moved them more towards minimal of written observation and analysis, the safe route for civil servants).
Lessons Learned: More monitoring and challenging questions by the national office might have influenced the district co-ordinators to pay more attention to the composition of the community executives (implementing committees). . More active demands from the ministry for substantive reports might have also encouraged the co-ordinators and mobilizers to put more encouragement on full community participation.
The Main Steps in the Cycle:
Observation: Generally all the steps of the mobilization for community participation promotion were carried out by the co-ordinators, assisted by the CDAs and mobilizers. . The only apparent weak area was in monitoring and reporting, eg documentation of both the activities and the results of those activities.
Lesson Learned: More formal explication the ProDoc requiring documentation at all levels, including the planning, monitoring, evaluation and reporting of the mobilization cycle (and, as noted below, documentation of the management training and government enablement parts of the strategy).
Sensitizing Authorities and Getting Permissions:
Observation: The sensitization and obtaining of permissions should have taken place during 1992-3. Unfortunately there are no detailed records of the workshops held at that time. There was no open discussions by co-ordinators of vested interests among local and district leaders, civil servants and technical experts, and that they were expected to move from being providers to becoming facilitators. . According to those met, the limit of their sensitization was that they heard what they wanted to hear, i.e. that CMP was coming with funds for the construction of community facilities.
Lesson Learned: Judging from the large number of complaints that there was too much time spent on training and not enough on providing budgets for construction, it appears that the sensitization was either poorly planned, poorly implemented, or poorly evaluated; probably all three. . This should have been made more explicit in the ProDoc and in the strategy.
Raising Awareness Among Community Members:
Observation: The notion that CMP was coming with resources to construct community facilities was a common assumption among community members. . That indicates that not enough time, planning and effort were provided for raising awareness without raising expectations.
Lesson Learned: Since funds were dispersed for awareness-raising workshops, but there are no records of methods, curricula, evaluations or narrative reporting of activities in those workshops, we must expect that the workshops were not sufficiently planned and executed, or that the money was diverted to private benefit. . Before encouraging the community to act (and therefore learn and become stronger) the mobilizer must make the community members aware of specific realities.
These include:
  • (1) If they remain passive and expectant of government or other outside help, then they will remain with the burden of poverty and weakness;
  • (2) No community is totally poor; if there are live humans in it then it has resources and potentials, including labour, creativity, life, desires, and survival skills and living attributes;
  • (3) People will be more likely to join in and help when you are already helping yourself;
  • (4) The mobilizer (and the mobilizer's agency or department) does not bring resources (funds, roofing materials, pipes), but is there to encourage and assist in some management training and guidance.
During this step, it is important to avoid raising false expectations, and actively counteract 
the inevitable assumptions and rumours about the kind of assistance to expect.
Observation: There is some evidence, in the form of oral traditions among co-ordinators, that this was carried out in the districts, but there was no formal reporting, no monitoring, no evaluation and no documentation. . Judging from comments and complaints of community members, their awareness levels of these realities were not sufficiently raised.
Lesson Learned: These details of the realities should have been made specific from the start, and put onto paper in simple and clear language so that when co-ordinators heard of assumptions to the contrary, they could then point out to the assumers what the CMP reality was and counteract against those assumptions.
Furthermore, there was little effort by the national co-ordinator or the director of community development to ensure that the permanent secretaries and ministers were aware of these important points that should have been specifically made part of the awareness raising process. . Since there were also many opportunities to meet the press, who were invited to numerous community projects, check handing over ceremonies, completion ceremonies and other public affairs, the press could have been more carefully briefed about these issues.
Situation Analysis and Participatory Assessment:
Observation: There was no written evidence that situation analysis was undertaken by the communities at the stimulation and encouragement of the co-ordinators, CDAs or mobilizers. The was probably because of the general resistance to documentation among community workers. . The evidence that the facilities benefited only some of the community members (eg the educated, the leaders) points to the possibility that the community as a whole did not participate in initial situation assessments.
Lesson Learned: simple instructions, in the form of a guideline for promoting community participation (including situation assessments), issued as an official CMP document, and accepted and included as part of the work plans, should have been prepared and distributed.  More hands-on monitoring by senior department and ministry officials, asking for these operational details, may have encouraged more such participation. . There is a general assumption in the civil service that people fully know how to do their job as soon as they have been assigned to a post and given a job title (without briefing or training) and will do it without interest and supervision from their supervisors; this invites incomplete, unprofessional and inadequate implementation.
Unity Organizing; Consensus Building:
Observation: This appeared to be more of a problem in the urban communities than in the rural communities. . Lesson Learned: Unfortunately, the lack of detailed documentation and reporting made it difficult to assess the level and type of unity building undertaken by the co-ordinators, CDAs and mobilizers.
Defining Priorities; Problems and Goals:
The same observations and lessons learned as in the above two issues.
Making a Community Action Plan:
Organizing a CIC, Executive Committee:
Observation: This was done 
for all communities.
. The degree of community participation, of representation,
and of decision making was not documented.
Lesson Learned: Ditto.
Implementation and Monitoring:
Observation: Several of the community members came to the national office to complain that they did not trust their own implementing committees. . This was because the committee members (chosen by the whole community?) were not being transparent about the community project finances.
As in the strategy outline, transparency during implementation (and the need for monitoring and reporting to the community) is essential at this phase. . Either the co-ordinators and mobilizers had not made it sufficiently clear that this was an essential requirement of organizing and managing self help activities, or they did not follow up enough to ensure that it was being carried out.
Lesson Learned: Training material, and programmed awareness raising and training workshops should explicitly focus on the necessity of monitoring by all stake holders, including the community members, at all phases, especially during implementation.
Assessment and Evaluation (Impact):
Observation: Assessment and evaluation by community members were verbal and oral. No records were made or kept. No reports on community observations were made. . Lesson Learned: Same as above (monitoring) adapted for assessment and evaluation.
Repeating the Cycle:
Observation: The ProDoc and the funding available was made in expectation that each target community could engage in several community based projects, dependent upon changing priorities. . In reality, each community engaged in only one CMP-assisted project (although there were several other activities such as clean-up campaigns), so there was no opportunity to repeat the cycle.
Lesson Learned: Awareness raising and training workshops for the staff and mobilizers should have been scheduled, to take the ProDoc, and developed a workable strategy, from the beginning of the project, supplemented by follow-up sessions conducted annually, or when there was considerable turnover of staff.
Other Capacity Building Interventions:
Assessment and analysis of existing local organizations:
Observation: There were some assessments undertaken by external consultants in 1992/3, and a few dusty documents left on the shelves. There were no records of the results being analysed by staff (eg co-ordinators, CDAs and mobilizers) or other evidence that the assessment documents were used by CMP officers.
Since there was a major turnover of staff during the suspension of CMP Uganda in 1994 (new CTA and new NPC), and later all three district co-ordinators changed, there was no continuity, even in the form of oral tradition, between the assessments and the implementation. . The documents produced by the consultants appeared not to be thorough or complete, often not listing some groups (elders' or other councils, women's groups, credit rotation groups, people's movements, associations of special interest groups, such as the disabled or other vulnerable groups) that were in evidence in the target districts after 1994.
Lesson learned: This should have been made explicit 
in the ProDoc and an overall agreed-upon strategy.
Enhancing Local Organizations
Observation: Apart from the built in strengthening of the CBOs in the target communities, there was no overt support or strengthening (ensuring representation and participation in community affairs, promoting gender participation, assisting in legal status of community organizations) of other non governmental groups in the target communities of districts. . Lesson learned: Same as above (assessments) in terms of identifying support and enhancement.
Fostering Co-operative and Functional Relationships
Fostering co-operative and functional relationships between various organizations: promoting opportunities for co-ordination and pooling of local resources (human, capital, supplies, land). . Ditto.
Income and employment generation, emphasising training, credit, marketing.
Observation: The income generation element of CMP Uganda was not explicitly laid out in the ProDoc, but there was considerable demand for it, especially among the district staff. Along with that demand there were many misconceptions about what Habitat could and could not do, what was intended in this sector, and what its goals purposes and methods were to be. Habitat saw it more in terms of action training of very low income unemployed women in skills necessary for saving, borrowing, investing and managing productive micro enterprises. . The staff hoped for control of the capital, so they could initiate larger enterprises ($30,000 loans instead of $300 loans), co-operatives (where groups would be involved in production, not only organizing for credit management), where middle income persons (including civil servants and teachers) could get access to capital (not the lowest income women), and where the district administrations or the ministry would administer the loans (instead of financial institutions such as banks or credit unions).
This tug of war resulted in lack of agreement and co-operation needed to implement this element of CMP, and it did not get off the ground. . The heat and conflict generated by these differences contributed to the politicisation of the steering committee, and misinformation to the Minister about the whole nature and set-up of the CMP project and Habitat's role as executing agency.
Lesson Learned: The design of the income generation scheme should have been completed in some detail prior to the signing of the ProDoc, so that these issues could have been resolved by reference to an accepted document. . It was unrealistic to expect that this (or other important documents such as a training programme or an overall country strategy) could have been developed in the field after implementation had started.
Settlement Shelter and Infrastructure Upgrading:
Observation: This was successfully carried out by local campaigns in the target communities, plus the construction of communal infrastuctural facilities resulting from the management training. . Lesson Learned: Although poorly documented, recorded, monitored or reported, this aspect was most successful in CMP Uganda.
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Element B: Community Management:
Observation: While this part was not so successful as the first, it was acceptable. The district co-ordinators quickly caught on to the management training, including the unorthodox element of using it for re-organizing. . The CDAs were less quick to understand it, as it was not taught at diploma level. A further problem encountered was the high turnover of district civil servants, and even more (because of elections) district politicians and leaders.
Lessons Learned:  (1) Unorthodox and new concepts should be carefully explained to the co-ordinators and managers responsible for implementing the programme and a training of trainers workshop be included at the beginning. . (2) The strategy should include upgrading workshops in community management training and enablement every year.
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Element C: Enabling Environment:
Observation: Of the three parts, this was the least successful. . Several factors contributed. One is that the civil service is quite hierarchical, and there is not a big upward flow of professional information and analysis.
Combined with that, there was a high turnover, (1) CMP moving from ministry to ministry, (2) restructuring and recomposing of ministries, (3) changes in ministers, (4) changes in permanent secretaries, and (5) changes in all CMP co-ordinators. . Communication from Habitat to the Ministry tended to be through the level of project co-ordinator, and specific vital information did not filter upwards (more details below).
One minister remarked that she did not know enough about housing to speak at a CMP conference; she was not fully briefed by her own staff that CMP was a Habitat (human settlements, community development) project, and not about housing. . The Habitat CTA was expected by the Ministry staff to act as a low level civil servant, reporting only to the project co-ordinator, and was not seen as a representative of Habitat (although Habitat saw the CTA as its representative in Uganda).
In four years the CTA was invited to the PS's office zero times, and to the Minister's office (along with the UNDP Res Rep when anew Minster came on board) only once. . Nor was there a set of simple documents, in simple language, that came from Habitat for consumption by the Minster and PS, to explain that CMP was a management and capacity strengthening project, not a capital investment project.
Another major problem, exacerbated by this situation, was the "Physician heal thyself," problem. . The senior civil servants were to change from provider to enabler were the ones responsible for implementation, without having the commitment to that shift, nor the understanding of its importance in community strengthening.
Up to 1998 (the final tripartite meeting) the PS of Finance was judging CMP in terms of how many community projects were completed, not the strengthening of communities. . Another problem, but also an opportunity, was that the project was designed when political power was still centralised, but the government itself was undergoing a radical change of decentralisation, resisted mainly by certain factions of civil servants, where the district administrations did not have a lot of capacity in any planning and management, let alone this radical concept of participatory planning and management.
A further problem was that NGOs were active in community strengthening, but there was not a close operational or co-operative arrangement between the ministry and the international NGOs, many accusations of non-transparency from both sides, and considerable mistrust.  . The Government tended to invite only one organization, DENIVA, as the representative of all NGOs, when there was at least one other major NGO faction that did not cooperate with DENIVA.
Lessons Learned: High level communication, in simple language, from Habitat through the Resident
Representative of UNDP, to Ministers, every time a Minister or PS (responsible for implementing the 
project) is changed, as part of the senior level awareness raising strategy, is needed.
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The empowerment of low income communities, while a seemingly simple concept, is not one that can be simplistically implemented without consideration or several factors that will affect the outcome. The four most important, ie general variations in the society, and the three major elements, community participation promotion, community management training, and assisting the political and administrative environment to be more enabling of self reliance and community capacity, are all well considered in the CMP strategy. The complexity that arises from each of these factors, however, were not always well understood, and there were several powerful vested interests in key locations (especially civil service corruption, incompetence and bureaucratic inefficiency) that contrived to hinder the understanding and support of the strategy. In spite of the hindrances, however, the CMP strategy, implemented in Uganda between 1992 and 1998, in the end, vindicated those who had the vision to plan and implement it. The country will develop its human potential if its communities become stronger, and they will become stronger if a comprehensive and integrated strategy like the CMP one were implemented at the national level, and upscaled from its original pilot project level. Unfortunately, the Danida support that allowed its conception and birth, did not last long enough to allow it to grow to maturity.
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Correspond with us.  Updated:2001 September 3 .
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