T r a i n i n g
TIPs experience has shown that social and organizational strengthening of Water User Groups is a pre-requisite before they can participate effectively in interventions aimed at improving irrigation. Strengthened groups enable farmers to plan, execute, monitor and evaluate their development activities. Training in organizational strengthening covers the following:
* Gender Awareness training brings positive impact on benefit distribution and sharing of tasks among men and women. It aims to break taboos and recognizes the role of women as main implementers of development activities in rural areas.
* Leadership Skills enable group leaders on the project site to understand their roles and responsibilities. At the local level, group leaders rarely possess relevant skills necessary for management of their groups. The traditional mode of leadership is based on clan rules, which is not democratic. The training assists leaders to develop commitment to work and maintain group cohesion.
* Legal Aspects training allows farmers to understand their rights to land and water resources. Groups are guided through the registration process under a legal framework. Such groups can enter into contract farming. Contract farming enables farmer’s produce for a known market, since a contract is signed with the buyer before sowing. The group is also informed about their contractual obligation once in agribusiness.
* Business Awareness training is conducted to change smallholder farmers’ mindsets, looking at irrigated agriculture as a profitable venture.
* Communication Skills enable group leaders to be able to communicate amongst themselves. Before training, this group often lacks confidence and is unable to express themselves in public.
* Financial Management training provides group treasurers with book keeping and financial management principles. It helps members maintain good records.
* Planning and Management training provides relevant skills necessary for planning and management of group activities. It assists group leaders to develop plans and monitor implementation throughout their projects.
* HIV/AIDS instruction enlightens farmers on the effects of the disease. In sub Saharan Africa, 67% of the individuals living with HIV/AIDS are young women aged 15 – 24 years and 33% are young men in the same age group. Incidentally, this cluster is the work force in the agriculture sector. Farmers are encouraged to develop a work place policy as well as mainstreaming HIV/AIDS in irrigation improvement activities.
* Soil and Water Conservation training permits farmers to be able to identify and understand soil erosion problems in their farm and to undertake the right measurements to stop erosion and to improve the use of the available natural resource in a sustainable way.
* Afforestation training introduces the management of home homestead tree nurseries and encourages tree planting within the catchment area.
Advanced training is given to Village Technicians on the topics of organizational and gender aspects including business awareness, land management, operation and maintenance of irrigation structure and water management. The village technicians disseminate the knowledge and skills to their fellow farmers.
Through awareness campaigns TIP assists water user groups to participate in district Water Boards and local development council meetings. These opportunities provide forums to influence agricultural and marketing policies favorable to smallholder farmers.