Empowering Community Change Makers to Take Action

Kingsley Agu, Kaduna State Chapter Lead

Kingsley sensitizing head teacher, community & SBMC members in Fadan Kamatan, Zango Kataf LGA, Kaduna state.

In 2017, my team and I began tracking education projects in grassroots communities across four Local Government Areas (LGA) in Kaduna state, Nigeria. During the course of tracking, we adopted a more sustainable approach which was to get the community buy-in and collaboration. This means they take responsibility for ensuring these projects are implemented. We decided to review existing structures that address education issues at the community level.

Prior to this, we had heard a lot of discussions about how the community members cannot really comprehend and actualize development projects because of their technicalities. We identified this as a knowledge gap and devised strategies to empower the people by building their capacity on understanding these projects.

We chose the community structures because they are the direct beneficiaries of the work being done at the community level. They have children attending schools built at the community level; they receive healthcare from the Primary Healthcare Centres and because they are directly impacted by the outcomes of these projects, it is important that they own the tracking processes.

The task at hand was to track the construction of 70 schools within a frame of three years in four LGAs of Jema’a, Kudan, Kajuru and Zango kataf Local Government Areas, so that more children in marginalised communities can access basic education.

Since the Follow The Money team cannot be everywhere at a time,  we set up a structure made up of already existing Community Based Organizations (CBOs), School-Based Management Committee (SBMC), the Parents Teacher Association (PTA), Artisans, Community members (Youth and Women leaders) and Traditional rulers in some instances. These groups formed what we call the School Monitoring Team (SMT).

Kingsley sensitizing head teacher, community & SBMC members in Nisama, Jema’a LGA, Kaduna state.

We identified gaps in the capacity of the SMT, the quality of information and the amount of information they had access to regarding constructions or Projects going on in the communities. We discovered the gaps in the way and manner with which they implemented the guidelines for their associations. For example the SBMC has a guideline that empowers it to monitor schools in its local communities but the unit has not been optimal so our job was to empower and build the capacity of the  team.

To get them ready, we organised a series of training targeted at the gaps we observed. We also provided them with information needed to offer  oversight on education projects particularly the Universal Basic Education projects in their respective communities. We were able to access information (including the Bill of Quantity)  about the projects from Kaduna State Universal Basic Education Board (KAD-SUBEB) using the Freedom of Information act. We trained the SMT on how to interpret and make use of a Bill of Quantity (BOQ), how to effectively track, monitor and report their findings and how to carry out a Community Action to demand for accountability from respective government agencies in whatever project-education or healthcare-in their communities. By empowering their skills, we were giving them a voice to demand accountability from their government.  Together with these community members, we formed a formidable team. We attended meetings with Kaduna State Universal Basic Education Board, engaged them in tracking activities and tracked projects going on in 23 schools in the four local government Area worth over 1.5 million US Dollars in just a bit above one year.

Outcome of the capacity of these groups that we had built was that the community members independently petitioned the anti-graft agency, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to sanction SUBEB in Taban Sani to apologized to the Contractors for acting ignorantly in Kufana to the detailed Community members of Fadan Kamantan down to ever active Nisama Community members, they are the unsung heroes of our tracking Success. They understood their right from the onset that if these projects were not properly implemented, they would suffer for it. They knew that their livelihood depended on the success of these projects, they understood that they have a role to play in ensuring better service delivery at their respective communities and they delivered- the SMTs delivered!

Together with their delivery and our engagements with Kaduna State Universal Basic Education Board, the community members earned themselves a seat at the procurement table and tendering process of the board and will be part of the project pre-contract processes and KAD-SUBEB has also made a policy that no Contractor will ever go to any community to carry out any project without first informing the community, a policy we helped influence.

Connected Development is an initiative that is passionate about empowering marginalised communities.

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