TUSONGE, a CBO in Moshi, Tanzania, suggests that CSO identity is constructed through consciously managed practices and methodologies
TUSONGE is a community Development Organization based in Moshi municipality and serves women groups at ward and district levels in two districts of Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania. EASUN visited TUSONGE in October 2014 and met with 6 staff members, including the Director, Aginatha Rutazaa.
“Though we are based in town, we are a CBO (Community Based Organization)”, explained Happyjoice Kisanga, a senior field worker at TUSONGE. She went on to observe a number of practice preferences that guide TUSONGE’s work with local grassroots communities, for instance: “we always start with base-line surveys before carrying out any interventions in communities.” Adding to this, the director of TUSONGE noted that TUSONGE’s work is focused on building communities: “We always ensure that we get the consent of the community before we undertake any activity within its sphere of influence. We only offer facilitative guidance, to ensure that a community’s real needs and priorities are being addressed.”
Managing the identity of a CBO
TUSONGE staff members believe that a CBO is characterized by practices and methodologies that are participatory and bottom-up, for instance:
- Activity implementation is designed through systematic consultation with relevant communities.
- Creating ownership and confidence by insisting on contributions by communities, e.g., meeting spaces (church building, mosque or community school) for training and other learning platforms. Offering such facilities, by communities, translates into monetary contribution to the project.
- Multiplying the knowledge of the local situation through community animators trained in facilitation skills.
- Participatory and learning based M & E that involves community members in formulation of indicators and tracking of changes.
Multiplying knowledge is also TUSONGE’s built-in exit strategy to ensure sustainability and empowerment in its work, especially since TUSONGE can only reach 200-300 people directly at the Ward (local government administrative) levels where they provide services to local communities. The strategy of “knowledge multiplication” enables TUSONGE to move on to work with new communities without fear of erosion of either spirit or capacity in the previous ones supported.