During the first full quarter of REGIS-ER implementation, activities carried out in Niger and Burkina Faso focused on recruitment , meeting with GON and GOBF authorities, FFP partners and subcontractors; rental and furnishing of country-level and regional-level offices; procurement; and transitioning field activities in Tillabéri South from Arziki to REGIS-ER. Five regional team members and ten facilitators were hired to continue activities in the four communes of Tagazar, Tondikandia, Imanan, and Filingué.
REGIS-ER’s strategy is to continue and expand successful activities initiated under Arziki and other West Africa projects including USAID|Wula Nafaa, USAID|Yaajeende, and the Moringa Project. In the first few months of operation, complementary field activities are being developed in USAID|REGIS-ER’s agriculture, governance, and health and nutrition components.
In the non-capital regions where the Project is working, three agents were sent to Maradi, two to Zinder, and two to Tillabéri North by the end of March. These initial teams facilitated the selection of communes for intervention and prepared for the arrival of facilitators and regional teams. Intervention zones have been finalized for four work zones in Niger (Tillabéri-Nord, Tillabéri-Sud, Maradi, Zinder) that cover seven departments (Tillabéri, Balléyara, Filingué, Guidan Roumdji, Dakoro, Magaria, Mirriah) and ten communes: Sakoira, Kourteye, Tagazar, Tondikandia, Imanan, Filingué, Guidan Roumdji, Sabon Machi, Bandé, and Droum.
In Burkina Faso, the Program identified a candidate for the Program Representative whose CV has been approved by USAID. The Ouagadougou office has been rented since the beginning of the quarter, and the processes of renting three regional offices and selecting intervention communes in the target regions of Burkina began in February. The final selections of six communes in three regions are:
- Dori and its two communes, Seytenga and Titabé in the Sahel Region;
- Kaya and its two communes, Barsalgho and Namissigma, in the North Central Region;
- and Bogandé’s communes of Manni and Gayeri in the Eastern Region.
Management, administrative and financial procedures are being set up by support missions carried out by the Chief of Party, the Deputy Chief of Party, and the Director of Finance and Administration. The Deputy Chief of Party has been acting as interim Program Representative in the Ouagadougou office since February while awaiting the arrival of the new REGIS-ER Burkina Program Representative. The process of hiring the rest of the regional and field teams will finish in early May. All regional staff participated in an orientation to the Project and its strategy held in Niamey in March.
A summary of the Project’s technical achievements are described by component as follows.
Sustainable Livelihoods (SLC)
The activities of the Sustainable Livelihoods Component focused on selecting key products for processing during the 2013-2014 fiscal year: moringa, dolique, okra, cabbage, and onion.
A profile was developed to solicit Community-Based Solution Providers or CBSP. 71 village animators (VA) applied and were evaluated for their potential to become CBSP in the Tillabéri-Sud work zone. This includes 25 individuals from Tondikandia, 11 from Tagazar, 14 from Filingué, and 21 from Imanan.
During the quarter, five irrigation system models were identified as appropriate to the Project’s goals: oasis garden, piped irrigation, California system, modified California system, and fenced market garden plots. Seed procurement for rain-fed and irrigated agriculture is underway for 2014.
Governance and Natural Resource Management (GNRMC)
The component spent the first quarter contacting Niamey partners, collecting support documentation on vulnerability, and initiating local convention activity in the commune of Tondikandia.
A draft guide on the steps to develop a local convention was developed by a consultant, and Regional team members were trained in the steps. Steering committees are being set up for the communes of Tondikandia and Damana, and four geospatial thematic maps will be produced with assistance from USGS.
A guide for farmer-managed natural regeneration was developed and given to the regional teams to use for implementation of NRM activities. FMNR is programmed for sites in Balléyara/Tondikandia, Agou, Toumboram Atta, Bangario, Sansani Tabla, and Sourgou Koira/ Kandoum. Preparations for training and refresher courses are in progress.
Agreements to collaborate with Red Cross (to facilitate existing modules for disaster training in Niger) and GENOVICO (to participate in conflict resolution activities) are being finalized.
Health /Nutrition and WASH
The quarter was dedicated to hiring and training staff at all levels. An initial training on improving quality of health services was given in January. Partners and organizations were contacted during the quarter so that all parties could become familiar with the Project.
SPRING conducted an assessment of the status of its stakeholders between November 2013 and January 2014 under REGIS-ER. Results from this assessment will help the component to refine its intervention strategy. An operational strategy for implementing the PTA and a plan for communications for social behavior change are being drawn up.