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Question 9: Working Ourselves Out of a Job

Question 9: Working Ourselves Out of a Job

Posted by Patrick Coonan on 20 Aug 2014

During a plenary session at the TOPS/FSN Network Knowledge Sharing Meeting in July 2014, Susan Bradley of Food for Peace (FFP) asked the food security implementers in the room for their thoughts on key questions regarding the updating of the FFP Strategic Plan. This is the ninth question in that series.

We welcome your thoughts and will be sharing your ideas directly with FFP. You can view the small group report out from the plenary session for this question by skipping to minute 1:06:24 of this recording.


USAID is increasingly embracing a model of development that places the strengthening of local and national institutions, together with engaging the private sector, at the heart of sustainability.

What should this mean for FFP programming?

Local ownership in a few dimensions

Posted by Joan Whelan on 26 Aug 2014

Posted on behalf of Stanley Stalla, FFP Officer, USAID/Burundi

For one thing, we should place a huge emphasis on developing cheaper, local substitutes (maybe not full one hundred substitute, but covering most of the nutrition requirements) for our imported food.  This can include different approaches to fortification of local foods (national, local level, bio-fortification) and investing in local markets and food production and value-added products.  This has policy implications, as well as private sector market opportunities.  For example, in Burundi, we have been talking with WFP about a) a national fortification policy (now in the works) and b) developing small-scale cereal blends that could be used, for example, in refugee camps or for school feeding.

On a different tact (re working ourselves out of a job), from a management standpoint, we should continue to encourage our local (LES, or FSN) staff to take on greater responsibility.  It’s my hope, here in Burundi, that when my assignment comes to an end, we can transfer portfolio management responsibilities to my Burundian colleague, and perhaps hire one or two other (Burundian) team members to support him.

Heart of Sustainability

Posted by Gabrielle.Ben on 5 Sep 2014

We feel that FFP should understand that strengthening of local and national institutions along with engaging in private sectors cannot be fully accomplished in a 5-year program/project. In order to move from vulnerable to viable in a sustainable way this process takes time. We also believe that FFP as a prerequisite should provide groundwork (ex. Pre-teaming agreements) with local and national institutions. FFP should also provide a definition of “sustainability” and provide necessary examples of what is defined.

support govt extension agents & local groups as an exit strategy

Posted by Emmet Murphy on 9 Dec 2014

It is absolutely critical to work ourselves out of a job and elevate the imporance of exit strategies. One way to do this is to work with host governments more closely and possibly local NGOs through grants.

Some suggestions that can contribute to an exit strategy include:

1.Support government agriculture extension structure rather than hiring NGO staff who will only work with communities while the project is operational. In most cases, govt extension officers are not present in the rural areas. If they do, they may lack the means to reach these populations and do not receive salary on a consistent basis. Title II implementers can help the government get the ball rolling by training new officers and cost share extensionist salaries which would be phased out over time. There are many cases when such roles have been taken over by governments, communities (ideal) or funding salaries through the World Bank or other donor funding.

2. Support government health workers and community-led volunteers such as Lead Mothers of Mother Care Groups (MCG).  Let's improve coordination between multiple NGOs who often work with same health agents and add more work. We should focus on government (SUN) and community led solutions (MCGs, etc.)

3.Support local associations by building the capacity of these groups so they can continue without NGO assistance. These efforts take time and five years can even be too short!

4.Continue to bolster value chain linkages but bear in mind that the most vulnerable households will have a hard time taking advantage of these opportunities if they are illiterate, PLWHAs, ill, widowed (w/ orphans), lack land, capital, etc. Let's have realistic expectations about what can be accomplished and provide them the support to help them succeed and improve their food security. One size does not fit all.

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