1. Moving to the district of Faradje

In February 2019 we moved to the district of Faradje, and together with the representatives of the evangelical church community (CECA-20) we decided to settle in a village called Lanza. This little village is situated close to the river Kibale, about 14km from a good road network. We introduced ourselves to the highest commander in Faradje District and to the chief of the Dongo people in Lanza. The Dongo is an ethnic group of about 20,000 who are all in and around the Lanza region.

We currently live in a small brick house, built as the church’s guesthouse. Life in Lanza is very basic. We have no running water, gas, lights or any modern facilities. We have installed solar panels to charge our devices and our water comes from a local well. We have an outhouse, made from local materials, as our toilet and washroom.

We are in the process of building our own little house. The challenge is to find the right building materials. We are making bricks locally, other materials are mostly available at the commercial centers like Aru, but sustainable wood is very hard to find. There is enough wood, but it has been cut from the precious forests, which is shrinking every day. This we absolutely refuse to use! The people around us do not understand and say ‘why not use the best wood we have?’ We want to preserve the beautiful forest, and so we will find sustainable wood from planted trees like Eucalyptus and Cypress.

2. Liaising with the local people, churches and government

It is important that everyone knows what we are planning, who it is for and with whom we will work, what methods we will use and how long we plan to take. Most people are starting to understand why we are here. In a high-level meeting with the church elders, the agreements were put in place, including the collaboration with the department of development of CECA-20. Locally, we have had several meetings with elders and chiefs. We spoke about how different people can get involved in the planning of activities, development of the methodologies, monitoring and evaluation, reporting and processing ideas or complaints. The project has been allocated a lot of farmland which can be used for training, testing and refining the method. Initial groups of young people have been formed, who will be training others.

3. Attending the ‘Develop Faraje’ conference

This conference is an important meeting place for representatives of big population groups, the government, and various church networks. The conference was held last April. We presented the 4 Pillars method and the project’s progress so far. We have been given ample room for this and there was a positive reaction of the participants. The Chief of the Faradje district who was initially hesitant about our approach mainly by lack of information now got convinced that the 4 Pillars will be of great value for his district. The next conference will be in 2020.

4. Visit the poorest farmers regularly

Building good relationships with families is the foundation of our work. We want to know what the needs are, what they dream of and the concrete plans they have for their futures. We also want to understand their faith and share our faith with them. Ultimately we hope to be friends with the poorest families, so we feel very comfortable with each other. By building these relationships, we will see and experience how the 4 Pillars will affect their lives and how it can be a success.

5. Prepare the 4 pillar training sessions

Together with CECA-20, we selected representatives, men, and women, of the poorest families. This group, totaling 12 people will form the staff who we train up to be trainers for others. The 4 Pillars method requires basic agricultural tools, weed killers, material for soil sampling and testing, seeds for crops, green manures, pesticides, insecticides and materials for the construction of a barn.

6. Delivering training sessions on the 4 Pillars

The staff is trained by us theoretically and by practicing the 4 Pillars method. The total length of this training is around six months, spread throughout one year. Meanwhile, the staff begins to mentor the poorest families. We initially assist with mentoring until the staff is able to work independently.

7. Mentoring the poorest families in the 4 Pillar method

The staff works with the poorest families to make plans for the implementation of the 4 Pillars. This includes who does what, when, how much land we aim to improve per family, how do we capture results and how do we organise everything. In the first year, we focus on Pillar 1 and 2 and in the second year Pillars 3 &4 will follow.

8. Spreading the 4 Pillars

There is a high demand for the 4 Pillars method which we deal with carefully. We have to remind people that we do not have the financial means to offer training and free materials on a large scale (see activity 2). There are ways people can organise themselves in groups to request for credit at a formal credit broker. We will advise and assist with this, perhaps by helping them to develop business plans and approach official institutions.

9. Evaluation, and refinement of the work

Every year, we organise a formal evaluation session of our work with all the participating families. We also invite others, such as representations of CECA-20 and the government. At these evaluation sessions, we ask the question ‘How, and to what extent, does the 4 Pillars contribute to the dreams of the poorest families?’ We expect these sessions will lead to further adjustments of the method and of the way we implement it. Technical adjustments can include the type of green manure, choices of crops or ways of seed production. We capture the results of these sessions and clearly show what we have learned and what adjustments we make.

10. Presentation of the 4 Pillars to the Ministry of Agriculture

In the second year, we expect to have gathered a lot of data to show specific results. We hope to indicate what the method can mean for the agricultural practices across the country. Our ambition is for the 4 Pillars to be used in national policies.

11. Collaborating with our trustees about the vision and short-term action plan

At the end of each year, we have a formal meeting with our trustees for feedback, evaluations, and planning. At the end of year two, we hope the method has been adjusted to the local conditions so that it can be fully applied by the poorest families. We will ask our trustees to evaluate this, their views will be the base for developing a long term vision and strategy for the 4 Pillars, and our role within the project.