Rural roads are often treated as the last link of the transport network. Despite this, they often form the most important link in terms of providing access for the rural population. Their permanent or seasonal absence acts as a crucial factor in terms of the access of rural communities to basic services such as education, primary health care, water supply, local markets and economic opportunities.
By understanding this crucial role of public infrastructures including rural roads, MVIWATA in collaboration with government authorities is organizing trainings on social accountability monitoring (SAM) to smallholder farmers. The trainings are a means to facilitate farmers through their grassroots networks to act as change agents in advocating for proper implementation of public infrastructures like irrigation schemes, rural roads, health and market centres to mention few.
In Ludewa district, Njombe region in the southern highlands of Tanzania, road deterioration due to lack of regular maintenance has become a growing issue in a number of wards and villages. The problem has been discussed at length by farmers’ grassroots groups and networks and the results of a lack of regular maintenance have been well defined and quantified. Nevertheless, the extent of the problem is not fully appreciated and the solutions are still not commonly understood. Equally, the measures required to rectify the shortcomings are under-estimated.
As a result of trainings and follow-up meetings conducted by MVIWATA on social accountability monitoring (SAM) or O and OD for and by farmers’ groups and networks of MVIWATA in Milo, Mapogoro and Mavala villages, and in collaboration with governmemt authorities including a ward councilor Mr. Robert Njavike, and village officers and meetings held at village levels, a road connecting the three villages has been constructed and repaired in some of its parts.
This has been due to the follow – up made by farmers’ groups and networks on the rural roads projects in Ludewa districts. The accessibility of this road throughout the season has influenced positive changes in the three wards, notably better price for farmers’ crops, accessibility of social services (health and education) and other economic opportunities.
Social Accountability Monitoring (SAM) is an advocacy strategy used by MVIWATA to influence activism among farmers’ grassroots networks in defense of their interests in all aspects of life. This strategy has proven to be useful and reliable given the impacts it has in areas where farmers’ groups and networks members of MVIWATA in collaboration with government authorities have applied and executed. The SAM strategy aligns with MVIWATA’s strategy; “the defender of a farmers is a farmer”.