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Building true capacity: participatory development approach.

Community participation in the project conceptualization, implementation, and management is critical in enhancing development at the basic community level and an important tool for sustainable development. The implementation of CenRID's permagarden project resulted from several consultations with community leaders and other relevant stakeholders through a community readiness assessment. The community readiness assessment was the first step, and deliberately sought local views, indigenous knowledge, and the priority needs of the targeted beneficiaries to ensure cultural congruence and the use of local capacities. It was aimed at building important relationships, establishing open communication, and identifying common ground and common goals.
The second step focused on empowering the communities to take greater responsibility for their development. After completing intensive training, CenRID's permagarden education and management taskforce (PEMTs), working alongside small-scale farmers from the project sites, led the targeted households in the construction and management of the  

permagardens, an effort to reduce food insecurity and the associated micronutrient deficiencies and undernutrition. The PEMTs also facilitated community-based social and behavior change communication workshops aimed at narrowing, reframing, and eliminating food taboos, particularly applied to women and children. The project provided training to heads of households, community leaders, village health teams, and small-scale farmers in the form of training of trainers (TOTs), in addition to on-site training. The training manual was developed by CenRID with consultation from the community leaders. Sessions on healthy eating habits and optimal feeding practices focused on food classification, food myths and misconceptions, nutrients in food, balanced meal preparation using yields from permagardens, malnutrition and its prevention, and infant nutritional needs, among others.
The third and final step involved working together to ensure the success and sustainability of the project and its intended outcomes, respectively. With support from the CenRID staff, the PEMTs, small-scale farmers, and the community members, including the targeted households, continue to work together to ensure the maintenance of the permagardens, adhere to the recommendations to prevent infant and child malnutrition, and promote behaviors that break the cycles of disease transmissions.

Shaban Kaganda was one of the trained PEMTs that facilitated on-site training of the permagarden construction with the community members. Shaban holds a bachelor's degree in Agribusiness from Makerere University.

"The critical role I played in strengthening the capacity of the community members, through the on-site training, also helped develop my career as an Agribusiness professional. Exchanging information with small-scale farmers helped me gain practical skills in organic agricultural production, and food & farm safety, among others"

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