Rapid attention response

Variations in Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) Practices: An Assessment of Dynamics and Impacts in Zomba and Mangochi Districts – Titukulane Project

This assessment investigates variations in the practices of Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) in Zomba and Mangochi districts. While the VSLA model has been transformative in promoting financial inclusion and community empowerment in rural areas, there have been noticeable deviations from the CARE VSL methodology, commonly referred to as the standard methodology. With Titukulane's support for these VSLAs, it becomes imperative to comprehend the reasons and implications behind these changes.

The rapid assessment was instrumental in understanding the VSLA practices across selected districts. Qualitative data on the VSLA methodology variations were randomly drawn from 8 out of the 19 Traditional Authorities (TAs) where Titukulane is implementing interventions. Within this sample, the assessment encompassed diverse voices from VSLA members, Community Development Agents, Village Agents, and Titukulane staff. The research utilized a rapid assessment approach to gain a comprehensive overview of the VSLA practices in Zomba and Mangochi in a time-efficient manner. This methodology was chosen for its ability to capture immediate, relevant insights without necessitating the extended time frame typical of more intensive research methods. The rapid assessment prioritized direct interactions with participants, ensuring their experiences and perspectives were central to the data collected. This direct engagement proved invaluable, especially when exploring sensitive topics related to financial practices and internal group dynamics. Through this approach, the assessment aimed to offer a nuanced understanding of current VSLA practices and the motivations underpinning their variations. In the context of this study, variations refer to the distinct differences in approaches, outcomes, or practices observed among the groups, while deviations denote departures from the expected or standard methods prescribed by Titukulane, potentially indicating unique adaptations or challenges faced by certain groups.
Key Findings: VSLAs in both districts have adopted varied practices. Some VSLAs, for example, emphasize equal shares for every member, while others note disparities in contributions. Lending strategies, such as offering loans to non-members, also emerged, aiming to bolster financial inclusivity. However, such innovative strategies sometimes come with their own set of challenges, like difficulties in accurate record-keeping or financial strains from settling older debts using newer contributions. External influences, cultural beliefs, and regional dynamics also play key roles in these variations. Below is a complete list of the variations and deviations noted in the two districts:

• Shares and Savings: While some VSLAs continue to advocate for standardized shares per member to ensure equality, others experience disparities due to inconsistent contributions. For instance, in some groups members are allowed to purchase more than 5 shares at a time, with some purchasing up to 100 shares.
• Loan Practices: Innovative loan practices, including lending to non-members, aim to enhance financial inclusivity.
• Documentation and Record-Keeping: Challenges in maintaining accurate records are pervasive, with different approaches to record-keeping observed.
• Emergence of Digital Financing Platforms replacing cashboxes: In younger VSLA demographics, there's a rising adoption of digital financing platforms, such as Airtel Money and TNM Mpamba. However, this shift poses challenges for older members, who are less familiar with digital technologies.
• Religious and Cultural Adjustments: Deep-seated religious beliefs influence some VSLAs to refrain from charging interest.
• Influence of External Entities: VSLAs display adaptability and responsiveness to external influences, including NGOs and community initiatives.
• Group Dynamics: Many VSLAs have larger membership counts than recommended, possibly reflecting community resource pooling. Read More...

Community-led Resource Mobilization & Early Warning Systems Process Assessment: Titukulane Project

This report examines the motivation and willingness of Village Civil Protection Committees (VCPCs) and communities to mobilize resources at community level for Disaster Risk Management (DRM). To do this, a participatory action research (PAR) approach was utilized, facilitated by SWOT analyses, in combination with focus group discussions (FGDs) and key informant interviews (KIIs). The findings revealed that communities had prepositioned resources to prepare for disaster response as part of risk reduction. Participants identified their ability to mobilize themselves as a community; to mobilize funds and food; well trained and knowledgeable structures, good agricultural practices, and good governance as major strengths. Opportunities for resource mobilization included enterprise, piece work (ganyu), irrigation farming, access to safety net programs, and youth participation. Weaknesses included the disorganization of some community structures, lack of support or political will from community leaders and the government, lack of accountability from VCPC members, and reluctance to adopt improved agricultural practices. Community-based early warning systems, although available, are insufficient to provide effective risk reduction for natural disasters. There is a lack of documentation concerning indigenous early warning systems, which impedes the development of effective and contextual strategies for risk reduction. The recommendations include increasing awareness among traditional leaders, defining resource mobilization structures, documenting guidelines and transactions for transparency, investing in early warning infrastructure and capacity building, documenting indigenous early warning signs, and intensifying watershed restoration and conservation to increase disaster preparedness. Read More...


Proyecto FORS Resultados de Encuesta de Satisfacción de Usuarios Atendidos por el ERR. Read More...

Filter Evaluations

Clear all