Does Cascading Training in Development Work?

From outside the tin-roofed schoolhouse come the loud whispers and barely-hushed giggles of the girls and boys who jockey for best position at the door and windows.  On this breezy summer day at the top of Mt. Elgon, Uganda, the children are peering in at their mothers (and fathers), who are sharing how recent business and leadership skills training they’ve completed has made a positive impact on their families.

There is a saying that “if you train a woman, you train a village,” and this is certainly true on this coffee-growing mountain, where two organizations—Women in Informal Empoyment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) and the Gumutindo Coffee Cooperative have teamed up to offer trainings that help 800 women address the fact that many women producers in Uganda remain unaware of  their rights, are largelyunrepresented in consultations and policy forums, and are under-represented in governance structures. Many still lack information on market opportunities and knowledge of marketing and market requirements. There is a need for increased recognition of women as skilled workers who make a significant contribution to their household and national economies. And, laws and policies aimed at promoting women’s equality and securing access to assets such as land and credit are rarely implemented.

The training WIEGO and Gumutindo is offering is helping to reverse these trends –and one of the biggest reasons for its success is the “Cascading Training” approach.  It works like this: a small group of experts are trained in each organization; they train local facilitators, who in turn train women in their own communities.  The trainings respect organizational, economic and cultural realities and can also be translated into local languages.

And that’s only the beginning. This method of knowledge sharing creates sustainability beyond the life of the project, so women can continue passing along the skills.

But, in song and words, the women themselves best explain how thirsty they are to learn, how the training is changing their lives, and how much they are looking forward to more training through 2015:

By Elaine Jones

Elaine Jones

Elaine Jones is WIEGO’s Global Trade Director

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