(Source: ICA Review, Vol.91 No.2 - Annual Report 1997-1998, pp. 38-40)
4. Regional Office for East, Central and Southern Africa (ROECSA)
The political, economic and social reforms in the countries of the region reached a maturity phase by 1997. The impact of structural adjustment and other reforms became more pronounced than in previous years. The social conditions invariably worsened partly as a short-term consequence of the reforms but also because of high population growth rates, low levels of technology and the adverse effects of the El Nino phenomenon.
The majority of secondary and national level co-operative organizations whose survival in the new environment was always under threat, finally succumbed and folded. The primary societies on the other hand used 1997 to better reposition themselves. The savings and credit co-operatives continued to be the fastest growing sub-sector. The year saw renewed interest in co-operative housing.
Relations between co-operatives and the state improved further. The trend was away from control and patronage towards partnership. All countries had their co-operative laws and policies under review and two of them passed new co-operative Acts as well as Co-operative Policies.
Representation, Policy Dialogue and Member Relations
ICA has twelve members in the region. No new members joined during 1997, but contact was maintained with Rwanda, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa. Expansion in membership was hampered by the weak economic situation of potential members in some cases and poor structure and organization in others. Two organisations ceased to be members during the year as they could not meet the obligations of membership.
The Regional Director attended Annual General meetings of four member organizations. The AGMs were useful in strengthening ties between the Regional Office and the leadership of the member organizations. In addition, contacts and negotiations were held with governments and partners on such issues as resource mobilization, policy, legislation, and future plans. The result of these activities was a determination on the part of the Regional Office to strengthen relations with member organizations, sharpen its focus and to enhance relevance the relevance of its activities.
A workshop was held from 7 to 9 October 1997 in Dodoma to clarify, analyze and share experiences of the co-operative movement in Tanzania under structural adjustment. At the end of the workshop, co-operative managers and leaders understood the new environment better, including the threats and opportunities that it offers. They also agreed on future strategies.
A number of studies were carried out and their results published. A draft manual on Structural Adjustment Programmes and Co-operatives in Zambia was prepared. It is hoped that lessons can be drawn from the Zambian experience and that it can be useful for co-operatives and development partners elsewhere.
A study and report on the direct marketing of coffee in the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania was finalized. The report analyses the realities of coffee marketing and suggests alternative marketing and production strategies so as to increase returns to the farmer.
A pilot study covering Zambia and Malawi was started with the aim of proposing a strategy to enhance the participation of the youth in co-operatives. The report will be a key input in the proposed Youth Project for the region.
Work was started on the preparation of a Project Proposal on Gender. A related activity was the preparation of Guidelines for Gender Impact Analysis to help co-operatives assess the impact of their ongoing and planned activities from a Gender Perspective.
The Regional Office collaborated in its work with a number of national, regional and international agencies. There was very close collaboration with the ILO COOPNET/COOPREFORM Programmes on HRD activities and Co-operative restructuring initiatives. The Office continued to supervise projects for the Royal Norwegian Society for Development (NRD/NORCOOP) in Tanzania. The Regional Office initiative in South Africa was fully paid for and supported by the Canadian Co-operative Association. Visions in Action (VIA), an American NGO, provided a volunteer. The Swedish Co-operative Centre through ICAHO remains the main development partner of the Office.
Workshops, seminars and conferences were organized within the framework of HRD as well as sectional services. An ICA Housing seminar was held alongside the ICA Board Meeting in Kampala, Uganda. The Co-operative Development Policy course was held at the Co-operative College, Moshi, and brought together thirteen paying participants from seven countries. The Regional HRD Committee met.
Internal Management and Democratic Processes
The statutory meetings held during the year were the Regional Executive Committee and the Regional Council. Two technical meetings were held as well. The Regional Co-operative Development Coordinating Committee was held to monitor implementation of Ministerial Conference decisions. Two Planning and Consultation Meetings discussed and agreed on future Regional Office work plans and Budgets.
The Insurance Project based in Gaborone, Botswana, stopped operations as at 31 December,1997, following a change in ICMIF development strategy.