IKATU – Raising awareness: environment and nutrition workshops for women’s committees
As previously explained, Fundacion Paraguaya’s IKATU project is one of their most important undertakings, if not THE most important one. It is what gives their microfinance practices the triple bottom line effect, the IT factor to make Fundacion Paraguaya’s efforts more sustainable. With IKATU in place, economic development is demoted from its alpha position, as increased attention will be given to social and environmental improvements in the life of the members of the women’s committees.
Up until now, most of the capacity-building workshops that go along with each loan cycle related mainly to improving the women borrowers’ entrepreneurial skills: how to save, how to make a better business plan etc. With IKATU in the game field, these workshops will be complement with further educational information concerning the environment and nutrition. The environment is officially a key player in development practices since the 1987 Brundtland Report. With the incisive phrase of “[s]ustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” the environmental focus made its debut on a global level. What does that have to do with IKATU? Well, it is the underlying theme of IKATU: capacity building in 6 categories:
- Income and Employment
- Health and Environment
- Housing and Infrastructure
- Education and Culture
- Organization and Participation
- Self-awareness and Motivation
As part of the IKATU team, I am currently working on writing the guides and presentations for the loan officers so that they can give the appropriate capacity-building workshops to the women’s committees in the future. The focus will be on
- Healthier eating habits (ex.: 1kg of sugar/week/person – a quantity identified by a short IKATU survey - will speed up tooth decay), as well as
- The immediate environmental concerns, with a focus on better waste management (ex.: burning containers that contained cleaning products may give off toxic fumes).
The best part about this project is that I will be giving some of these capacity-building workshops since IKATU is still in its pilot phase where we work and learn with 5 women’s committees. So far I have given 1 mini presentation on the direct effects of the poor waste management observed in a specific community and look forward to standardizing this information in a guide format.
Yesterday I also tested out 3 recipes from a Nutrition Guide that contains recipes using local Paraguayan ingredients. The purpose was to see how easy and tasty these dishes would be before using them in a workshop with them women’s committees. The entire microfinance department (incl. the interns) were invited for lunch at the interns house yesterday. Although many of the people had never tasted a bean-burger (many Paraguayans have meat at every dish), the experimental lunch was a success, although not perfect: slight alterations to the recipes will be made !
P.s.: A post on the agricultural school’s microfranchise project will come, as promised.
 In an attempt not to sound like an armchair philosopher, when I refer to “improvements” I am strictly referring to lifestyle advances that concern the basic physical needs of people: health.