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Sustainable Program or No?

posted in: Impact, Partnerships, Travel 0

Today, as we’re thinking about different travel choices, we see more and more voluntourism, impact travel, and cultural immersion trips pop up. But how do you know if the organization you’re traveling with is a sustainably-minded program? KinoSol put together a list of a couple of things to look for to help you determine if a program is sustainable!

Program Evaluation

One of the best signals of a program’s long-term impacts is its evaluation system. Monitoring and evaluation is the system that tracks an organization’s progress toward its goals. Many times, you find this information on the company’s website, impact numbers reported, or annual reports.

Interview with local community member to improve the sustainability of our program
Interview with local community member 2018

For KinoSol, we rely on local partners to help us monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of our food dehydrators. We conduct regular surveys with people using the dehydrators. We look at the amount of food that the average user preserves, how many people directly benefit from having access to dried foods, and the amount of income generated through selling the dried outputs. This data gives us our impact numbers. We also work to evaluate the overall impact on the local community, trying to gauge the larger impact we can have!

As we begin scaling out our partnership program with Universities, we’re putting our evaluating system in place. We’re looking at the effectiveness of the curriculum, how student’s views on entrepreneurship change, and the impact they have in Ugandan communities. We collect this data through pre and post surveys with the students. You’ll be able to see these impact numbers later in 2020!

Long-term Strategy

Another critical component of an effective program is a long-term strategy. Programs with meaningful impacts in the community have a plan in place to phase out the program. If a program is effectively implemented, it resolves the problem it’s addressing, and the program is no longer needed. The community becomes self-sufficient!

KinoSol training with local community members 2019 to achieve sustainability
KinoSol training with local community members 2019

KinoSol’s long term strategy relies on local community ownership and a train-the-trainer model to achieve sustainability. As we work with communities, we engage with the leaders, training them on how to use the technology. After the initial training, we conduct 1-2 more follow-up trainings. This allows KinoSol to evaluate if the initial training was successful. We also learn how people are using the dehydrators, and answer any questions the community has. It’s a great way to get feedback and constantly improve our programming and product! Once the community feels well equipped, KinoSol’s help is no longer needed. The community is on its way to self-sufficiency and greater food security.

Affiliation with Credible Partners

Partnerships with organizations also point to credibility and sustainability. Programs that create meaningful change have partnerships with local community groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), or other universities.

Local partnerships with women’s groups, churches, or other organizations in the community, help demonstrate the local buy-in. This is vital to meet the local needs and respect values and customs. By working with local communities, you ensure sustainability, rather than imposing your ideas or projects onto the community. 

KinoSol Dehydrator Training Session with IDEAS Uganda
KinoSol & IDEAS Uganda Training 2017

KinoSol’s primary focus is on the local community and the partnerships we build within that ecosystem. KinoSol believes the best partnerships arise when food loss is identified by the community members as a problem. We then work with the community to introduce the food dehydrators. This leads to higher rates of adoption and long term sustainability of our program. That’s one of the many reasons we’ve partnered with IDEAS Uganda, bringing food security to communities in Kasese.

Sustainability is vital if we want to change the world for the better. If we don’t think long term, how can we help solve challenges likes food security? We hope this list helps you evaluate the sustainability of your next travel opportunity or program and gives you some insight into how KinoSol is sustainable!

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