Training session of Development Committees (DCs) of Anglophone Provinces in Africa.


Kampala 01BBy Jos Kuppens, M.Afr

I was asked to try and record in the form of an article what we have been going through here in Kampala, close to the place where young Kizito, Charles Lwanga and  companions and  Mapera were walking, praying, suffering and gave their life.

So, what to start with? The reality that we as a group of missionaries are slowly living on our reserves to survive? A bit like sheep in winter, having eaten all summer and having built up reserves the sheep will, to a large extent, live on these reserves in winter. Or that in quite a few communities we are able to take care of ourselves using the income produced by our various ministries? Or the initiative of raising rabbits in the community where I live (they do multiply as rabbits!! following a now famous quote). Or the last Chapter where our confrere capitulants raised the alarm on the fact that we need to ensure that we can continue our mission well into the future by becoming proactive in looking for resources and start Income Generating Projects (IPGs).

Our last Chapter charged the General Council to look into Income Generating Initiatives / Projects for the society. Not that nothing was ever done in this regard. We have had initiatives that were mainly centred in the Northern Hemisphere. More recently we have had some initiatives in Africa that operated on a trial and error basis, while some were quite successful. But more often than not the enthusiasm about starting such projects was high but was not matched by corresponding success rates. Hence the need for a more professional approach. Thus the calling into being of a team of confreres (mainly treasurers) who worked with experts in the field of Project Management for Income Generation Projects. They produced a book of guidelines to steer our Income Generation Projects on a more professional course. Using this resource book (Guidelines for ), about 20 of us coming from various Anglophone Provinces in Africa were ‘workshopped’ into the rather complex matter of the Income Generation Projects cycle, using the concrete example of construction of hostel.

The Three phased approach

We were taken through three different phases. They seem very logical and simple. Planning, Implementing of plans and operating the result of our effort: the planned building. In the diocese where I am now the Christians have decided to start a project to build a cathedral. They have decided to do it professionally. The workshop in Kampala has helped me to understand a bit better what it means to work professionally to construct a building as it did for all the participants.

Phase one

What is it that we are supposed to do? All together as missionaries of Africa we need to wake up to the fact that things are not the same as they used to be. At all times there seemed to be enough funding to do our work, to train our candidates, to venture into new missionary challenges. Well, that time is definitely finished.  So all of us are asked to do the needful, like: budget, implement budgets, raise funds to meet the shortfalls, generally to live more according to our means.

So this common effort will underlie all of the other efforts for which the society has now put in place Development Committees, at the level of the Sectors and the Province, with, in the future, a coordinating office in Rome.

The Sector Council will appoint two members to the Sector Development Committee (SDC) to work with the confrere who is part of the provincial development committee and participated in the training. In order to help all of us in our Sectors to be part and parcel of this process, some mini seminars will be organized at the occasion of Sector Assemblies. This will assist in understanding the basics of managing IGPs and in finding some of the opportunities and potential ideas for IGPs. This will help the SDCs to identify some projects in their Sector. These should be developed up to a point where it will be clear that the eventual income is worth the investment. These committees will work on the following points:

  • Is the idea sound, has it been tried elsewhere; how does it fit in with our lifestyle?
  • What are the competitive advantages, its potential and uniqueness?
  • What are the project goals?
  • Who are the beneficiaries?
  • Map out the stakeholders/ competitors/ operators.
  • Point out the potential risks/ success factors.
  • Included a rough draft of what it will cost.

 The end result of this will be cast in the form of a Draft Concept Paper in which already some analysis is done and the project classification of the IGP is also determined. The Sector council will look at this concept, have its input and approve it to be sent to the Provincial Development Committee (PDC). There it will be examined and worked on further in order to send it to the Provincial Treasurer and Provincial Council.  They in turn will examine the draft concept and after deliberation (with some possible modifications) approve it to be sent to the General Treasurer and the Financial Council in Rome. Once reviewed, it will go to the General Council. The General Council will be the one to either approve the concept or shelve/ archive it.

If approved

They will give it the “Go for Plan” signal. We are speaking about potential projects between 150 and 500 thousand Euro.

In depth planning

It will now be the task of the PDC to go deeper into the planning stage. The GC will release a small budget to assist in the planning because it will involve hiring the expertise needed to do a professional plan.

In the ‘Go for Plan’ stage the already gathered information will be further worked out and new documents will be added. One of the main ones is a Business Plan, which includes a market survey and financial projection. Ownership, administration, organization are mapped out. Risks are analysed.   A detailed explanation of all this can be found in the new guidelines. All these preparations are done to give the PC, Treasurer General and his Financial Council and the GC all the tools they need to actually give the final go ahead or shelve it. As one can see little or nothing is left to chance.

The ‘Go / or No Go’

Kampala 02CFirst of all the decision will be published. If the project is approved a project team is setup. Accounts are created. A project structure is elaborated. A project manager may be appointed. (Sub)-Contractors will be found. Contracts will be negotiated. All this is then submitted to a thorough scrutiny which in the planning lingo is called a ‘quality gate’. If it passes here the project is now ready for Phase 2: the implementation stage.

If the decision is ‘no go’ all results are archived, all activities and accounts are closed. Documentation submitted to GC.

Phase two: the implementation stage

Most likely the Project Committee will now become the Management Committee. They are responsible to see to it that the Project Manager has all he needs. Legal experts may need to be involved. Risks need to be shared equally between contractors and MAFrs. Sub-contractors will agree to delivery dates, work out more concrete plans. Efforts are made to create a good understanding between all those involved so they communicate properly and at regular intervals.

It is now important to control the project. The actual versus planned status of the project is regularly worked out. This includes use of resources, use of budget. In all this the Project Manager, (Financial Manager, Quality and Risk Manager, if needed for the project) and the Project Management Committee divide the work.

Reporting up to the Treasurer General is required when the variance of actual expenditure with the budget exceeds 10 %. When the project has been finalised all accounts are closed.

The last ‘quality gate’ is the handover of the finished project (building, hostel, etc.) to the operator who has been identified already even in Phase 1.

 This leads us to the Third Phase which is the operation of the project.

Phase Three: successful operation of the project

The final points that need attention are shared with the Operational Team. All documentation is also shared with them as well as technical know-how such as maintenance schedules and warranties. The Management Committee and the Operational Committee visit the site together and finally the handover can be done with some sort of celebration.

The Provincial Treasurer will now be in charge of supervising the operations but may delegate the Provincial Delegate or the Treasurer Delegate. Now on a yearly basis the operational profit will for 80% go to the province, while 20% will be saved for maintenance and repairs.

Kampala 08BConclusion

The project journey has been painstakingly prepared, implemented and the success rate should be high. In other words our IGP guidelines are of a quality that should guarantee a good success rate. The future of our mission will in that way be better guaranteed than it is now. At the end of the workshop the participants in the workshop were still apprehensive about the complexity of the whole cycle, but did give their wholehearted approval to the process and started already to plan how to implement it in each Province.

In the place, which is steeped in history and tradition of the best kind, the place of martyrdom of the martyrs of Uganda, the same Society of Missionaries of Africa that brought father ‘Mapera’ to Uganda, started charting a new course to support the very same Mission that was crowned by the faith of the martyrs.

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Project Cycle Meeting in Kampala

Lavigerie memorial day celebration in Malawi on the 26th November.


lavigerie-memorial-day-celebration-in-malawi-bBy Landry Busagara, Stagiaire.

Under the theme of “flourishing communities”, the M.Afr and MSOLA gathered at Chezi, about 50 km from Lilongwe, to celebrate the memorial of Cardinal Lavigerie, our Founder.

First, a recollection centred on the philosophy of Ubuntu, “I am because we are”, helped each one to recognise that our interdependence and interconnectedness as women and men missionaries is essential to our mutual survival.

Then, with the leadership of Jos Kuppens, we had a time of sharing on flourishing communities. We recalled the high-point life involvements we had in the past as missionaries; our best moments in partnership. We found that those exciting situations were so nice that we would like to live them forever. We saw that flourishing MSOLA and M.Afr communities are “positive, alive and life giving. They are inclusive, integrative and collaborative. They create space for everyone to connect with self, with others and the whole creation, with God. They respect and affirm the freedom of everybody to live in dignity, security, peace, harmony and solidarity.”

As M.Afr and MSOLA, we value a sense of common belonging when caring for each other. We mutually gain by being non-judgemental, positive and open minded. A welcoming spirit bring more unity, mutual acceptance and create occasions for sharing.

Flourishing communities of consecrated women and men as we are is best demonstrate around the table of the Lord through the Eucharistic celebration which actually ended the recollection. It was a moment of gladness for all the wonders of the Lord.

We ended our day by sharing some drinks and food, happy to sit side by side and being all children of Lavigerie.

SAP Provincial Council Meeting, Chipoka, Malawi 20th – 24th April 2015


The meeting took place at the newly built Chitsulo Lodge on the lake shore of Lake Malawi at Chipoka, 30 km south of Salima. The Lodge was built by the Diocese of Dedza as an income generating project which seems to be quite successful.

PC-Meeting-Chipoka-April-2015-14bThe meeting lasted four days between the 21st and the 25th April with a day break on Wednesday. Fr. Jos Kuppens inaugurated the first day with a condense session on Training For Transformation (TFT). The presentation of the ‘Pastoral Cycle’ was greatly appreciated. We should expect more commitments from Justice & Peace and Encounter/Dialogue in this field.

The eleven participants from all SAP Sectors worked intensively from 8:30 till 18:00 every day with a break between lunch time and 15:00.

Thanks to the Sector of Malawi which hosted the meeting.

Were present: Christopher Chileshe (Provincial), Timothée Bationo (First Councillor and Delegate Superior of Mozambique), Philippe Docq (Delegate Superior of South Africa), Oswald Mallya (Delegate Superior of Zambia), William Turnbull (Delegate Superior of Malawi), Michel Sanou (Councillor, Malawi), Richard Ujwigowa Bikerong’a (Councillor, Mozambique), Romaric Bationo (Councillor, Zambia), Raymond McQuarrie, (Councillor, South Africa), Karl Kälin (Provincial Treasurer) and Robert Tebri (Rector Lechaptois).

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Press statement for january 2015: Let us do something about poverty


Jos KuppensBy Jos Kuppens, M.Afr, Director of CfSC, Kanengo, Malawi

Recently it has been alleged that Malawi has been classified as the poorest nation. The report’s empirical analysis of poverty was based on income or consumption expenditure as a measure of wellbeing. But the weak correlation between income (or consumption) and welfare, means income may not be an all-encompassing indicator of welfare. Just as Amartya Sen urges, poverty measurements should go beyond income and look at other dimensions of wellbeing such as health, education, empowerment, freedom of association and so on. Income is often instrumentally important as a means of achieving other dimensions of wellbeing, but the other dimensions of wellbeing are intrinsically significant, and hence deserve recognition.

While many people were up in arms following such revelations, the nation needs reminding that the results of this recent report somehow tally with previous ones. In 2013 a Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) study by Oxford University said Malawi needs at least 74 years to eradicate its poverty. The study measured reductions in multidimensional poverty, overlapping deprivations in health, education and living standards among others. The study concluded that “using this measure, it was found that reductions in intensity – the percentage of deprivations people experience at the same time – were strongest in relatively poorer countries such as Ethiopia, Malawi and Senegal”; and at the then rate of 50.7% reduction it would take Malawi 74 years to eradicate acute poverty.

In 2012 the results of the Third Integrated Household Survey (IHS3), showed that almost half of the Malawi’s population is poor, about one in every four poor lives in dire poverty and cannot afford to meet the minimum standard for daily recommended food requirement.

1 B ExtraAlready in January, the Rural Basic Needs Basket indicated that the average daily calorie intake for rural areas of Chikwawa, Dedza, Zomba and Lilongwe was at an average of 1169kcal; which is 1231kcal below the daily recommended calorie intake of 2400kcal by WHO and the situation was worse in Kasiya-Lilongwe, which stood at 970kcal per person per day. For the Urban Basic Needs Basket, the average cost just for the basic food items stood at MK77, 320 for Blantyre Lilongwe, Zomba, Mzuzu, Karonga and Mangochi; the highest was in Zomba at MK86, 783.

What this entails is that there are indications that many people in the country cannot afford a dignified life and others are trapped in dire poverty. So instead of denying these facts the country needs to wake up and do something about this dire situation. Instead of being angry at these reports the country needs to be angry enough to do something about it, so that it would no longer be defined as such in the near future.

Let us start with the current disaster in the lower Shire. Each year flood disasters occur in this region. There is need for proper planning and political will to manage it. It must be remembered that disaster risk reduction benefits the poor more than disaster management does. Many research reports in countries like India have shown that for every dollar invested in disaster risk reduction, between two and four dollars are returned in terms of avoided or reduced disaster impact costs. The country needs to increase investment in disaster risk management and climate change mitigation measures, such as canalization, winter cropping and IGA interventions as an effective ways to reduce the disaster vulnerability of the poor and thereby improve overall economic development. Invest in social services that improve social conditions, such as universal education, health, access to water and sanitation, thereby reducing the vulnerability of the poor and improving their capacity to respond to, cope with and adapt to disaster and poverty impacts more effectively. Surprisingly or not, those who were angry with the report were not the poor too busy to survive, but rather those who somehow work towards the eradication of poverty. Should they not also need to ask the question whether the Gross Domestic Product is divided among all Malawians with some degree of equity?

Death of Pierre Kuppens, brother of our confrere Jos Kuppens


Dear All,
This morning we received the sad news that Pierre Kuppens, Jos’ elder brother, has died.  He suffered a brain haemorrhage on Wednesday and passed away at about 9 o’clock.  Pierre leaves a wife and three grown children.  May his soul rest in peace.
Let us keep Jos Kuppens and his family in our prayers at this sad time.
Yours,
William Turnbull
Sector Superior-Malawi
Message sent on the 22nd February 2013