Due to the nature of the target that UMWA serves, i.e. women and other marginalized groups, and the nature of programs run by the organization, e.g., ROP, the financial obligations are huge to sustain activities. However income received has continued to reduce though the project require heavy expenses in implementation towards transport and other coordination costs.
It therefore remains a great challenge to sustain these programs /activities. There are staffs to be paid, equipment to maintain and taxes to be paid. It therefore calls for strong sustainability plan that UMWA cannot continue running away from but strong measures need to be taken to ensure sustainability of these programs.
Expectations from the targets served
As UMWA continued to gain potential popularity in particular Mama FM, a lot of cases of social injustices keep flowing and people expect to be helped in one way or another.
Therefore following up these cases of injustice hinders the progress of work in a way that one is interested in getting to a point were some action is taken and this takes time otherwise you would not have been helpful to this expectant individual who has come in looking for alternative voice that is working towards getting concerns heard.
Quality of staff
There is inadequate human resource base to perform all the required activities of the organization i.e. manage, coordinate, fundraise and do program activities. In addition some vital skills needed are largely lacking e.g. skills in advocacy, fundraising, proposal writing and community mobilization. As a result some of the work is left undone, this in a way hinders progress in some areas e.g. research and continued monitoring of UMWA’s activities.
Donor dependency and short-term support
The heavy dependency of donor support is a major limitation to the organization’s activities. Some donations are short e.g. one year for just a one time event. There is therefore need to devise ways of sustaining the organization’s programs.
Despite the numerous appeals that the organization has made to relevant authorities, government has still not reduced or exempted MAMA FM of licenses towards broadcasting. UMWA has to pay a minimum of USD 5,000 in fees to government authorities to have Mama FM on air. The implementation costs therefore remain very high.
There is a high dependency on non paid staff who may not be obliged to perform. These pay more allegiance to places where they can be financially motivated. This is a great hindrance to the organization. There is therefore need to motivate the volunteers, so that they are committed to their work and the organization’s progress.
UMWA still lacks sustainable ventures to uphold its activities. It is therefore important to take into consideration measures that will enable the organization to sustain itself. The current trend is that lesser and lesser of donor facilitation is being given to NGOs, therefore UMWA needs to look at alternative ways of sustaining itself using the facilities that it already has for income generation. These include the radio station, the spacious buildings and compound, and the training centre and related facilities, among others.
Although UMWA went through a process of developing a five-year strategic plan, this plan needs to be quickly operationalized so that the organization can effectively position itself with in the changing environmental and keep a hold of its niche. When this is done, it will also help UMWA improve to assess performance and therefore design strategies to improve on grey areas.
Working with communities especially women requires one to have extra patience. Women take their time and are bogged down with a lot of domestic obligation which limit their participation . The project implementers therefore have to use extra skills to deal with these consistencies/slow responses.
Some of the key challenges that UMWA seeks to address include the following:Women’s issues in the media are still treated as second class.
The capacity of women in the media and those involved in information management is still low.
Women’s participation in the decision making process.
Women’s access to the utilization of information.
Women’s awareness about their rights.
Women’s presence in the media.
Since its inception, UMWA has contributed to addressing the above challenges through its rural outreach program, which has established women’s radio listenship groups and provided them with radios. This has enabled the women listen to issues of concern to them and been able to give feedback through UMWA. Thus has to some extent ensured women’s participation in information generation for the media.
We have also used our media outlets The Other Voice and Mama FM as a forum for discussion. It has helped reduce the gap between marginalized groups and policy makers.
UMWA uses several other strategies like public awareness campaigns, road shows, communication strategies on topical issues and issues of concern, documentation and concentrated media attention on an issue for a period of time among other methods.