SWOT: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats…
As part of the monitoring report, a SWOT (Strengths/ Weaknesses/ Opportunities/ Threats) matrix was prepared to provide a quick summary on influences on the Kastom Garden Program at the time.
SWOT analysis is a technique widely-used in development assistance and business circles to provide an overview and discern trends in a project or organisation.
Information brainstormed and entered into a SWOT matrix can provide points to explore later. The brainstorm process can throw up unexpected factors, especially considering it is a shared, participatory process.
The strengths of the KGP were found to include:
- a trained, motivated staff
- technological, managerial and administrative capacity
- a practice of learning from experience
- a positive reputation gained through quality of work
- training provided by APACE staff when they were in-country
- a readiness to try and to assess new techniques and approaches
- the participatory implementation of the agricultural training program
- the availability of overseas expertise (such as Brazilian community worker Liliana Peres and the Seed Savers Network in Australia)
- improvement made to administrative procedures
- the existence of the Memorandum of Understanding with Sasamunga Community Hospital covering cooperation with the hospital in the delivery of training in subsistence food production and nutrition as part of the hospital’s Primary Health Care Unit.
The KGP experienced a number of weaknesses including:
- staff were frequently overworked
- limited staff time limited what could be accomplished
- adequate but limited managerial capacity; this could have slowed any expansion of the programme unless augmented
- a relative shortage of staff at the project centre in Honiara.
Staff knew that the existence of opportunities did not imply that there would be sufficient resources to take advantage of every one.
Opportunities would be characteristically be assessed as to their viability, given the capacity of the program. Those found to be viable would then be prioritised if the decision to move on them was made.
Opportunities identified included:
- cooperation with the Solomon Islands government’s new agricultural policy; little eventuated from this
- the possibility of generating a small volume of cash income through the sale of produce grown at the Honiara project centre; this was not followed up in a structured way due to limitations on staff time
- seeking cooperative arrangements with medical and other institutions; this proved successful
- a possible waste-to-resource project based on the conversion of organic wastes at the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education in Honiara; nothing came of this.
The idea of generating small amounts of cash from farm gate sales was trialed when Australian development worker, Emma Stone, spend several months with the program in 1998. Although sales were made and the potential to produce vegetables and eggs for sale at Honiara Central Market was considered, it was a lack of staff time which made the option unviable.
The waste-to-resource project – essentially a green waste composting operation – failed to materialise when the person behind it moved to another island. Enquiries were successfully made in Australia about finding expertise to advise on the project.
Threats are those factors which could close down or severely limit the program.
Frequently, threats will come from outside the program and staff will have no opportunity to influence the threat. Sometimes, however, threats can come about through the worsening of a weakness within a program.
The identification of threats can lead to the development of contingency plans in case the threat materialises.
Threats facing the KGP were identified as:
- funding shortfall, resulting in loss of staff
- hostility from a highly-places, senior public servant.
Funding shortfall at times threatened the curtailment of program activity, but sufficient funds were found to continue. The KGP entered a more stable period of funding when APACE obtained programme agency status with AusAID which provided more flexibility in the deployment of funds.