Poverty Series Part Two: Sustainable Change Model – Sazani Associates Addressing Poverty

Building on the work from our focus on poverty, and previous series of poverty blogs we continue our new series on practical approaches to tackling poverty with Dr Cathryn MacCallum, Director of Sazani Associates explaining how Sazani works towards sustainable development and poverty reduction in Wales and Zanzibar.


Sazani Associates (Sazani), is a Wales and Zanzibar based NGO that has been working in Wales and the Zanzibar archipelago for more than 10 years. Sazani has piloted and expanded a reflexive and critical approach to supporting the development of sustainable livelihoods through education and training in Wales and Zanzibar.

This has involved:

  • Contextualizing learning in schools, in Technical & Vocational Education & Training (TVET) and in basic skills development to embed global learning and sustainable development into respective curricular.
  • Building the capacity, capability and competencies of the education and community sectors to foster sustainable change.

In Zanzibar this has been in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training and in Wales in partnership with Local Education Authorities, youth projects and WEA Cymru.

Socio-political Context
Wales and Zanzibar are semi autonomous states, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and United Republic of Tanzania respectively and share similar governance structures. Both are also small states with a combination of rural and urban poverty and a heavy dependence on tourism.

Zanzibar differs in that, as a small island state within a relatively small geographical area[1].

Rural people in Zanzibar remain in extreme poverty despite extensive growth in tourism. Instead of benefitting rural economies, tourism competes with local subsistence activity drawing on many assets of the poor – knowledge, natural resources and rural space, while impacting negatively upon their livelihoods and resilience in this vulnerable small island state.

Sazani’s Approach
In 2004 Sazani, as an implementing partner to the FAO: UNESCO Flagship project ‘Education for Rural People’, identified the priorities, achievements, challenges and constraints of education as a driver for poverty reduction and sustainable change in Wales and Zanzibar as part of a wider EU funded project with eight other countries across the global North and South (AlKanaan 2007, Al Kanaan and Proctor 2008).

Through this project it became apparent that unless learning and education was relevant to local realities and enabled exposure to different perspectives, it would achieve no more than what Freire would consider to be ‘information banking’ (Freire 1970, 1982) and not influence poverty reduction or sustainable development.

In contrast, putting people at the centre of their learning and development enabled a critical understanding of the values that influence choice, Sen (2001) acknowledges the centrality and importance of identity (Giroux 2012). Securing confidence to consider another’s perspective or situation resonated with the global learning emphasis on the consideration of ‘the other’ Andreotti  and DeSouza (2008), Bourn and Issler (2010) and Scheunpflug (2011) ,and consideration of multiple perspectives (Habermas 2004). Global learning, in this context presents a relevant response to challenging the ‘alterity’ and uncriticisably intense “Manichean theologizing of ‘the Other’. “ (Said 1983:291).

Drawing on these theoretical insights and our experiences Sazani developed a model for sustainable change, a theoretically grounded, practical model of engagement to develop the adaptive capability (MacCallum 2014) of people from a variety of settings.

Adaptive capability requires a view of the ability to bring about change, as something individual understood from a collective perspective. Expanding adaptive capability therefore requires collaboration and critical reflection from the outset as the process of collective change or agency contributes to shaping values influenced by different perspectives.

Sazani utilised global learning as a social learning process and an enabler of social change towards addressing complex problems such as the contemporary challenge of globalisation, climate change and sustainable livelihood strategies.

We demonstrated the relevance of focusing on assets to enable people to determine their strengths and build confidence to understand and address the barriers and constraints they encounter when attempting to influence and or access decision makers.

Creating a safe social space for a deliberative dialogue enabled participants to accept not knowing or understanding and to be able to learn from others.

The critical consciousness realised through such global learning actively challenges exclusion of that which is “other” and the notion that “what is fitting for us and what is fitting for them” (Said 1983: 15-16).

These collaborative interactions provide a starting point for a ‘critical pluralism’ (Said 2003) and the process of sustainable change.

[1] total land area of approximately 2,000 miles

Full references can be downloaded here


About the author: Dr Cathryn MacCallum has 25 years’ of international experience as a social scientist. She has developed integrated approaches to sustainable livelihoods and has provided extensive technical support and advice to poverty reduction and rural livelihoods projects in sub-Saharan Africa, MENA and the Caribbean. As an experienced and skilled social economist, she has undertaken work as both a freelance consultant and technical advisor to various international bodies, such as FAO, UNESCO, DFID, UNDP and the EU.

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