Making progress to leaving no-one behind

By Benedicto Hosea – Project Leader

“I did not know how to adopt the best farming methods until I found other farmers benefiting from improved and sustainable farming run by Mboni ya Vijana (MVG) at Zeze. The farming results registered by MVG’s beneficiaries in 2016/2017 farming season, encouraged me to adapt modern and best farming practice to increase agricultural yields for my family’s food and income and I have now changed my attitude to farming. My maize farm gives me happiness and health and my family is getting enough food and income this year from my farm crops. I have never been able to have good maize farm like this I have this year.” This is the narrative by Steven when I visited his maize farm in February 2018. Steven is a 27 year old married with 2 children. He is a peasant who has used traditional farming methods since he started farming at the age of 16. He has never harvested more than 2 maize sacks per acre but this year he is going to harvest more than 16 after his sustainable farming training and isupport from MVG.

Yudesia is an old female aged 60 living with 2 grandchildren and her husband. Before MVG started supporting her she was unable to feed them or send them to school due to poor agricultural production. She now says; “I have never seen good maize like these of this year. The training I got on sustainable farming and farming implements such as improved seeds and fertilizer are making a huge difference to all our lives. I am going to harvest huge maize that will help me and my family for all the next year.” As the farm looks, Yudesia is likely going to harvest between 15 and 24 sacks of maize in April 2018 from the acre on which she has previously been harvesting less than a sack of maize in a year.

Hwago is a married man with the family size of 9 persons. He is managing 1 acre with better farming methods as directed to by MGV. Hwago is pleased to have that opportunity which he has never got for 42 years of his working on farming sector. Field visit made by Mboni ya Vijana Group to monitor clients progresses, reached Hwago and his feelings toward the scheme and his farm been these; “I am older enough I have many experiences in farming at Zeze. I have never had good farm like this despite that it is attacked by armyworms. I have no one children went to Secondary School because I have not financial ability to do that. To get food only for my family, needed me to work to someone’s’ farm and get paid for food. I hadn’t enough time to work on my farm than paying labour to other small farmers. Even the small scale I managed, I harvested very little to support my family. Good luck, this year I am proud of this scheme. I have not yet harvested but I have much courage to succeed like other who have succeeded in the last spell. The reality is that, we are not the past but we are the new generation.” Hwago said.

Ibrahim Ashery is a single young man aged 22 years old benefiting with sustainable farming managing one acre under the scheme. He is very well focussed to change his life before having a marriage through agriculture. Here is his story; “I am still a young man and I have not went even to school for secondary education because of my parent’s income poverty. I cannot compete for formal employment than competing in agricultural production and business. I am very luck that we have this sustainable farming scheme at Zeze and I am the one among other beneficiaries. I am changing my life and my future family. The training and farming implement support I get from Mboni ya Vijana, is the complete liberation. I am sure, I am no longer absolute poor but I am the next farmer’s leader.” Ibrahim stated. His farm is very good with maize and he expects to expand it in the next farm season if he is blessed to best health.

It was difficult matter to understand the opportunities in Agriculture before the interventions made by MVG to impact farmers” was the statement Felis made when visited at his farm and asked how he considers the scheme. “Last year I was supported in improved farming methods education and implements to maintain one acre. I harvested 18 sacks of maize from which I sold 10 sacks with the price of 78,000 TZS per sack. I made money worth 780,000 TZS while remaining with 8 sacks for food. Before the scheme, I had the ability to make 230,000 TZS only from agriculture. From there, I recognized that agriculture is the only employment that can give me better life. I have expanded my farm from 1 acre to 4 acres this year which I am with improved farming techniques. I am sure I am going to build my house and start new business from the yields of this year. Felis is just a 22 years old man born and living at Zeze village who got married after the first harvest in the last year.

Improved Small Scale Farming (ISSF) scheme is becoming popular at Zeze village and Kasulu district as well following its impacts to the community. Many people are adapting to its strategy to make difference in their lives from the lessons learned from the scheme. Instead of being supporting maize farming only, the scheme is embarking as well on beans and sunflowers production so as to expand the rooms for clients to run business farming and improve their families’ ability to meeting both food and income demands.

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Supporting small farmer

Since we organized improved farming to Zeze society in Nov. 2017, we have supported small farmer who have managed 107 maize farms. The growth is promising and improved maize seeds, fertilizers and better farming methods training have been the key success. The goal is the future with no hunger in families.

Enable 500 Tanzanian youth to feed their families

Summary

We believe everyone has the right to life’s basics. A roof, enough food to eat, clean water to drink and the education needed to build a brighter future. What we take for granted can only be dreamed of by communities in extreme poverty such as Zeze. But his dream isn’t impossible. It doesn’t take years of research or huge multinational organisations. It only takes the hard work of MVG, the villagers of Zeze and your donation. Will you help us to bring life’s basic needs to the people of Zeze?

Challenge

Global warming has led to a reduction in rainfall in Zeze village. The subsistence farmers find it increasingly difficult to grow enough food to feed their families, let alone have a surplus to pay for medicine or school uniforms. 40% of children in Tanzania are stunted due to malnutrition. Working with the schools, we will select families in extreme need from this income generation project and enable them to grow cash crops such as tomatoes and watermelons.

Solution

We will provide access to a water source, irrigation materials and a seedling starter kit containing sunflowers, tomatoes, water melons and local nutritional crops to all families. We will provide initial horticultural and dietary training, together with weekly monitoring visits and a support group to ensure their crops grow well. We will also provide a guaranteed market for their crops, and entrepreneurship training on maximizing their income and expanding their business.

Long-Term Impact

We will enable 500 vulnerable families to generate an income, allowing them to ensure their children have sufficient nutritious food and uniforms to attend school. They will also be able to pay for health care when they need it, and to start rising out of the extreme poverty they are currently in.

PLEASE DO YOUR DONATION HERE

Water is the key to life!

WATER IS THE KEY TO LIFE!

Water is the key to life, particularly in a village like Zeze, Kasulu, in western Tanzania. Many people were forced to get their water from this dirty pond shared with animals. So using donated money we drilled a new bore hole by hand and constructed this new rope pump. This was a huge undertaking for the village. Many people thought we could not succeed. We drilled by hand for 6 long days through solid rock, but eventually reached water 13m down. We learnt how to weld metal and created this pump – everyone is very happy! Grace says “My family got water from the dirty pond and my children were often sick. I thank God that we can now use this new pump and it is so easy to use.” The village chairman says “I am so proud of what these youth have achieved! When I saw how slowly they were cutting through rock I thought they would never succeed to reach water, but I was wrong and the whole village congratulates them.

Now we have a reliable water source we can more easily water the seedlings we’re growing. We have already distributed the first batch of water melon and tomato seedlings and the sunflower seedlings distributed are almost ready for harvesting, leading to valuable income in each family. Petronella says “with the money I will get from my sunflower seeds next month I will be able to buy school uniforms for my children, so I am very happy!”

Climate change
Streams and ponds at Zeze and neighbouring places in Kigoma region are drying as the result of climate change leading to greater challenges getting water. MVG have drilled more than 9 water wells from which the communities are using the water for development.

Almachius is the Kasulu District Development Community Officer. He knows well how much of a challenge water is for the development of Kasulu community. He visited a number of water projects where MVG has drilled and installed pumps for community use, and told the community “We have a big problem with water and deforestation but today I say we are lucky that we have youth who have made an important revolution in the water sector with their hand drilled bore holes – as no doubt all of you can see! I am very impressed they have now set up a tree nursery and are supporting their community to protect the environment. I appreciate, the work they have done. We should all participate to protect and develop the scheme which they have established, for ourselves and our children”.

New hand drilled community water pump
New hand drilled community water pump.

Zeze Wind Power Workshop

Here at the Local Electricity Project, we are just settling down after returning from a busy two weeks in Zeze, Tanzania, where we hosted a workshop to explore different ways of generating electricity. This was done in collaboration with Mboni ya Vijana Group, and Tanzania Development Trust, who both do a lot of great development work in rural areas. MVG is an organisation based in Zeze, who aim to lead youth and the community to sustainable development by tackling issues such as extreme poverty, climate change and farming.

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Zeze is a small rural village in the Kigoma district of Tanzania, with no access to grid electricity. The population consists of approximately 8000 people, with the majority relying on subsistence farming. Due to lack of accessible electricity, residents face many challenges and rely heavily on kerosene lamps for lighting after dark, which can lead to health issues in children who use the lamps for studying. While some residents can afford small domestic solar systems, the cost is generally prohibitively expensive for most and so the aim of our workshop was to generate electricity using old electric motors and as much recycled material as possible

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Among those present were a number of locals who work with MVG on various projects in and around Zeze as well as a number of students from the Institute of Rural Development Planning. The 20 strong group were all from a range of backgrounds and everyone had a unique set of skills on offer, which made for four diverse groups with their own thoughts and ideas.

 

Assisting with planning, coordinating and everything else was Benedicto – the CEO and founder of MVG, who has made it his personal mission to improve quality of life for people in Zeze and beyond. The work done so far by Benedicto and MVG includes planting cash crops, farming honey and installing a number of water pumps around the village to improve access to water.

 

Our main aim was to inspire people to look for new ways to generate electricity using locally available materials and so all we took with us were some nuts and bolts, a few small motors and the L.E.One.

The L.E.One is a voltage regulator that takes AC or DC electricity and converts it into useable power for charging USB devices such as phones, power banks and lights. This means that it can be used with a number of different generators, such as solar panels or electric motors, which can be recycled from otherwise discarded e-waste.

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We made the L.E.One to be interacted with, modified and upgraded, and so a large portion of the workshop involved some basic soldering and a complete overview of all the circuitry sitting inside the box. Everyone was really keen to learn about electronics and assembling an L.E.One gave a total insight into how it works. Hopefully this can spark some inspiration for other electronics projects to come!

 

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We truly believe in empowering people to solve the issues that they face through hands on experience, and by learning from iterative design and testing. Therefore, the group were given clear guidance without providing detailed solutions to maximise creative freedom. Despite lacking access to tools and materials that most of us take for granted, the ingenuity of everyone involved was more than enough to overcome any challenges and we were constantly impressed by people’s ability to take an idea from conception to execution.

 

We started off the workshop by demonstrating the reversible nature of electric motors to power a light bulb, using the L.E.One to convert the fluctuating input voltage to a smooth 5V. The challenge was then set to create something to turn a motor by hand, and within minutes we witnessed a number of innovative methods of attaching handles to the motor shafts, all using only wood and nails.

After a brief introduction to the main components of a small-scale wind turbine, the next step was to cut and shape some lightweight blades using PVC pipe by following the instructions available here. Within no time, each group had crafted a unique set of wind turbine blades, and after fastening them together were able to see them spinning freely in the wind. All before the end of the first day!

 

The next challenge was then to fasten the blades to the motor and to start generating electricity. Important factors that were communicated here were precision and symmetry, as well as a general note that bigger blades = more power. Soon enough each group had created a hub after measuring and cutting some carefully selected wood found leftover from previous projects.

 

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The main problem was creating a hub that was well balanced and symmetrical. Groups made a number of different shaped hubs, employing a variety of techniques. After some careful experimentation, these were gradually improved over the course of the workshop to be stronger and more precise. This design evolution was a common theme over the time we spent in Zeze, with constant iteration to improve power, robustness and even aesthetics.

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Before we could even give an outline of the next steps, one group had already made a small wooden tower, secured a length of cable and fastened their handywork to the top. However they soon discovered that the direction of the wind is constantly changing, and so the next round of towers were made to enable the generators on top to pivot and seek the wind for maximum power.

The next enhancements included changing the shape, number and size of blades, with each new set yielding better and better results. This, in combination with stronger winds and taller, sturdier towers made for four solid wind turbines that were pretty much constantly spinning, so that we were able to power light-bulbs and charge phones using the LEOne.

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The rest of the time was spent ensuring that everything produced was durable and will withstand the elements. One of the biggest issues when dealing with wind power is strong winds that occur during storms which have the potential to cause damage. A hinged tail mounted at the right angle can protect a wind turbine from damage, but designing such a system is by no means simple. Once again, each group was able to take the basic idea and construct their own unique parts to achieve the goals set. They then assessed the effectiveness and were able to make adjustments as necessary. The winds in Zeze weren’t strong enough to perform any high speed tests, but the build quality of all the turbines produced gives us enough confidence that they would withstand the harshest of storms.

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Our entire stay in Zeze was nothing short of incredible. We were made to feel at home by everyone there and look forward to returning. We will be working closely with MVG in the future and look forward to seeing what new creative ways people come up with to generate electricity!

 

If you would to get involved with the Local Electricity Project, or want to know more about what we do, we’d love to hear from you! Visit our home page or contact us.

Putting Zeze on the map

zeze tanzaniaIt’s the rainy season in Zeze so everyone is busy in the fields making the most of the precious water to try and grow enough to sustain their families over the dry season. The unpredictability of the rainfall and lack of any storage is not without it’s problems.  The roads quickly turn to inpassable mud and malaria rates soar.
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There is one minibus per day into town.  Otherwise if you need to go to the bank, hospital or council office you have to go by motorbike, which gets harder when it rains..
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These 11 year old boys had cut grass for an hour and then carried it for a further hour, to sell it for the equivalent of 10p.

african communities tanzaniaThe womens’ microfinance group is going very well with small loans continuing to transform lives.  I spoke to Deniza, getting a loan to expand her tailoring business.  Unable to walk, her life was transformed by her bicycle, but others are not so lucky.  Amos can only go to school if he crawls or someone carries him..

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The secondary school laboratories now have roofs, but still no doors or windows.  I brought some simple science equipment such as springs and pH paper and so they excitedly did their first practical experiment – testing the pH of a local drink. Even the headteacher, a science graduate had never had access to indicator paper before.

If you look for Zeze on Google maps you will just see a huge empty space where there are hundreds of villages. So, using Epicollect+, a free app designed at Imperial College, London originally for mapping diseases, and donated tablets and phones we’ve been adding places of interest in Zeze and beyond to an online map here.  The idea is then to add it to Google maps and OpenStreetMap..

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our fundraising campaign.  We are using the money to purchase equipment for hand drilling and rope pumps, meaning we can dig water sources around the village for drinking and irrigation. If you would like to contribute you can do so here.

Helping Water Problems in Zeze, Tanzania with… an Ebay Pump?!

water problems in africaWater dominates life in Zeze.  Everyone conserves the little they have as obtaining it is so difficult – carrying it long distances to your home, queuing at the pump…  There is also the continual fear that another of the pumps will fail, making water even harder to obtain.  These are constantly breaking down.  When I visited in June only 5 were working, on my most recent visit in August, only 3 were working. There have been times when the whole village of 8000 people are down to 1 working pump.
solving lack of water in africaGenerally the problem is seals and bearings.   The local fundis (handymen) appear to be resourceful and show initiative, even to the extent of trying to make local parts where possible.  The water officials in Kasulu town 40 km away are less helpful, and frequently promise to help and visit but don’t.  They don’t stock any spare parts in Kasulu and say they order them from India when necessary.  One pump has been broken for over a year because pipes have broken off and fallen inside the well and there is  no equipment to get them out.

ebay water pumpSo Benedicto and his friends decided to fix this hand pump with a solar one I bought on ebay, courtesy of a generous donor and brought out in my luggage.  As the water is so deep (36m down) we had to run it at 24V on two car batteries.  Getting these was a mission in itself.  You can buy very little in Zeze itself so a
friend bought them in Kasulu and put them on a daladala (communal minibus) to drop them off at the junction 10km away where they were met by another
friend with a motorbike.  Unfortunately when they arrived they were suspiciously light… because they were empty of the necessary acid, meaning we had to repeat the process the following day with bottles of acid..

water pumps in africaWe’d spent a long time negotiating with drivers in Kasulu to bring the 1000l plastic tank on their roof.  The first one in the village, this was a great novelty.  Benedicto tracked down the one man in Zeze with a saw and proceeded to make a wooden structure to put the tank on.

Getting the right seals to fix the pipes was another challenge.  I’d brought out all the seals I thought we would need and we bought the only jubilee clips we could find in Kasulu, but in the end had to tie things together with old car tyre strips..

But finally, by torchlight, the pump, dry for over a year, started pumping water, to great cheers and excitement.  The pump isn’t really powerful enough for this. It takes around 5 hours to fill the tank and it can’t keep up with the demand for water.  The long term plan is to raise enough money to buy a heavy duty pump capable of filling the 1,000,000l tank that has been out of use since the 1970s..

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But, for now, the villagers are saved a long walk to a working pump…

Microfinance in Zeze

20150815_175617In August I spent a week in Zeze village and met the chair, vice chair and secretary of the microfinance group, as well as many of the women who have received loans.

I  also visited many of them in their homes and businesses and spoke to the Village Chairman, Village Executive Officer, and chair of MVG, who are running the scheme who all confirmed the positive impact the scheme is having on the village.

20150815_175301Petronia had her loan in May, thanks to a new injection of funds from Wabia. She buys palm oil from farmers in the fields and resells it in the market, making approx. £8 profit per week.  Recently her 8 month baby started excreting blood and she was able to take her to the doctors and buy medicine.  Without her business she said she would have been unable to do that.

Pendo buys petrol in large containers and decants it into litre bottles which she sells in the market and on the road.  Her profits mean that she is able to pay for her son, who was unemployed, to study to be a mechanic.

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Edita received her loan last month.  She is making bible covers for 80p that she sells for £1 in Kasulu, the town 40 km away that she visits twice a week.  She had sold 40 to a shop there the previous day.  She is saving to purchase a second sewing machine so her husband can also make them at the same time.  She also wants to branch into mpesa (mobile money)

Josrene had an initial £18 loan which she repaid,  then a £50 loan in May.  She collects maize and beans from farmers in the field and then grinds flour and then sells in bulk to buyers from Kigoma.  She is saving to build a bigger house for her family with larger storage capacities as she wants to sell wholesale directly in Kigoma in the future.

20150818_173509Godliva had a second loan in June.  She also sells beans and maize, but also soap. She gets a profit of 80p  per box for this.  She is saving money to get a soap factory so she can make her own soap.  This would cost £120 but she estimates it would bring her “20 a week profit.

What was generally striking was the pride with which the women talked about their businesses.  They have noticeably grown in confidence since I met them in January, and have a higher status in their family and in the village as a whole. Originally I was told that there was resistance from some men in the village, concerned that women getting loans would be a threat to their authority.

20150818_180652Now the same men ask Benedicto when their wives can get a loan.  It was touching to see a number of the women working closely with their husbands as partners in the business, whereas previously they worked much more separately. This appears to have had a positive effect on their relationships, which was confirmed by the women themselves. In the training women were told “Don’t use your loan to exploit your husband, rather money should be a tool for strengthening the love in your family”.   They seem to have taken this to heart!

Bringing Broadband to Zeze School

20150817_220310School life in Zeze is rather different from the one I remember.  For a start, most pupils walk for over an hour to get there.  They also have to carry water with them to clean the school  as there is no water source nearby.  Their parents are subsistence farmers who struggle to provide them with food and uniforms.

There is no electricity in the village and kerosene is expensive, so they struggle to study after dark.  So Benedicto, TDT’s enterprising local representative has set up student study groups.  Each group of 5 students was given one solar light, cost £4, which they share to study at night. Students are extremely ambitious.  They realise that doing well at school could be the only route out of poverty for themselves and their families.

There are very few text books in the school, and none for research or further reading, so when I visited in June I brought a raspberry pi computer with downloaded content such as Wikipedia and Khan Academy videos on it.  As there is no electricity in the school they run this from a portable battery which they recharge in the headteacher’s house which has solar panels.

But now Zeze has the opportunity to have a free satellite broadband installation, courtesy of funding from the UK Space Agency.  Very few of the students have ever left the village.  There are no female staff. The headteacher, Mr Mabhuye is very keen for the  girls to have successful role models to boost their confidence.  He is also keen to develop links with schools in the UK to expand their horizons and share ideas.

However there is a catch.  They need to install solar power in the school by the end of September in order to order to benefit from this offer.  At a cost of £780 this is way beyond the scope of the school. If you would like to contribute to this project you can do so here.  All donations gratefully received.

Investing in honey production in Zeze village

Transforming rural lives with bees..

I first met Benedicto by chance in September and was very impressed by the cooperative he founded and his meticulously costed plans to avert poverty in his village by developing agriculture.  I returned to Zeze this week and spent two nights in the village finding out more.

Zeze is 41km from the nearest town and electricity supply.  Water is problematic.  Almost all of the inhabitants are farmers growing maize and beans, with an average annual income per family of around 300,000 shillings (£112).   This explains why many of the children have ragged clothes and no shoes.

Benedicto and his group have many plans to raise income, including growing more lucrative crops such as Moringa.  Currently his immediate concern is to put in hives before March 15th when the bees begin to swarm. He has worked out that by sourcing the wood from one farmer and carrying it on foot to the local fundi he can get the hives made for around £20 each.  He estimates each hive will generate 30 litres of honey and he has already found buyers willing to buy in bulk.  Therefore when he harvests in October he should be able to make a good profit that can be used to support projects in the village.

His problem is capital.  He has identified

150 good sites for hives. Currently he has funds for 15 hives.  He would like to set up at least 40.  Therefore he is offering anyone who invests £20 in a hive now a return of £25 in November when the honey is sold.  That’s a return on investment far better than your bank, and a good cause to boot..

If you would like to invest in a hive in Zeze village, or to know more about this project please email j.chapman@tanzdevtrust.org.