Donations matched 50% for next 5 days!

Ensuring everyone in Zeze community can feed themselves requires a long term plan to stimulate the development of agriculture and income generation. This report outlines the progress we are making with your generous donations.

Julias_Grid7Julias collecting water for his family.

Julias is 12 and in standard 6 of primary school. Since we built a new pump near his house he often collects water for his family after school. In traditional African villages like Zeze, women and girls are usually the ones to collect water and firewood. Julias is breaking down this stereotype. He says; “Now water is nearer our home, I don’t have to wait for my mother or sister to return from the farm to collect water. I know I have to support my mama, so I collect water when I return from school. My Mama is every day at the farm and she knows I support the family so she can work for longer at the farm and produce more food for us” Julias said.

Zeze villagers grow and eat beans, maize and cassava. This limited diet is not nutritious but people cannot afford to buy the better food they like. We have dug a fish pond to enable cheap fresh fish to be sold to the community, greatly improving their nutrition and reducing the current high levels of child stunting.

Boosting farming in Zeze requires irrigation systems and crop storage facilities.  With your donations we have managed to build an Agricultural Community Storage facility and tool loan scheme. We are now establishing irrigation schemes which will enable farming throughout the year and a wider range of crops.

Steven and Evarist are two friends who did not believe that water melons could grow in Zeze village. These guys are two friends who are training and doing carpentry with us. When we started planting water melons in July they were very sceptical. But after eating water melons for the first time. Steven says, “I agree now everything is possible if you get education and tolerance. I knew that the soil is dry, with no rainfall so how can water melons grow here? But now I appreciate them, they are sweet and very good to eat in this heat. I will be the next to grow them on my land” Evarist added “It is a business that requires a big heart, but I am very impressed to eat water melon here in the dry season”. The success of water melons is an important step in improving nutrition and income in Zeze.

Vedasto is a farmer who has adapted organic farming to increase his yields per area. He has planted a wide range of vegetables and has already harvested a bumper crop. He joined our environmental campaign to stop deforestation and slash and burn. “I have made a good profit and enough food from the plot of land which I have improved using compost from leaves and grass. I now understand how they improve the soil so I am the part of this campaign to stop people from felling trees and burning bushes”.

Leah is a mother of 6. Since her training and other support the productivity of her farming has greatly increased. I visited Leah’s farm and witnessed this success. She has grown maize and yams and she is happy with them as they are going to enable her family to eat well. Leah says, “I am a mother. Everyone in the family looks to me for food, school needs, and other domestic matters. Since I got improved farming training, I adapted it quickly. MVG supported me with education and seeds which have made a big impact to my life. I am sure after two months I will have enough food for my family but I will also be able to sell some surplus to others. I will be able to afford my family’s other requirements and to diversify my works” Leah said.

We have now established a Welding and Carpentry Workshop in Zeze to improve farming activities like fabricating hand hoes, water drilling and supplying facilities, crops storage trays and boxes, and enable youth to generate income that will be injected in farming and other family requirements. It will alsol train youth in the community and enable them to be self-employed.

Deus and Patrick are two friends who finished standard seven of primary school in September and are now waiting for their school results to see if they can continue their education. They have received advice and financial support from MVG for sustainable farming that has enabled them to buy better seeds. They are preparing their farm for maize and egg plants. Deus speaks for both and he says, “We don’t want to be lazy, the school has gone and the results are expectations. We can’t wait for then to plant”

Maria is a married woman with 5 children. She lives in Zeze and she too has received farming education and seeds from MVG. Her farms are well maintained and she expects better yields. Maria proudly showed us the plots of tomatoes and maize saying, “I wish all the villages should have kind people like you who are close to the people. I have never experienced crops like these since 1997. The land was completely exhausted and I was not expecting to improve it. I am sure I will get good yields because of the support I have received which will enable me feed my family.

We established Moringa Oleifera farms because this plant is extremely nutritious and rich in minerals. In 2011, we organized and trained people for Moringa farming and supported them with free seeds but people were not convinced then and did not plant them. But now people can see the benefit and every week we receive people asking for Moringa seeds.  We tell them about its many uses as a dietary supplement and fertilizer, as well as a valuable cash crop and support some them with seeds for planting and leaf powder for nutrition. So although this change took longer than we wanted, with your generosity, we are getting there in the end..

And for the next 5 days donations up to £50 will be matched by 50% by GlobalGiving, so if you’d like to donate more please do so quickly!     Asante Sana!

Vedasto with the sign protecting the forest – Evarist and Steven eating water melon

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.
village in tanzania

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..
african village tanzania

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..

people of zeze tanzania

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.

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.

20150815_175505

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!

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.