Farewell Tanzania: reflections on a vast, beautiful country
As Concern closes the doors of the Concern Tanzania country office, we celebrate the achievements and resilience of this land.
It is always with mixed emotions that we close a country office. Having completed our operations in Laos, Cambodia, Angola, India and others, we have had some experience of saying farewell. While it can be a sad event it is also an opportunity to celebrate achievements and acknowledge the strides being made in a particular country, in this case Tanzania.
I commend all the Tanzanian staff who have worked for Concern over the last 38 years. I thank you for your dedicated service and your commitment to Concern and to the goal of reducing extreme poverty in Tanzania. I wish the international community, local partners and the government of Tanzania every success in the future.
— Dominic MacSorley, Concern CEO.
Concern has been working in Tanzania since 1978 and we have enjoyed working with the people, government and local partners to transform the lives of the most vulnerable. Here, we reflect on the variety and success of our programmes during our thirty years in Tanzania.
Reducing malaria using Lantana
We believe in respecting local traditions and customs while striving to find sustainable solutions for the challenges our beneficiaries face. Nothing illustrates this better than our innovative approach to malaria prevention in Tanzania using the Lantana camara plant.
The plant grows in much of sub-Saharan Africa and is a natural mosquito repellent. Our research team, led by Frank Mng’ong’o and Joseph Sambali, together with the Tanzania-based Ifakara Health Institute, planted Lantana camara around 230 houses. They then measured the number of mosquitoes inside people’s homes.
John Elfast, pictured above, planted Lantana around his home in 2008 and saw a drastic reduction in the number of mosquitoes. According to John, no one in the family has had malaria since they planted Lantana.
Since we planted Lantana, we no longer suffer from malaria. None of [our] kids have been sick since we planted Lantana. It’s not only kids, but me and my wife too.
— John Elfast, Concern beneficiary.
Improving gender equality
The Women’s Social and Economic Rights (WSER) programme was implemented in 2013 by Concern in partnership with the EU. This three-year programme aimed to improve women’s status, their involvement in decision-making and access to resources. It was implemented in 40 villages in the 3 districts — Masasi, Kasulu and Kigoma Rural.
Land rights played a key role in this programme. Land titles were issued to the most vulnerable households to provide security and dignity, as well as an asset base. The results were promising; more than half of all the land titles were issued to women which in turn facilitated their economic empowerment through improved access to land resources.
We listened to female beneficiaries and recognised the important role that men played as allies in gender equality for women.
I know my rights but they don’t apply in my home.When I come home, I leave my rights at the door.
— Quote from a participant in Concern’s Livelihoods Programme evaluation.
Men were encouraged to participate in group discussions along with their partners on issues of power, tasks and roles, communication and couple negotiation, decision-making and planning, respect, participation and non-violent relationships, which contributed to greater awareness of women’s rights.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)
Concern supported communities in building and rehabilitating a large number of wells to improve access to water. An evaluation found that the sustainability of these wells was high. Wells continued to function and be maintained by local committees many years after they were built or rehabilitated.
Locals were trained as WASH engineers, to ensure that these wells could be maintained long after Concern is gone. Gloria Kafuria is one of our WASH engineers in Tanzania, in the video below she describes the difficulties she faced as an engineer in a patriarchal society and the pride she feels as a role model for other young Tanzanian women.
Our innovative Child to Child (C2C) approach used children as peer educators in good hygiene practice in two districts in west Tanzania. This approach allowed information to disseminate from the schools to the wider community, cultivating good hygiene practice in children’s younger years to form a life-long habit. Teachers were trained in WASH best practice for washing hands, boiling water and keeping toilets clean. They were also trained in how to better construct toilets. The knock-on effect of more toilets is that female students are more likely to attend and stay in school longer than they would if they didn’t have access to suitable latrines. Sauda says:
Because we weren’t washing our hands before, we were suffering with diarrhoea… We think the tippy-‐tap has helped us as we can wash our hands with soap and then rinse them with clean and safe water. It’s important to wash with soap to remove any dirt and to make sure you don’t get diseases.
— Sauda Issa, Concern WASH beneficiary.
Students were also taught how to construct and use hand-washing stations outside the toilets in their school, these stations are called ‘Tippy Taps’. Here Sauda from Kigarama primary school explains the importance of using the ‘Tippy Tap’.
Young Scientists Tanzania
Modelled on the Young Scientists exhibition in Ireland, Tanzania was chosen as the country to pilot the Young Scientists competition in east Africa. The inaugural exhibition was held in Dar es Salaam in 2012 and has been running successfully ever since. Concern Tanzania was a proud sponsor of the competition from 2012–2015. In 2015 the winning project focused on the reduction of plastic bags in Tanzania and incorporated learning from the Irish experience of introducing the plastic bag levy.
Scaling up Nutrition (SUN)
Established in 2013 by Concern and UNICEF, and recently handed over to a consortium of six other NGOs, the Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) programme works particularly with pregnant mothers and caregivers of children under two years old. It supports them to learn about maternal and child nutrition, exclusive breast feeding, complementary feeding, food and water hygiene, diversifying their diets and growing alternative foods. The focus is on the slim window of time between pregnancy and two years old — because children who don’t get the right food during this vital period can be left irreversibly physically damaged.
Thecla Abdul Lugenge (pictured above) is from Iringa Region in Tanzania. At almost a year old, Thecla’s youngest daughter, Asha, is thriving. She has avoided the frequent bouts of diarrhoea that her siblings suffered in their infancy. Her mum puts the change down to her own increased awareness of nutrition and new knowledge about breastfeeding.
Thecla is just one of the thousands of mothers in Tanzania who has been armed with better information about maternal and child nutrition through the Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) programme.
Through our in-depth work on nutrition, we contributed to the study of ‘Factors associated with stunting in pre-school children’ which was published in the Journal of Tropical Pediatrics in 2016.
Asante sana (thank you)
We are delighted to have worked in such a vibrant and beautiful country as Tanzania. Concern would like to extend its sincere thanks and acknowledgement of work carried out by all Concern Tanzania staff, Concern partners and the Government of Tanzania since 1978.