The Kesho Trust

Subscribe to our email newsletter (at right) to receive select news & announcements, as well as journal stories, by email.

Trip Report: Bruce K. Downie, Director

November 12, 2016  |  Bruce K. Downie, Director

As the Canadian representative to the Tanzanian Board of Directors, I have taken a fairly prominent role in the development of the Kesho Trust program in Tanzania. I attempt to visit regularly and this recent visit had a fairly extensive agenda of activities. I have tried to capture the highlights in this journal entry with brief notes on each of the topic areas I addressed during the trip.


20161018_112148We have developed a partnership initiative with our Loliondo partners, the Enguserosambu Forest Trust, based on the work of our volunteer Lindsay Staples following his month long assignment in the village late last year. On this trip I joined with EFT members, Samwel Nangiria (L) and Mark Talash (R) [see photo], to promote the initiative to representatives of a number of donor agencies in Dar es Salaam. Not all connections were possible during the trip but Director Victoria Mushi is following up with the Canadian High Commission representatives. Our meetings generated considerable interest. Besides building a network of informed and interested organizations we are hoping that funding support for the work will also follow.

Board Member Meetings

The logistics of gathering board members together at a single location proved impossible this trip so instead I met with board members at different times. I met with Dar es Salaam based members, Sympho Hangi and Victoria Mushi and subsequently with Agnes Sirima and Alfred Kikoti in Morogoro. Unfortunately I was unable to connect with the last member of the board Jafari Kideghesho as he is now based in Moshi and my time was too short to make that trip. However the meetings were productive and I thank the board members for their continuing active support.

Meeting with Volunteers

One of the important ways that Kesho Trust works is through volunteers. We have had a significant number of people from Canada go to work on our projects and with our local partners. What allows this to happen is the link between international volunteers and local Tanzanian staff and volunteers. Without that local support hosting our Canadian volunteers would be impossible. We are looking to expand the cadre of local volunteers so that we can utilize more international students and interns that are becoming available to us.

I met with interested Tanzanians in Dar es Salaam during this trip to determine the level of interest and to explore the range of activities these young people would be interested in. We are encouraged to find many people, typically recent university graduates, looking for experience with an organization like the Kesho Trust. We now need to raise the necessary funds to allow them to be supported in their work, especially in the field assignments that are available in Kihembe.

Miseni Visit


It is always enjoyable to visit our project sites outside of Dar es Salaam.  On this occasion I was hosted by Costa Coucoulis, Director of our partner organization SANA, at his new camp in Gongo.  The visit provided an important opportunity to view and discuss efforts to conserve buffer lands to the Zaraninge Forest in the area between Gongo, Matipwili and the Wami River.

Kihembe facility

20161101_142213A key part of the reason for visiting the Saadani area was to check the facilities at Kihembe and determine what finishing was necessary to prepare for international students coming to live and work there in the new year.  We met with Juma, our onsite caretaker, and made plans for improvements that will be undertaken.

New village forest conservation

Representatives of the village of Manda Mazingara connected with our Kihembe team while we were in Mkange. They invited us to visit a forest area within their village. They wanted us to work with them to protect the forest and at the same time develop benefits to the community that would raise the level of well being of residents.



The forest landscape was interesting and in relatively good condition although like most of the village areas around Saadani deforestation for purposes of charcoal production was reducing protected landscapes at an alarming rate. The fact that this village recognized the issue and wanted to do something about it before it was too late was extremely encouraging. A spiritual hill was a prominent feature that we visited and our guides reported the presence of interesting wildlife.

img_0020Following the field visit we met with a group of elders and community leaders to discuss what could be done. Although no commitments were made we suggested that further study of the potential might be undertaken by students who we anticipated would be coming to work at Kihembe in January. Once further review was possible we could then sit and discuss future plans.


We have not taken advantage of the office space donated to us over the past year by Nicola Colangelo in part because of its location. We are currently investigating other space and setting up volunteer assistance to run the office on a regular basis. There will be more news on the plans when they are confirmed.


The Kesho Trust : EMAYO Annual Report

The Kesho Trust

Subscribe to our email newsletter (at right) to receive select news & announcements, as well as journal stories, by email.

EMAYO Annual Report

April 16, 2014

The Kesho Trust is pleased to receive and publicize the annual report of our partner organization EMAYO for 2013.  This has been an active year again for EMAYO and they continue to demonstrate commitment and generosity to their community. 

EMAYO’s 2013 Annual Report

EMAYO’s home village of Elerai is currently experiencing very difficult circumstances with respect to the land issues with their neighbouring community of Kibirashi.  Raising awareness on land rights issues has been a priority issue for EMAYO and we encourage you to support their good work on this issue which will continue to alleviate the current tensions and which is so critical for the people of both villages.  You can donate to EMAYO’s land rights work through our website: Donate.

The Kesho Trust : Saadani Trails 2

The Kesho Trust

Subscribe to our email newsletter (at right) to receive select news & announcements, as well as journal stories, by email.

Saadani Trails 2

December 3, 2013  |  Lorraine Wapling

On our recent visit to Saadani, Peter, Bruce and I had the opportunity to sit and talk with representatives from the newly established PECC committees. We visited with each of the committees in the villages of Gongo, Saadani, Mkwaja, Buyuni, Matapwili and Mkange to learn about what they have been doing since September when the project began.

matipwili peccEach group has quite a diverse range of members but I was struck in particular by the fact that four out of the six group Chairs were women. In fact all the groups have made a significant effort to ensure that both men and women were equally represented. During our discussions too, everyone had the opportunity to contribute their thoughts, regardless of gender or status in the village. I also like the fact that most of the groups have chosen a special name for themselves:

  • Mkwaja group = Mawezo (after the local forest)
  • Buyuni group = Muhinga (after the local forest)
  • Mkange group = Kihembe (after the local forest)
  • Saadani group = Mveve (after a local river)

As you can see most of them have used the name of local forests [each with a different story of significance] where, they say villagers traditionally go when they want the chance to think through problems in a calm and positive environment. An apt choice of names it would seem, considering some of the issues these committees are facing.

mkange peccAll of our discussions began with a summary of what issues the groups had identified as being important in the relationships between the village and the Saadani National Park authority. As I mentioned in my previous post, there was a lot of consistency in what they were describing although each group had specific examples illustrating the problems. At the moment a lot of the discussions have been confined to the group members but as I will mention in my next post, Peter is already working with each group on a research process that will help the committees establish the wider community experiences of the Park.

One of the overwhelming responses that came up in our discussions was a perceived lack of equity between the Park and the villages. This was at the root of many of the problems that were described and is leading to a sense of disempowerment and frustration. It also means that the villages are less interested in helping maintain the Park and its environment because they see few benefits – only problems.

For example, most committees were able to describe incidents where people or livestock had strayed into the Park often to be met with severe treatment, confiscation of equipment and/or court imposed fines. However, when wild animals such as elephants, monkeys, pigs (warthogs) and even lions stray onto village farmland and destroy crops there is no response from SANAPA. Despite there being an emergency response team with a number to call, every village was able to say they had not received helped.

This kind of incursion can have serious long term effects on households. It takes four to five years for coconut trees to become productive and up to fifteen years for cashew nut trees. Both of these are a popular target for elephants and monkeys. Whilst most of the regular damage is fairly low level (pigs and monkeys getting at maize, cassava and millet for example) if elephants or lions wander onto village farmland the level of destruction is significant.

In Matapwili the group expressed very clearly that they are realistic about not expecting financial compensation every time crops are damaged. However what they, and all the other groups want is to be able to work with SANAPA on ways to prevent as many of these incidents from taking place as possible.

mkwaja peccThere is also a sense that despite agreeing to the establishment of the Park, the promises around benefits to communities has not been forthcoming. This leaves villages wondering whether it was all just propaganda. In Gongo, Mkwaja, and Buyuni specifically the groups described how SANAPA never seems to recruit from within their villages. They are frustrated at seeing labourers brought in from outside the area when they have many young people in their villages who would willingly provide their time.

saadani peccIn Saadani there was a lot of frustration expressed over SANAPA failing to support some important village development projects. They have asked for help fitting out their local dispensary with a laboratory. At the moment the doctor has to make a guess as to the cause of some of their problems because they cannot get lab tested results. If they want an accurate diagnosis they have to travel many miles outside the area. They asked SANAPA for assistance with a building because they have already been able to secure the lab equipment from the District Council. But to date SANAPA have declined to support them. Similarly Matapwili desperately needs an all-weather road, because transport regularly can’t make the journey during the rains, and Buyuni would like support to build a house for the teacher at their local school. However, neither has yet been unable to secure such benefits from SANAPA’s development program.

From the perspective of the villagers therefore it seems there is little to be gained from being a neighbour to Saadani National Park.

buyuni peccAnother common issue was around boundaries. There were a lot of concerns raised about the process of establishing the Park boundary but what is causing ongoing problems is the lack of awareness within communities of where the boundaries actually are. The coastal villages of Mkwaja and Buyuni in particular have a problem because the Park extends into the ocean but they are unsure of exactly where the ocean boundaries are. Its often hard for them to control where they or their equipment end up because of currents, tides and winds but it would be easier for them if it was clearly marked. Other groups described how women in particular are vulnerable to being caught in the Park as they search for firewood. Everyone agreed that at the root of a lot of this was a lack of awareness and education about the Park, its role and its regulations. Something which the groups are all keen to address.

Although it was clear that all the villages we visited have significant, ongoing problems as a result of living so close the national park there was also a real sense that it was time things changed. As one committee member in Gongo explained:

“….(we are) looking forward to the time when we will be able to sit and discuss things with SANAPA.”

They are very aware that their relationships with SANAPA are bad. The issues they described all seem to me to be symptomatic of a lack of a lack of mutual respect, which makes it hard for an open and productive dialogue to be established. Nevertheless this project is demonstrating that there is willingness on the part of villages to improve this and to take some responsibility for changing. In my next post I want to describe what kinds of actions the PECC groups are planning as they seek to improve their relationship to the Park.

The Kesho Trust : M-K Youth Camps 2012

The Kesho Trust

Subscribe to our email newsletter (at right) to receive select news & announcements, as well as journal stories, by email.

M-K Youth Camps 2012

November 3, 2012  |  by Wayne Sawchuk

In the summer of 2012, Wayne Sawchuk and Jerry Pavia again held youth camps at Mayfield Lake, deep in the remote wilderness of the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area. These camps are aimed at introducing youth to the M-KMA, but also, in a small way to combat “nature deficit disorder” that afflicts many young people today. Two camps were held, one for the Remuda Horsemanship Program, and the other for the University of Northern British Columbia’s Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Management program.

The Remuda Horsemanship Program has brought a group of youth to Muskwa-Kechika Wilderness Adventures’ Mayfield Lake base camp each year for the last two years. Tony McKee, leader of the program, reported that the effect it has had on those who attended the camp has been nothing short of “life changing!” The youth realized a connection with nature, and an empowerment that came with that. There has been an increase among the youth in self-esteem, self confidence, and connections to others and their community. Tony says “These camp experiences have vastly benefited our participants and we plan to continue coming to the camps in years to come. The camp is extremely well run and the food and accommodations are fantastic, I strongly recommend this camp to any group looking to reconnect with nature.”


Then, in late August the University of Northern British Columbia’s Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Management program offered a field course for twelve participants. For eleven days they explored by foot, canoe, and horseback on day trips and overnight horse and horse/hiking adventures.

The course was designed for senior university students to take basic outdoor recreation and tourism management skills and theory learned throughout other university courses, and put them into practice; hands-on; experientially. The group included students of all skills levels from those who had never been on a course to those who were experienced riders. They learned how to tack, pack and travel with horses in the backcountry, and much more. Professor Pam Wright, who led the group, reported that they experienced “amazing views from the high alpine, caribou bounding by in a blizzard or sniffing around tents at night, fantastic food, and superb discussions about the M-KMA, conservation planning and management. Outdoor leadership and guiding were highlights between the laughter, good humour and daily adventures of living in the wilderness. By the end of the two weeks most were ready to saddle our horses and join Wayne for the two week trek to the Alaska Highway… but that experience will have to wait for another year.”

Muskwa-Kechika Adventures is a project of Wayne Sawchuk, whose work is supported by the Kesho Trust. For more information on the Trust, see