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December 5, 2016 | Beatrice Simon
The Kesho Trust was invited to attend a recent information workshop regarding research on the links between population and the environment. A local volunteer with Kesho Trust, Beatrice Simon, who has worked with us in Saadani [in photo] and in Kiteto District attended on our behalf. We are grateful to Beatrice for her participation. Her report on the workshop follows:
Demographic Dividend –Workshop for Environmental Organizations
I was fortunate to be able to represent the Kesho Trust at a workshop conducted at Flomi Hotel in Morogoro, Tanzania. Hosted by Pathfinder International the workshop focused on the interrelationship between population and various socio-economic sectors such as environment and how population impacts these sectors and the Sustainable Development Goals. A variety of Tanzanian environmental organizations were invited. Pathfinder is an organization that removes barriers to critical sexual and reproductive health services in developing countries, ensuring millions of women, men and young people are able to choose their own paths forward.
The workshop was useful for me because I gained important knowledge on the relationship between environment and population. Worldwide population is still increasing while the resources remain the same. Population growth hinders economic opportunities as a result of high child dependency. This is true because most people especially in rural areas do not use family planning often due to factors such as lack of education. Socioeconomic growth through managing demographics can be achieved through reducing the child dependency burden and improving human capital through investment in health and education. When birth rates declinesignificantly, there will be more working-aged adults, which will open the window of opportunity for accelerating economic growth through increased productivity.
Also underemployment as a result of high population will be reduced when countries, particularly developing countries, invest in different sectors such as agriculture and industrialization. This investment is accentuated through the multiplier effect. Education, health, family planning, and economic reforms are important wheels in achieving population stability and dividends. Different organization and stakeholders should encourage education, particularly female school enrollment and use of family planning in order to reduce child dependency. Family planning reduces child dependency and the burden of catering for children hence enhance economic growth. These principles and implications of population profiles are important for organizations such as The Kesho Trust especially as it works to enhance education and sustainable livelihoods for the local people in the villages where we work.
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.
We 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.
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.
A 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.
Following 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.
July 14, 2016 | Penina Mairo
I was very interested to participate in these activities since my passion is to cooperate with people who want to conserve nature through tourism within their communities. I think it is important to help find different ways for the communities to benefit from tourism resources and identify opportunities for tourism developments within and outside the community.
During the community based tourism training that I attended, I found it especially interesting that the villagers were able to identify and explain a little history about their attractions as well as describe how they would benefit from those resources. I was also impressed by the confidence of the villagers, how ready they were to be involved in conservation and their keenness to conduct tourism enterprises within their villages.
From this experience with the Kesho Trust project I feel more able to assist communities in and around the park to recognize the importance of conserving natural resources and use them sustainably for tourism. It is important to find different ways that can help the villagers to benefit from these resources.
I really appreciated the opportunity to attend the community based tourism training and for the experience of working with the community people.
July 14, 2016 | Matthias Clyde-Lien
I recently participated in activities related to the PECC project of the Kesho Trust [May 23-30, 2016]. During my trip I took the opportunity to speak with some of the youth about their lives in Saadani village including topics such as their spare time activities, the pros and cons of life in the village, their dreams for the future, and the opportunities and challenges they may face in achieving those goals.
Lots of the youth in the village enjoy spending their free time doing activities such as running, fishing, swimming, drawing, reading, studying, and playing football (soccer) or netball (basketball). Their balls are usually made out of bits of plastics wrapped around each other in the shape of sphere. Some of the younger children have toys that are made up of a stick (approximately 1 meter in length) with either a plastic bottle or two circular pieces of plastic that act as wheels on one end.
The responses about some pros and cons of village life had similar themes. One of the big topics was education. They said they lack materials including books, pencils and even uniforms. Some of the older kids said that the only secondary school was a 2 km walk from the village [most villages do not have a secondary school at all]. This secondary school also lacks school materials, but also food and drinking water. Elementary schools became free with the election of the new president, President John Magufuli, on October 25, 2015. However, the costs to attend secondary school are around Can $1,200. These high prices make it hard for families in the smaller villages to put their children through school. Children also mentioned that they are beaten by their parents, elders and school teachers.
Most of the children enjoy living in the village because they enjoy seeing wildlife and tourists and having access to activities such as fishing and swimming in the ocean. Some of the wildlife in the village includes warthogs, yellow baboons, monkeys and wild birds. Although it can be interesting to watch the local wildlife, these animals can also cause problems for the villagers. The baboons have been known to steal the villagers’ food, and both baboons and warthogs can be destructive. The village will also, on occasion, receive larger and more dangerous animals such as a lion or hyena. In this case, the villagers also fear for their livestock (e.g., goats and chickens) as well as themselves.
During my discussions with the youth, I also asked them about their dreams and goals for the future. A lot of the younger kids wanted to grow up to be teachers or doctors. However, jobs interests of the older youth were more diverse – a bus or taxi driver, a sales woman selling soft drinks, a pilot a soldier, and one girl wanted to be president. When I asked them about the challenges they may face in achieving these goals, most of their responses had to do with the lack of courses in school such as math and physics due to the lack of teachers along with the absence of science laboratories to conduct their experiments in. These make school graduation almost impossible. The challenges they face are not only in the schools, but in the village as well. There are not many job opportunities in the village, and no room or funding to open shops. One boy wanted to become a farmer, but said he lack the space for the land he would need.
The lives of the youth in Saadani are so very different than the lives the youth have here in the Canada, or the Yukon where I live. We in Canada are presented with so many opportunities that most of us take for granted. For example, our education is free, up until post-secondary. We also have the advantages of things like free health care. But one of the things that amazed me the most about the youth I spoke with was the fact that even though they live in poverty, with little opportunity, most the people in the village are very happy with their lives. It makes you think about how small and pointless some of our “problems” really are.
The villages surrounding Saadani National Park are wonderful and beautiful places that provide many opportunities for the youth who are growing up there. However, they also provide many challenges for them. It seems that most of this is due to the amount of poverty in the village. My hope is that with the work that we are doing with through the Kesho Trust to work with the communities and the national parks agency will help boost the village economies and help improve the lives of the youth who live there.