The PECC project is just nearing the end of its first quarter and lots of important foundation level activities have been taking place. Progress is also happening around establishing the land in Mkange, for the Kihembe education centre. From 18th to 21st November Peter Millanga took Bruce and myself on a visit to all 6 of the communities in which PECC is running.
We had the chance to sit and talk with committee members about their experiences in the project so far and what plans they have at the moment for how to resolve some of the more pressing issues. It was an amazing experience, the groups are already working well together (each has 10 members) and there is quite a diversity of membership. Although there was a lot of consistency between group in terms of what they were saying about the types of issues they were facing, it is going to be interesting to see how each group approaches their specific situation. The real benefits of the way this project has been set up lies with the fact that there is no set way of approaching activities. Peter is doing a really good job of facilitating discussions without necessarily leading groups, so some individual approaches are starting to emerge.
(Members of the Gongo PECC group, with Shabani, left, Bruce, centre and Peter, right.)
Over the next couple of journal entries I want to share some of the discussions we had with the groups so that you can get a sense of the issues they are dealing with. And I want to share with you how the groups, working alongside Peter, are beginning to see what actions they can take to bring resolution to some very significant conservation problems.
Our trip also included several visits to the site where our Kihembe education centre will be located. We have an opportunity to begin working on a basic camp so we wanted to make sure the villagers of Mkange, and representatives from SANA, were all happy with the ideas. We had some really positive meetings about this and I’ll share those with you next time. I can’t really end this journal entry without sharing with you some of the realities of village life.
(view within Kihembe)
Of course its great to be able to say we just spent 4 days in and around Saadani National Park. Its been a real privilege to experience the amazing landscapes of the Park. For me, I particularly appreciated the diverse range of birds that I was able to spot as we travelled from village to village (next time I am definitely bringing my binoculars!) but we were also lucky to see Giraffe, Waterbuck and a number of species I confess not to be sure about naming! BUT, the roads were really not fun. Bruce did an amazing job of avoiding getting stuck on the road to Matapwili (no mean feat) and the guesthouse in Saadani was, well, very, very hot. Food and water were not exactly in plentiful supply either. So, when we did get the opportunity to briefly visit Saadani Lodge it was with great pleasure that we drank cold beer. The very nice bar manager, Salim, must have wondered why we were so quick to devour all the bar snacks he had prepared!
That’s enough for this entry. I’ll be back next time with more stories from Kihembe and the PECC group activities.