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RE: The Impact of Poverty in Rural Communities in Tanzania
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RE: The Impact of Poverty in Rural Communities in Tanzania

category: Main Paper - Theme 3: Upholding Spiritual Values in Poverty and When Emerging from poverty


Oswald Simon Malunda

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I have recently returned from project evaluation and appraisal inTanzania. This was an opportunity to listen, observe and learn from community development initatives in rural villages in Northern Tanzania and on the basis of what was learnt design a new project to assist three small communities with water and sanitation needs. Oswald comments on the ineffectiveness of strategies by international communities to alleviate poverty in Tanzania because the people themselves were not involved in the design and implementation. This reflects the view of Western market forces where everything is measured in dollars, including the contribution that the poor need to make to improve their situation.

An example sited during a rural village community meeting in Tanzania highlighted this. A World Bank project for water had been offered to the village, if the people contributed 25% of the funds. A great offer, but for a village with little or no cash income a very inappropriate one. Not surprisingly there is still no water in the village. Yet the people have a great deal to contribute, they are willing to do the work, supply the sand, the land, make bricks and maintain the well. Outside intervention is required for donor funds to drill the well and provide the pump but the local contribution is significant.

Evaluation of a previous project in the same district showed that the provision of a well, establishment of a women's group, training and some very small loans to the women had already brough measurable changes amongst some of the poorest rural people in Tanzania. With a well close by, the women now get their water in 20 minutes instead of 6 hours. They now have some choices about how they spend their day, and have been able to establish vegetable gardens and improve nutrition, get sufficient rest. Small cash incomes from sales of vegetables have paid school and other expenses, as well as given the women the opportunity to purchase chickens, and later some sheep and goats. There are still problems in the village but development initiatives to date have raised the capacity and will of the villagers to bring about further changes themselves.

Poverty, as the General has pointed out in the opening message to the conference, excludes the poor from many things, including health, food, water and the basic necessities of life. It takes away dignity and self-esteem. Community Development at it's best empowers local people and builds capacity to tackle poverty at grassroots level using the skills and knowledge of the people themselves. Its a priveledge to work alongside communities in this way. Donors such as our Territory and others can provide relatively small amounts of money (by our Western standards) for the provision of basic necessities of life, such as water and sanitation.

The success of many of these projects amongst the rural poor in Tanzania is a credit to Oswald and his project staff and the leadership in the Tanzania command. Their dedication, committment and willingness to listen to the poor has resulted in hope being restored, and lifes changed, both physically and spiritually. It's also been a challenge and encouragement to me personally to know that we have the opportunity to make a difference.

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[Previous Main Document]

The Impact of Poverty in Rural Communities in Tanzania (Karl Larsson)
. . re: The Impact of Poverty in Rural Communities in Tanzania (Ronda McIntyre)
. . RE: The Impact of Poverty in Rural Communities in Tanzania (Carolyne Frazer)
. . RE: The Impact of Poverty in Rural Communities in Tanzania (Paul du Plessis)

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