Visit to Muheza Climate Change Project
The Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement (TOAM) is one of seven agencies implementing the Ecovillage Adaptation to Climate Change in Central Tanzania (EcoACT) project. The project aims at increasing the capacity of vulnerable rural Tanzanian communities to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change, and reduce poverty.
The European Union in Tanzania is currently funding five projects through the Global Climate Change Alliance 2 (GCCA II). Each of these projects uses a holistic approach to work towards building resilience to climate change in Tanzanian communities. Ecovillage Adaptation to Climate Change in Central Tanzania (EcoACT) is one of these five EU-funded projects. Another is The Integrated Approaches for Climate Change Adaptation in the East Usambara Mountains – in Muheza district, Tanga. This project is implemented by Engineering for Human Development (ONGAWA), in partnership with the Tanzanian Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) and Muheza District Council.
On Friday 25th August, the EcoACT team was invited to Muheza to visit the project sites and implementing team in Kazita and Kwemsoso villages. Kazita and Kwemsoso are located in the Usambara Mountains of Tanga region, North-Eastern Tanzania.
The sites visited include tree nurseries, a butterfly farming demonstration cage and a primary school where the project is building improved latrines. EcoACT officers were also welcomed into the homesteads of some of the Muheza project beneficiaries, where we were able to see how the project is changing the livelihoods of villagers to make them more resilient.
In nurseries, constructed using locally available natural materials, villagers have been taught to grow seedlings of high yielding varieties of Cardamon, Cinnamon, Cloves, Black Pepper and timber trees such as Teak. The immediate benefit of this for the villagers is that they can sell these valuable tree seedlings to visitors. However, this is not only an activity with quick cash returns. Villagers are aware that many of these seedlings will take twenty to thirty years to reach full maturity. They are investing in the resilience of future generations in Muheza in the face of climate change.
The project has built butterfly farming demonstration cages in five villages of Muheza district. Experts also impart knowledge to farmers on how to protect and nurture rare species of butterfly. These butterflies are then sold on at local markets and eventually reach their final destinations in conservation sites, where visitors can enjoy the beauty of Muheza’s natural wildlife.
Primary School Latrines
Muheza’s integrated climate change adaptation project has also engaged with the local community through its work with primary schools. EcoACT officers were brought to a primary school in Kazita village where the project is currently constructing toilet facilities. The facilities contain three latrines and a purpose-built drophole for students with special needs (pictured).
Village Savings and Loans Associations
Another achievement of the Muheza project has been the establishment of village savings and loans associations. The groups are set up with the focus of empowering women. In Kazita village, one group has saved as much as 2,000,000TSh (approx. 750 EUR). This makes the groups resilient in a world that has become increasingly unstable due to climate change. Members of these groups can take loans to cover emergencies, making repayments with a small interest rate that helps the fund to grow steadily. In Kazita, villagers have also developed a health insurance scheme for their members.
The climate and landscape in Muheza is considerably different to that of Chamwino and Dodoma Municipal Council Districts in Dodoma region. Despite this, the EcoACT team were able to identify similarities between the two projects and learnt some key lessons which will contribute to building resiliency in communities in Dodoma.