Climate change presents threats to the pastoralist way of life and threatens food security. Environmental degradation, the disappearance of natural vegetation and viable pastures due to increased temperatures, water scarcity and reduced reliability of rain result in challenges to the pastoralist way of life. Besides climatic threats, rangelands which pastoralists are dependent on, are threatened by agricultural expansion, charcoal making, mining activities, wildlife, human-induced fires, and large livestock numbers. Although the Maasai are traditionally pastoralists and cattle herders, they have started farming as there is less pastureland.
"Rains are no longer predictable, and as a result, there is a lack of grazing areas, poor outcomes from farming, and strong winds from north to south, so many things cannot be predicted as they were in the past," says Frank Samwel Mushi, natural resources officer at Monduli District Council
Since March of this year, we have worked with 27 local communities in the Monduli, Longido and Ngorongoro Districts, leaders and district governments to develop Community Climate Change Action Plans that include climate-smart pastoralism. The Pamoja Voices climate tool presents a simple and affordable methodology to identify the climate change adaptation priorities of men, women and young people using participatory learning and action methods.
At a recent workshop on climate change resilience facilitated by PWC, pastoralists identified challenges resulting from climate change and possible solutions to those challenges. They shared their views and experiences, stating that the rains were reliable in the past, but they do not produce enough in recent times. Further, they shared that the knowledge gained from participating in the workshop was crucial for ensuring that pastoralist communities engage in climate change action and cope with the resulting challenges. Participants lauded the inclusion of women in the training because women face many challenges, including walking long distances to get or sell firewood and milk. Check out a video of their reflections here https://youtu.be/lITQGuD_3jE
2020 presented unprecedented challenges due to Covid-19, which caused uncertainty, fear and significant lifestyle change across the world. At PWC, we mainly interact with our membership face to face and from within their communities. The pandemic caused us to pause much of our fieldwork. However, working from home meant that we honed our distance collaboration skills and that greater numbers of PWC staff and volunteers got to participate in virtual learning events and webinars.
While our strategic goals remained unchanged, our focus was shifted to raising awareness of Covid-19 prevention practices and mitigating its effects for the most vulnerable in the communities we serve. Collaborating with various stakeholders, including government officials and development partners, PWC staff and members shared vital preventative information, including details about adequate hygiene and sanitation practices, and distributed much needed cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment to those who do not have the means to buy them themselves.
Improved hand washing and sanitation practices have also helped reduce transmission of other viruses and with reducing non-infectious diseases. Health and hygiene education continues with PWC promoting relevant health protocols announced by the Ministry of Health. For example, we have fewer participants at workshops, we ensure that all prevention protocols are observed and use those opportunities to continue with our awareness-raising to help curb the spread of disease. This has become our new normal and will continue long beyond the pandemic.
Emanyata Secondary School (ESS) is a community-owned boarding school managed by PWC. Over the past three years, around 80% of students at ESS passed their exams, including many young ladies sponsored by PWC. Unfortunately, few were able to achieve the highest grades of Division 1 and 2. A struggling 20% have been unable to pass their grade, with mathematics and sciences being the most challenging for both girls and boys.
Emanyata's conducive school environment of a good teacher: pupil ratio, safe and well-nourished students and a school culture that motivates learners has been recognised in a recent Ministry of Education Quality Assurance report. Some areas to improve were also highlighted, such as providing teachers with more teaching aids and improving resources and teaching pedagogies to include more practical exercises across all subjects.
We are excited to report that, with the support of Oxfam Tanzania in March 2020 PWC broke ground and started construction of a much-needed modern science laboratory at ESS. Many of the 6,500 members of PWC plus community members, leaders and dignitaries came together at a "Harambee" on July 17th to promote equitable access to quality education and to raise local funds to support the completion of this 21st-century resource. The event attended by 500 members of the pastoralist community was marked with pomp and celebration with the women’s joyful songs ringing in the air while a heartfelt poem performed by female students at ESS, sharing the hardships they faced in trying to access a good education moved the crowd to tears.
Despite the recent financial strains induced by the Covid-19 pandemic, our community, dignitaries and education partners continue to raise awareness across the pastoralist society of a girl’s right to basic education. The call to come together was very well received by members of our community, with women standing out for their generous contributions of time money and resources. The willingness of the community to invest in their children’s education further motivated PWCs generous partners from across the world to join hands in this noble cause. Our women’s contributions also emphasized how women are becoming more proactive and the community is developing. We had a target to raise Tsh. 95,000,000 with this fundraising event and went a long way to achieving that goal with a record Tsh. 64,000,000 being contributed by members, partners, well wishers, board members, staff and development partners.
Donations to this transformational project are welcomed via our trusted US partner at https://www.omprakash.org/global/PWC/donate or by sending your donation directly to PWCs bank account. Watch for further updates as this initiative inspires girls and boys at Emanyata to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)-based careers and to innovate local solutions for their communities’ greatest challenges.
Equitable access to quality education remains a crucial pillar of our work to empower women and girls by helping them increase their resilience to their changing circumstances and supporting their full participation in the development of their community.
Throughout the pandemic, PWC has continued its support for adult learners running 34 adult literacy classes with 600 students in the Ngorongoro and Longido Districts. Attendees were mainly adult women who have never experienced formal schooling. PWC was honoured to receive recognition of this work at the recent "Education Week" celebrations and to learn that a similar adult learning programme is being rolled out at a national level, based on the success of this and other work by education advocates across Tanzania.
PWC has also made progress in promoting and supporting fundamental education rights for girls within the pastoralist community. We recently facilitated a training workshop for teachers and education officials from three secondary schools in the Ngorongoro and Longido Districts. The Rapid Learning Approach has been designed to identify and support students in the lower secondary who are lagging behind in their learning. Check out a video from this training here https://youtu.be/yAT09t391jg.
"I want to encourage those who have not yet joined with a VICOBA group to do so. The government directives for our groups to be registered under the new system are to ensure that our funds are secure." Nabarunye Ngurumay, Participant at a recent training.
PWC's Women Economic Empowerment interventions support pastoralist women to become self-reliant. One way we do this is through our microcredit program, helping women establish Village Community Banks (VICOBAs). These are savings and loan groups which are self-sufficient groups led and sustained by the members, who are women. The microfinance sector supports pastoralist women who would not otherwise have had access to credit and finance. Recent government guidelines require microfinance institutions to be registered, so their services are regulated.
"I encourage PWC not to give up and to continue supporting the government to ensure that laws and regulations that have been passed reach the citizens," Enock Mwananyamale District Social Welfare Officer
In the third week of April 2021, PWC conducted financial literacy and Sexual Reproductive Health trainings to VICOBA groups in 13 villages of the Longido District. The exercise aimed to raise members' awareness of the new registration process under the new Microfinance regulation and connect members with different service providers, including NMB banks, ICHF and the District Community Development Department. The team met with and trained members from 164 groups in Longido and Ngorongoro, with a total of 3,280 people attending, including 3,160 women and 120 men. Many members took the opportunity to open individual bank accounts with NMB Bank.
"Before the project, I just sat around at home after completing my daily homestead chores without the assurance of the next meal for my family. I was completely dependent on my relatives and friends for my kids’ and my necessities, and though it bothered me, it was the norm, and we were all used to it. Through the PWC women's group, I came to realise that I have the option of living a much more independent and comfortable life while providing for my family. I am a business owner now, something I thought only Irmeek (Non-Maasai) women could do," Makuyuni group member.
PWC has also recently introduced pro-poor groups to support the very vulnerable pastoralist women. PWC identified and recruited vulnerable women who are low-income earners with the potential to join work-for-cash programming in the target districts. Participants in the pro-poor groups start with the Work-for-Cash model where they are paid to do community work, and encouraged to save part of those funds in their VICOBA group. They are gradually introduced to business and entrepreneurship skills before they graduate and are given capital to operate in the VICOBA model. PWC identified 90 women based on vulnerability from Mairowa, Makuyuni and Sakala villages to participate in this intervention. The project has paved a way towards financial independence for the women by diversifying their source of livelihood through encouraging and supporting them to recognise and seize business opportunities as individuals in their localities.
"You are the voters and determine your leadership. If you all voted for women, they would be fully engaged in political affairs, not only as special seat representatives." Ngorongoro District Commissioner Rashid Mfalme
Our Women's Rights and Leadership Forums (WRLF) are working hard to transform their community. Women learn about their rights and how to effectively claim them through engaging with local and national policies. The WRLF and community paralegals also support citizens in resolution and advise on cases of rights violations within their communities. In addition, PWC partners with the Department of Lands of the Longido and Ngorongoro District Council to facilitate pastoralists women acquiring land title certificates. We recently supported 250 women in gaining title deeds in Mairowa Village, check out the highlights from that occasion here https://youtu.be/XukG8pOcZsw.
In April 2021, PWC hosted a gathering of women in Wasso, Loliondo. The workshop involved representatives of the Ngorongoro District women’s rights and leadership forums, special seat women representatives, women community champions, paralegals, district social welfare and the police gender desk. One hundred and fifty women gathered from two districts to discuss the issues and challenges that face them in their daily lives and develop strategies to ensure women are in a safe environment and in a community that recognises their rights as women. The Ngorongoro district social welfare officer commended the efforts of PWC in reducing violence, abuse and exploitation, fighting for women's rights in regards to resource ownership, division of labour, and leadership.
In this past quarter, PWC engaged with community members in 23 Villages on our Secure Your Families Futures (SYFF) project, which is a norm change intervention aimed at addressing the harmful cultural norms and practices that deny women access to productive resources. It uses a social-ecological model, structured training, and role-modelling and storytelling to challenge harmful beliefs and norms and to co-create and reinforce positive norms.
Building their future: challenging year prompts members of Lake Natron’s Women’s Solidarity Boma to change focus
Loliondo division, a popular stopover for tourists on safari, has been impacted by significantly reduced traffic due to the pandemic.
For the women who are members of two Women’s Solidarity Bomas in the district, this has prompted some innovative alternative sources of income and an opportunity to build skills as a community.
The Women’s Solidarity Bomas are run by women in two communities in Loliondo and overseen by PWC. Bomas are a place for women to live for a year (with any children they might have) to find their feet after a marriage breakdown or other unforeseen events.
Women in the solidarity bomas support each other, share ideas regarding participation in leadership and ways to earn an income.
“The bomas are a way for women to show the men in their community that they can own property and be leaders.” Nalemuta Moisan, Solidary Boma Programme Lead said.
“They discuss women’s rights and issues in the community; if somebody has had their rights violated, they will discuss how to support them. They then go into their wider community to educate people on women’s rights.” she added.
However, with the decline in tourism due to international travel restrictions, their primary income source – selling wood carvings and jewellery to tourists passing through – has been severely impacted.
Climate smart agriculture
The women at the Lake Natron Women’s Solidarity Boma decided to take the opportunity to create infrastructure that will support them long after COVID-19.
With support of the PWC team, an irrigation plan was designed and the boma members commenced work constructing a pipe from Lake Natron into the boma.
The next step is to start growing vegetables that can be sold in town, reducing the boma members’ reliance on tourism for income.
The programme hasn’t been without it’s challenges: “There is a lot of sand around Lake Natron that we had to shift to put in the pipes. We also need to add another layer of topsoil to accommodate the healthy growth of the vegetables planted in the garden.” Nalemuta said.
The women also worked hard to improve their shopfront; planting trees for shade and a fence around the site.
“We thank PWC for how much work they have done to help us. Now that water is available for irrigation and for growing vegetables, we are able to sustain our family and provide for them despite the fact that tourists are not coming during this pandemic,” said a member of the Lake Natron Women’s Solidarity.
“Women know the programme, they are already set up to achieve. But we hope that through all of this, they will keep benefitting long after COVID-19.”
Women’s empowerment starts with education, but the approach must be holistic. Without safe spaces to learn and grow, students cannot thrive.
This year, two different PWC education programmes have been working to create education platforms for pastoral women and girls that give them the support and opportunities they need to thrive. In turn, both programmes are raising broader awareness; on the importance of education and striving for communities free from gender-based violence.
Safe and supportive foundations
Gender-based violence has been a hot topic around the world in 2020 due to sustained lockdowns and disconnection from community services. Here in Tanzania, the TAPALA programme continued to push ahead with its campaign educating girls, women and whole communities on issues relating to gender-based violence. TAPALA, which means “Stop!” in Maasai, works with schools, male and female students, families and communities on the premise that a positive education environment requires a safe space to learn.
TAPALA’s holistic approach starts with male and female students, and extend to teachers, district committees and the wider community. At the same time, structures are put in place to make school environments safe; from better fencing to addressing ways to avoid girls having to walk outside of school grounds to collect water.
Changing attitudes can take time, but TAPALA is on the right path. The number of active members of student TAPALA clubs almost doubled its target of 480; reaching 810 by the end of the financial year. Students in the clubs discuss gender-based violence issues and take part in role play learning modules. Similar activities took place at a community level.
Korduni Tinina, TAPALA programme lead, emphasised change has to happen at a community level. “There is no easy way to change community attitudes”, Korduni says.
“Now people are starting to change their attitudes because they are aware of the issue. Reporting of violence is going up – that is a key indicator that people are becoming aware. People have also seen others taken to court or prison so they know it is a serious issue.”
Adapting to 2020
School shutdowns due to COVID-19 prompted many education programmes to adapt and pivot. Like TAPALA, the Pastoral Girls Education (PGE) initiative in Loliondo changed its approach to monitor the welfare of students while supporting distance education.
The PGE programme supports two schools in Loliondo district to improve their STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) education offering. Before COVID-19, STEM clubs were established and teachers were equipped with engaging learning materials. At Emanyata Secondary School a dedicated science lab is under construction.
However, when schools to shut down to minimise the spread of COVID-19, the programme was forced to pivot. Teachers and students were provided with books and learning resources. Programme workers visited students in their homes to provide materials.
These visits also allowed programme workers and teachers to conduct welfare checks and report any safety concerns among students. Thankfully, no girls undertook forced marriage during this period.
Grace Scorey, PGE programme lead, believes one very important factor determined the PGE’s ongoing success: “It is very important that there is trust in the community. We have a mutual friendship between PWC and the community, which means we are able to visit their homes and have the conversation.”
“Now the community is sensitised on [the importance of] education. They are less likely to send girls to be married early.”
A TAPALA Google Play app, was developed for on and offline use this year, and distributed via 80 tablet devices to 8 schools. Students and teachers can use the app on a school device or their own phone to undertake modules on violence and report any incidents of concern.
The timing was perfect; without regular contact hours, student welfare was a significant concern. TAPALA programme leads worked with the Tanzanian government to identify officials available to help students in need over shutdown periods, and their contact details were provided on the app.
Both TAPALA and PGE have had to adapt to challenging circumstances this year, but both teams remain focused; their work is more important than ever.
Pastoral women have embraced economic empowerment initiatives more than ever this year, as many work to balance impacts of the economic challenges of COVID-19 with alternative sources of income.
One such challenge was the shutting of cross border business with neighbouring Kenya, limiting trade options. Pastoralist women took on this challenge and strengthened their small businesses to fill the gap.
Pastoral Women’s Council runs programs aimed at building capacity, economic empowerment, business skills development and financial literacy in building resilience and creating opportunities for pastoralist women.
PWC established 100 VICOBA (Village Community Banks) groups in local communities in Ngorongoro and Longido Districts from late 2019. This means that more than 2,500 women had access to VICOBA groups this year and were able to access and contribute to the model of shared economic support and micro-funding.
VICOBA groups are community led and organised, with 5 women working together to form the core committee. With a pool of funds sourced from VICOBA group members and donations, members make their case to the committee to receive access to loans. The modest interest repayments made on that loan help to grow the committee’s funds.
Namurru, a long-term member of the Naishiye VICOBA group, describes how the funding and business training she has received helped her to diversify her income and invest in more sustainable, less competitive markets.
[After an initial loan] “My business kept growing and I was now able to buy 50kgs of sugar, a parcel of tea leaves and 25kgs of rice... I opted to reduce sugar business and invest some money into [the] goat business because many women in my homestead bought and sold the same sugar product.”
“I was able to use part of my business profit to buy maize bran and cotton cake to feed my cows so that I could get more milk.
Updates from the Energize Project
This year, PWC also implemented the Energize project, a program that targets out of school young women to upskill them on financial literacy and provide opportunities to diversify their income to include the sale of solar products locally. The education program enrolled 101 participants this year, who received training on domestic biogas construction and solar panel installation. Of the initial cohort, 7 graduates have already been supported to start their own clean energy business.
Energize Girl Selina who lives in Malambo Village, is a talented traditional jewelry maker who was selling her wares to her neighbours and community members. Keen to diversify her income and save money to return to school, Selina applied to take part in the Energize program.
Selina is now assisting other young members of her community to better understand about saving for their goal while adapting to renewable sources of energy. She said, “I didn’t know better ways of saving, but now I have understood, and I am willing to teach others.”
In 2017, PWC started up and registered the Engishon Microfinance Fund, a social enterprise whose goal is to enhance access to affordable and flexible loans to pastoralist communities, especially women and youth, to enable them expand their businesses. In this past year, the fund continued to provide accessible loans facilities as well as business training to members of VICOBA groups. Ruth Lazaro, a young graduate from vocational training college accessed a business loan to start up her tailoring business. “Engishon Microfinance provided me with a loan of Tsh. 1,000,000 (approximately $435USD) that enabled me to buy two sewing machines, kanga fabrics, thread and other materials necessary to set up my small tailoring business.”
These interventions have been well placed to support pastoral women through the challenges and changes felt globally in 2020. With significant capacity built across communities, we look forward to seeing what women in all three programs can achieve together in 2021.
“My life was a life of struggle before I joined the VICOBA. I was working in other people’s houses earning whatever money I could get to provide for my family.
“I am the sole provider for my children. My parents used to provide some assistance but when my father passed away that support was no longer available and I also became responsible for the care of my mother. I joined the VICOBA because I saw it as an opportunity to release myself from extreme poverty. In the beginning