Bugoba Secondary School students and headmistress feeding cows grass.
There are eight schools in the Kisondela Ward that have cows onsite that students and faculty look after. This is our Cows For Kids program, in which Africa Bridge staff and partner agencies teach the children how to properly take care of the cows.
Children in the schools take great ownership of these cows; scheduling who will take care of them on weekends, feeding them, ect. Not only are the children learning about the responsibilities of taking care of an animal, they are learning life skills outside of the classroom setting that are teaching them time management, the importance of reliability, and how to raise cows.
Last week, Africa Bridge staff conducted follow-up vaccinations on all of the cows located at Kisondela Ward schools. Each school was taught deworming techniques and treatments for the cows, and encouraged to vaccinate every three months. The schools are also expecting to provide annual vaccination for diseases like anthrax, blackleg disease, and lumpy skin disease which starts from September to November each year. Empowerment Workers – community members trained to assist Africa Bridge in working with vulnerable children – and livestock officers will work collaboratively to ensure all schools are continuing to provide all required vaccines for their cows.
Photo taken by Africa Bridge Board Member Gary Grossman.
The Lufingo graduation ceremony was held on June 12th in the center of the Ward at Kalalo village. There were 338 people in attendance including, but not limited to: children, guardians, teachers, government officials, co-op members, Ward Steering Committee members, Ward Development Committee, Empowerment Workers, Most Vulnerable Children Committee (MVCC), Africa Bridge Board Members and Staff.
Julius Chalya District Commissioner of Rungwe Distraction said, “Africa Bridge has been doing a good job to support our communities …. especially for the families living in vulnerability, those families must use what they get from Africa Bridge to improve their life situation and also to support their children”. Africa Bridge staff are looking toward the future of the Ward as well. Independent contractor and co-op coordinator Noel stated, “I really liked the event, it was very nice, and what makes me feel happy is the readiness of the community leaders and community members to proceed to take over the project”.
Now that Africa Bridge’s tenure with Lufingo has been completed, it is time for the Ward to look forward at ways of sustaining our program within the community. The management of Africa Bridge’s project will now be under the supervision of the District Leader, Ward and village leadership in cooperation with MVCC’s in each village. Africa Bridge has helped bring hope and support to the people of Lufingo, encouraging brighter futures ahead. We are looking forward to seeing the Ward’s progress as they face challenges with new skills, systems, and opportunities to support the most vulnerable children.
We want to extend our deepest gratitude to Vibrant Village Foundation, Segal Foundation, Newman’s Own Foundation, and Abbott Fund for sponsoring Lufingo Ward, as well as other key stakeholders who helped support our mission. We thank you!
As you may have heard, we’re so excited to begin work in a new ward — Lufingo. And we think it’s particularly neat that we’ll be able to share each step of the process with you! We hope this will provide you with some interesting insights into the work that occurs behind the scenes.
Before we can actually start the work in Lufingo, an extensive research phase needs to happen. Stephanie and Yona have been brought on to support our Tanzanian team with just that! To get the lay of the land in Lufingo, they will be collecting lots of qualitative data through focus groups, interviews and many field visits.
Recently, Yona sat down to interview the Ward Agriculture and Livestock Officer (WALO), Victor Muhabuki in Lufingo. The goal of the interview was to gain a better understanding of the current agricultural and livestock practices and challenges in Lufingo.
So, Yona started with basic questions about what type of crops are grown, what environmental challenges the people of Lufingo are facing and what the usual farming practices are. Then these were followed up with more targeted questions designed to provide more context, like: What are the 3 major reasons why households in this village do not farm? What are the crop diseases that are of most concern here? Has there been a vaccination program for cows in this village in the past year? And many, many more.
This was just one in many interviews that Yona will be conducting, so we’re going to wait to share the results until the research has been completed. As people are wonderfully diverse and complex, there may be things that come out in the first round discussions that are surprising or even confusing. Therefore this process requires much revising and following up during the interview phase. Sometimes you hear what you think to be just one person’s opinion, but it could also be a shared idea, so until you hear that same thing from multiple groups, you need to keep asking. That’s what makes this process so extensive. As our research supervisor Stephanie said, “this process continues until you start hearing the same things from different people/groups- that’s what researchers call ‘saturation’. At that point, you’ve heard everything before, and you’re done.”
Look for more field updates of our process in Lufingo soon!
Africa Bridge started their partnership with eight villages in Masoko Ward in July of 2008. We’re now slowly approaching the end of our program with the people in Masoko and are excited to share some of the successes with you!
Let’s start with a little background, Masoko ward has an estimated population of 10,425 people. The families here live together in approximately 2,633 households, but are fairly geographically scattered. Masoko ward is rural, isolated and marked by steep ravines and streams, making it fairly difficult to get around. 4,501 of the residents in the ward are children and Africa Bridge classified 1,782 of them as Most Vulnerable during their transit walk. That’s almost 40% of all kids, which is unusually high compared to Tanzania’s national average (about 11%).
Since Africa Bridge has begun working within these communities, together with the care-takers of Most Vulnerable Children, we’ve been able to start 24 cooperatives that have been in operation now for 2 to 5 years! And that means 481 members in the maize, cow and avocado co-ops are caring for 1,157 Most Vulnerable Children.
At a recent quarterly meeting with Africa Bridge staff and the maize co-op owners, they discussed some of the accomplishments as well as the obstacles that they’ve faced in this past quarter. Some of the co-op members also reported that they had started harvesting their crops for the year, which is always good news! And, the avocado co-ops are also doing well, as Africa Bridge staff shared after their quarterly meeting.
Our staff also met with the cow co-op members, who thankfully reported that their cows continue to receive visits (and treatment if needed) from to para-vets, to help their cows stay healthy! Additionally, many of the cows are now delivering their third calves, which are going to be donated to the Most Vulnerable Children’s Committees. And, the co-op members also decided to join the Rungwe Milk Collection and Cooling Cooperative, which is selling their milk to a yogurt factory in Iringa. That should ensure a steady supply of milk sales!
As you may have read about Mpombo Ward last week, Africa Bridge has also undertaken a tree planting project with the Rungwe District Natural Resource Officer in Masoko ward. Here 460 cheerful school children helped to plant and astounding 4,000 trees!
And of course the Most Vulnerable Children’s Committees have also been very busy. The 88 volunteers have managed to serve 736 Most Vulnerable Children this quarter, and also provided 72 with new school uniforms.
We’re humbled to witness these positive changes in Masoko Ward. And it’s also wonderful to see that the co-op members and volunteers moving towards complete self-sufficiency– requiring less and less support from Africa Bridge. Thanks for all your continued perseverance, strength and hard work to make these changes happen!
Recently, Africa Bridge worked with a team of students at Portland State University to develop a pilot cell phone application to assist with gathering data in rural Tanzania. Susan Stewart and Ellen Worcester from Africa Bridge worked tirelessly with six students to make this idea a reality. For further information on the project click here.
So, here’s the inside scoop on what it’s like to work with Africa Bridge as a student.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Yuriy Krushelnytskiy, one of the extraordinary students that helped develop the cell phone app. Yuriy was finishing his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science when the opportunity to work with five other students on this project presented itself. Despite his busy schedule, which includes being a student, working two jobs while raising a family, Yuriy embraced the opportunity to help Africa Bridge.
Yuriy admits he didn’t know much about rural Tanzania before the project, and shared he was actually a little surprised to learn that they could get cell phone reception in such remote regions. As a programmer, Yuriy was responsible for writing much of the code for the app. He mentioned that working with Ellen and Susan was great. He especially appreciated their understanding, speedy feedback, continuous patience, and assistance in providing additional information.
On a personal note, Yuriy is from the Ukraine and lived there during a time of political instability and unrest in the 1990’s. He was given the opportunity for a stronger education through an American fund for youth education. This opportunity gave him a head start at becoming a programmer. He has lived in the U.S. since 1998, and believes now “it’s my turn” to give back.
After the Capstone project was completed; Yuriy and another student continue to assist Africa Bridge with the app program. As well, they have even taken on another project, which he predicts will last an additional 6-8 months.
We are grateful for Yuriy and his fellow student’s dedication to improving Africa Bridge programs! Thank you from the bottom of our heart! To find out how you can help make a difference visit our website or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
In rural Africa, people often do without electricity, running water and indoor plumbing. Many families don’t have enough pairs of shoes to go around. Regardless of income level, folks almost never have cars; a village motorbike is a luxury.
There is one thing, though, that appears more often than you might think: mobile devices. As Susan said, “You’d be surprised to see just how many people have cell phones!” Observing this, volunteers Susan Stewart and Ellen Worcester were inspired; if people were using cell phones in the villages we serve, maybe Africa Bridge could use similar technology to improve the way we work! And with that, they decided that they would find a way to marry technology with our need to gather clean, quality data.
After a rousing presentation by Susan and Ellen, a team of dedicated Portland State University computer science students selected our cell phone pilot as their ‘Capstone Project’, which allows them to work on community-centered projects in lieu of theses. The program and desktop application they made is changing the way we deliver services in Tanzania.
— These students created an application that allows census data to be collected in the field and transferred into central master files back at our Tanzanian office in Tukuyu. This paper-free process is far more accurate and less laborious than our previous system: handwritten notes. This information can also be transferred simultaneously to the US. We use cloud storage that’s accessible across continents.
— We are deploying this survey tool on the ‘transit walks’ that Africa Bridge conducts to get the data that help identify vulnerable families and populations.
— The data will be collected, stored and analyzed for current and future programs.
The collection of census data is essential to our success because we must understand who we’re working with. Having just entered Lufingo ward, this couldn’t have come at a better time.
The Tanzanian government benefits from partnership with us as well; the data we collect helps them meet their goals around keeping track of rural populations. Notably, as part of their goal, the government wants to reduce the share of the population living below the poverty line from around 50% currently to 30% by year 2015. http://www.tanzania.go.tz/poverty.html
As I write this, a pilot for the cell-phone application is being conducted. This pilot will ensure that everything works smoothly so that we can maximize our time in Lufingo. We will say more about that soon!
We’d like to give special thanks to the students at PSU who created the suite of programs that’s making our survey work possible. They continue to do work for us even though their project is long since ended– a testament to both their dedication and commitment, and the compelling nature of the work Africa Bridge does. Thanks also to Susan and Ellen for their contributions of countless hours, expertise and equipment.
As 2012 comes to an end, Africa Bridge would like to share some wonderful successes that you helped us to accomplish!
Africa Bridge is now able to clearly demonstrate the outcomes of our work with the villagers. In the spring Africa Bridge conducted a survey of 158 households in Masoko Ward, where eight villages are nearing the end of our five-year investment cycle. Under the leadership of the indefatigable Ellen Worcester, Africa Bridge compared households that had participated in Africa Bridge cooperatives for four years with households waiting to join co-ops. Co-op households were found to be significantly better off on a range of measures including nutrition, health, sanitation, and school attendance. We are extremely excited about these findings. Here are a few highlights:
Well-Being Indicators forFamilies & Children
Families eating meals three times per day in the dry season
Families eating meat, fish, or poultry three or more times per week
Children who have a mattress or a bed
Households having more than three hours per week of lamp light
Households owning a radio
Africa Bridge is extremely grateful for the continued support of donors and friends. You helped make this all possible! Thank you!
Meet Katrina, an AB-volunteerin’, Kiswahili-speakin’, hardcore researchin’ lady who’s here to tell us about some of her adventures! Katrina went to Tanzania as an Africa Bridge volunteer in 2010 to collect program information for us as part of her graduate work. Now, she’ll be helping us all learn a little more about the importance of program monitoring and evaluation in a blog series. Check out her first blog here:
Karibu na Hamjambo (Welcome and Hello)!
by Katrina Hanson
I would like to first introduce myself and then write a little more about my reasons for going to Tanzania. I grew up in a small town in rural New Hampshire with approximately 300 people. You could even call it ‘kijiji’ or village in Kiswahili if you would like.
My partner Erik and I moved to Oregon in 2008 so I could continue my education and work towards a Masters in Public Health, with a focus on International Health. This is how I met a fellow MPH student who worked and volunteered with Africa Bridge. She encouraged me to look into an internship with this wonderful organization. It didn’t take much convincing since I previously studied abroad in Kenya and always wanted to return to East Africa if time and finances allowed.
Kwa nini (Why)?
Personally, I was attracted to Africa Bridge’s mission, history, and aid methodologies. Knowing something about the organization already, I was excited to evaluate how Africa Bridge programs impact health, and to witness the effects of Africa Bridge’s economic strengthening initiatives– projects designed to give individuals the tools and resources necessary to increase prosperity for themselves and for their communities. Monitoring and evaluation of this kind of work, especially work done in developing countries like East Africa, is totally essential. We have to find out how the programs are helping and where they need improvement. The Tanzanian villages Africa Bridge serves are a perfect place to do that kind of research!
There will be more posts to come. Until then, I encourage you to learn more about this small but powerful organization. Kwaheri kwa sasa (goodbye for now!)