The MSU Tanzania Partnership Program (TPP) is a long-term collaborative alliance of local and international organizations dedicated to improving local livelihoods and promoting community resiliency in Tanzania. TPP addresses community-identified needs through a participatory and integrated approach that draws on local and international expertise. This approach provides fertile ground for development related research, forms the foundation for development activities, and opens a space for a community engagement-focused study aboard program. TPP began its work in two pilot villages in 2009—Milola, in the southern region of Lindi, and Naitolia, in the northern region of Arusha. In 2015, TPP began to expand its efforts to adjacent villages. With support from TPP funders, including the program’s primary funders Gerald A. and Karen A. Kolschowsky, and overseas partners, TPP is making a difference in these communities by promoting increased access to quality education; improving health, sanitation, and hygiene; supporting greater access to and better quality of water; increasing agricultural production and food security; and improving animal health and productivity.
Since 2015, TPP has supported research on girls’ education, early childhood education, and teacher professional development. This research coupled with the communities’ requests for TPP assistance resulted in several educational activities.
TPP has continued to support school farms that provide food for school feeding programs at pre-primary and primary schools in the two villages. In Milola, parents, teachers, and students grow maize and beans for food and sesame for sale. Proceeds from the sales go to purchase additional food. The northern village of Naitolia is in a drought-prone region of the country. Parents and students started a 3 acre school farm to grow drought-tolerant crops such as green gram, a high-protein legume, and ngwara, a drought resistant cow pea. Parents also contributed to the school feeding program with donations of maize and beans. If crops fail due to lack of rains, TPP is ready to provide help by purchasing food to ensure that pupils get a least one meal a day.
In Ngwenya, a subvillage of Milola, TPP supported the construction of a duplex for teachers at the pre-primary school, which was built by TPP in 2013. Prior to completion of the housing units, the teacher was walking over 5 miles to the new school. Each housing unit includes a kitchen, living area, latrine, rainwater harvesting system, and solar electricity. The school is serving a remote area of Milola where few, if any, children had gone to school. When the school opened, 92 children enrolled. Now there are three grades with 103 pupils and 3 teachers. The villagers constructed a two-room
temporary classroom from local materials to house the additional grades. At the same time, TPP provided funds to construct a school kitchen with a fuel efficient stove; mothers volunteer to cook the school lunches and collect firewood.
To ensure a high quality education, teachers and students need support from effective school managers. In 2015, TPP provided the secondary school board, primary school leaders, and primary school committees with training on effective school management, communications, and decision-making.
TPP has implemented a new pilot project to improve maternal and infant mortality rates: Access to Safer Childbirth in Rural Tanzania. The project aims to educate to women on reproductive health and safe delivery methods, encourage them to give birth at the local clinic, and provide delivery kits with the supplies needed during delivery. The kits, containing antibacterial soap, hand sanitizer, menstrual pads, string, razor blades, plastic gloves, and baby blankets, will be handed out during pre-natal visits, with the hope that the women will return to the clinic for additional prenatal and perinatal care, as well as for delivery.
In Tanzania, only 38 percent of schools have latrines, while only 10 percent have hand washing facilities; Milola is no exception. In 2015, TPP constructed three ventilated improved pit latrines, one at each school. The outside of the latrines are painted with colorful educational murals explaining the importance of proper sanitation and hygiene. Next to the latrine doors are handwashing stations to improve hygiene and help reduce the spread of communicable diseases.
Naitolia is an agropastoralist community. Zoonotic diseases—diseases that pass from animals to humans—are a constant threat. In 2014, TPP, along with the Naitolia community and Monduli District government, built a cattle dip to reduce the incidence of tick-borne diseases. The dip is managed by trained community animal health workers and the newly created animal health committee. This year, more than 34,300 cattle, goats, and sheep have been treated at the dip.
TPP employs a model of integrated evidenced-based research and development that leverages collaboration between Tanzanian and MSU researchers to expand knowledge while informing the practice of development. Research awards are given to MSU graduate students and faculty from the University of Dar es Salaam College of Education with projects focused on issues of community health, education, natural resource conservation, and land use. Recent projects included:
TPP’s innovative collaborative approach to sustainable development has brought about remarkable changes in Milola and Naitolia. The facilitated engagement and collaboration among MSU and international researchers, students, and community members continues to shape a positive future for these Tanzanian villages. For more information about the Tanzania Partnership Program, please visit their website at http://pscd.isp.msu.edu.