In Tanzania, about 80 percent of the population depend on agriculture and often irregular rain patterns for their livelihood. The weather can be harsh and unpredictable with seasonal rain patterns being capable of resulting in damaging floods or multi-year droughts.
“Sometimes we would stay idle all year, praying for rain,” says Masud Mahajire, Suli Village Executive Officer. “If there was no rain then there was no work to do.”
Suli is a small, sparsely populated village in the semi-arid region of Dodoma in central Tanzania. Along with its neighbouring villages, Fufu and Chiboli, Suli is part of World Food Programme’s (WFP) Saemaul Zero Hunger Communities (SZHC) pilot.
“Before the project started, our workforce was moving away to search for opportunities, but now we’ve reached a point where people are coming here and looking for jobs.”
The project, funded by the Republic of Korea, is based on Saemaul Undong (the New Village Movement), which was implemented in the Republic of Korea in the 1970s. Saemaul Undong successfully contributed to poverty reduction in rural areas through community-driven development projects.
Based on the community’s needs, the SZHC project helps villages plan and build community assets such as rainwater harvesting tanks, borehole wells, teacher housing, community centres, warehouses, sesame seed processing equipment and rainwater catchment dams.
For some of these construction projects, the SZHC project utilizes WFP’s Food Assistance for Asset Creation (FFA) programme. Under the programme, participants receive much needed food – maize meal, beans and vegetable oil – in exchange for a specific amount of work. These construction projects coincide with the lean season where families often can struggle with food insecurity.
In Fufu village, beneficiaries excavate soil to build up the embankment for a rainwater catchment dam. Photo: WFP/Byungchul Lee
“Before the project started, our workforce was moving away to search for opportunities,” says Masud. “But now we’ve reached a point where people are coming here and looking for jobs.”
Programmes under the SZHC Project include bee and livestock keeping, brick-making, sesame cultivation and village savings and loan groups.
“By helping communities build their capacity and infrastructures while diversifying their income opportunities, SZHC Project reduces the community’s dependence on rain fed agriculture and builds resilience against the often harsh climatic conditions,” says Byungchul Lee, WFP Programme Officer.
Another focus of the project is to include women, who traditionally in Suli, are dependent on their husbands and fathers for their livelihood and are typically unable to own property.
One of the participants is Luja Doto, a 23 year old farmer’s wife and mother of three young daughters.
Luja Doto, a SZHC project beneficiary, has used profits from her chicken project to invest in raising goats and improving the education opportunities for her daughters. Photo: WFP/Byungchul Lee
“If you had seen us before the project, we were poor and we were struggling. My husband had a few items, but I didn’t own anything,” says Luja. “Now, I have livestock, our home is full of utensils and dishes and we can afford clothes for our daughters to go to school.”
In less than a year after being provided with chicks as part of a women’s chicken keeping group, Luja now has over 30 full-grown fowl and has given 10 chicks to another woman in the village so that she can start her own chicken project.
“I was happy to give someone else chickens and the chance to change her life, just like the project did for me,” says Luja. “To grow as a community we need to work together.”
Luja, in addition to buying home supplies, has reinvested her profits in goats who have already started giving birth and providing additional income. Luja says her plan is to save up enough money to buy cows which will increase capital and help her ensure that she has enough money for the continued education of her daughters.
“It’s all thanks to Korea and WFP. Our village is so different now. It feels like anything is possible.”
“These days it feels like any trade you want to do, you can learn how to do it here,” says Masud. “You can’t control the weather, but that doesn’t mean you have to remain poor or that your children can’t be better off than you were.”
Other participants in the SZHC project have used their profits to upgrade the grass roofs of their houses or to buy draft animals and ploughs, further improving efficiency and income opportunities.
“It’s all thanks to Korea and WFP,” says Luja. “Our village is so different now. It feels like anything is possible.”
SZHC income generating activities like Luja’s chicken group are implemented in partnership with Korean non-governmental organization Good Neighbours International. In total, the SZHC project helps fight hunger and build resilience for over 12,000 people throughout the three pilot villages. Photo: WFP/Byungchul Lee