Maji Safi Group (MSG) seeks to help solve the persistent and devastating problems of rural poverty in Tanzania through holistic and cross-sectoral solutions like community centers (WASH Hubs) and the employment of local leaders as community educators (CHEs) in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and agriculture.
For 10 years, women have been at the center of Maji Safi Group’s work, leading the efforts to educate about healthy WASH practices and the importance of public health in the community, in businesses, at schools, with fishers, and at health care facilities. Careful monitoring through five years of annual Health Screenings have demonstrated the reduction in rates of water-related diseases in community members who have received this education.
Agriculture in Tanzania and the Rorya District
Tanzania, including the Rorya District where MSG works, is rich in arable land, water resources, and diverse agro-ecological zones. Despite this potential, food security remains a major challenge, with over 11 million (17%) Tanzanians facing chronic food insecurity (2023 population 64,701,175). Factors such as climate change, pests and diseases, and low agricultural productivity contribute to this problem. Supporting small-scale farmers to address these challenges is critical to ensuring sustainable agriculture and food security in Tanzania.
- According to the Rorya District council, about 85% of district inhabitants depend on agriculture and livestock keeping to earn their income.
- Both local and national government are focused on improving food security through improved agriculture practices and production.
- The majority of residents get their water from Lake Victoria, the Mara River Basin, seasonal streams and ponds, or sources far from where they live.
- Waterborne and water-related diseases, such as cholera, schistosomiasis, typhoid, malaria, bacillary dysentery, and amoebic dysentery, constitute a major health burden in the Rorya District.
Community Health and Improved Agriculture
For the past decade, Maji Safi Group has employed a cadre of full-time community health educators (CHEs) from the community who teach in various settings about disease transmission, hygiene, and healthy habits to improve personal and public health. Using the successful model of International Development Enterprise’s (iDE) Farm Business Advisors, Maji Safi Group will now start training Agriculture Extension Workers (AEWs) to teach effective farming strategies, introduce modern technologies, and work together to increase yields using sustainable methods. In tandem with the MSG’s lifesaving health education, improving agriculture will create more holistic and beneficial services for the communities we work with. Empowering female agricultural entrepreneurs, an important facet in improving gender equality and creating more equitable and sustainable food security in the region, will be emphasized.
Role of the WASH HUB
Computer-generated design of WASH Hub. So far, MSG has established a borehole and built a laundry block and an office building.
The vision of the WASH Hub is to create a community gathering point and a resource for reducing poverty, learning more productive technologies, creating sustainable agricultural practices, and improving personal and public health.
The WASH Hub provides a community center where residents of the Rorya District can access clean water, saving them time and minimizing the risk of waterborne diseases. Solar power will be used to sanitize water and to power pumps and other infrastructure.
The WASH Hub will also provide a gathering place where MSG’s staff, drawn from the local community, can provide training and support on community sanitation and household hygiene, enabling families to make the most of the WASH Hub in preventing illness at home. Our CHEs have already built considerable buy-in and trust in the community, and the program will be improved on an on-going basis through consistent application of learning from rigorous monitoring and evaluation of our efforts.
Together with MSG staff, the Ward Counselor officially opened the initial phase of our WASH Hub on March 7, 2023.
Critically, the WASH Hub will provide services to farmers. It will provide access to fertilizer, seeds, and support for improvements in crop irrigation. A greenhouse will provide food for a health food canteen and serve as a laboratory for demonstrating indoor growing techniques for local farmers. Farmers will be able to rent large equipment owned by the WASH Hub to make plowing and other tasks more efficient and increase productivity.
MSG will hire and train a team of Agricultural Extension Workers (AEWs) to support these efforts, using the community-based model we have developed over the past decade. The AEWs will consult with farmers about the products and services they need and provide extensive training to farmers to help them adopt more effective agricultural and agro-forestry practices that will improve yields and preserve and regenerate their lands.
Maji Safi Group’s WASH Hub model will bring people together to work collectively to improve health, reduce poverty, and improve food security. The AEWs and CHEs will be the key to integrating this multi-sectoral project for improvement in their communities.