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Electricity Coverage Rising in AfricaIt is hard to imagine life without electricity. In the American standard of living, electricity pervades every aspect of a person’s life, from food storage to entertainment and everything in between. In Africa, however, only 30 percent of people have access to electricity.

Power Africa

Power Africa is a USAID agency that aims to provide people in Africa with access to electricity. They plan to make 60 new electricity connections and generate 30,000 more megawatts (MW) of electricity across the continent by 2030. The goal is to do this by harnessing the sun, wind, lake water, and natural gas to power rural areas that do not have access to electricity.

Power Africa tracks its progress on various projects by tracking business transactions with African power companies. For example, in 2016, they made a deal with the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative (ACEF), the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), and the U.S. Department of State to provide $30 million worth of financing of 32 renewable energy projects in 10 countries in Africa. With Power Africa’s help, 90 business transactions have been completed and 25 of Africa’s 55 countries now have access to some form of electricity. Examples from Power Africa actions are described in a text below.

Mali

Although the demand for electricity in Mali is currently greater than the supply, that does not mean that there is no supply at all. Electricity in Mali currently comes from mostly hydraulic and thermal energy (55 and 44 percent, respectively). Power Africa plans to help Mali produce an additional 80 MW of hydroelectric energy, more than 300 MW from biomass, and unlimited MW from the sun.

Electricity usage has already gone up in Mali. Major mining companies increased their energy consumption by 136 MW (189 percent) between 2008 and 2011. In 2016, the government passed a law mandating partnerships between public and private electric companies in order to increase MW production. The ultimate goal is to make an additional 20,000 MW of energy and distribute it to 50 million people by 2020.

Namibia

Currently, Namibia gets most of its electricity from power grids in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and other nearby countries. However, electricity demand in these countries is way higher than supply, forcing Namibia to find ways to generate its own electricity. As of 2008, Namibia can only generate 393 MW from 3 stations, while the national demand is 533 MW.

One of these stations, the Ruacana power station, is dependent on the flow of water from the Kunene River, which flows out of Angola. Another station, the coal-run Eck power station, is costly to operate and maintain. Eck, along with the oil-based Paratus power station, is only used for short-term peaks in electricity demand.

For the time being, Namibia still needs to have its electricity needs met by its neighbors. The Caprivi link is a transmission line that connects Namibia’s power grid to those in Zambia and Zimbabwe. This provides the country with an additional 600 MW, fulfilling Namibia’s electricity needs. In 2007, Namibia consumed 3.6 TWh of electricity.

Tanzania

Most of Tanzania’s electricity (90 percent) comes from biomass. This has resulted in mass deforestation and, thus, is far from ideal for the ecosystem. Only 18.4 percent of Tanzanian citizens have access to electricity in any form. Currently, the country is financially incapable of extending the power grid into all rural areas.

In 1975, the government founded the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Ltd (TANESCO). TANESCO has a nationwide monopoly on electricity production and distribution. However, the Ministry of Energy and Minerals (MEM) is trying to end this monopoly by allowing companies to get licenses to generate, transmit and distribute electricity. The Rural Energy Agency (REA) is slowly getting electricity into rural areas. With these services, the government aims to make electricity available to everyone in Tanzania, and one can see electricity coverage rising from their efforts.

Conclusion

In the modern day, electricity seems like a basic ingredient for life that it seems like everyone should have it. The people in Power Africa agree and we can see electricity coverage rising in Africa as a result of their efforts. Mali is making more energy from more sources than ever, Namibia is starting to make its own electricity, and Tanzania is spreading electricity out as far as it can. Africa is becoming more and more electrified, reaching the ultimate goal- provide access to electricity for everyone on the continent.

– Cassie Parvaz
Photo: Flickr

global health security agendaThe Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) is a partnership of nations, international organizations and NGOs that are seeking to keep the world safe from infectious diseases and maintain health security as a main global priority. The program launched in 2014 as a five-year initiative to increase country-level health security to stop disease outbreaks at their source.

In October 2017, GHSA was extended until 2024. This extension will allow the global health community to enhance data sharing, preparedness planning, epidemiological and laboratory surveillance, risk assessment and response to infectious diseases and other health issues and threats.

The Global Health Security Agenda has created a set of eleven targets and an assessment tool, which is currently being carried out in five countries: Georgia, Peru, Portugal, Uganda and the United Kingdom. In the organization’s assessment of Georgia, it noted that zoonotic diseases are a problem, as 60 percent of human pathogens are zoonotic. Much of the diseases seen in humans within the country are of animal origin, spreading, for example, through contact with veterinarians. These assessment reports contain information about immunization, biosafety and biosecurity and real-time surveillance among other things.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes that global health security strengthens United States security. The CDC works in association with GHSA to combat disease worldwide. The organization currently has partnerships with 31 countries, including the Caribbean, that are working to meet the goals of GHSA. The CDC has established Global Disease Detection Centers around the world, providing assistance to over 2,000 requests for disease outbreaks and creating more than 380 diagnostic tests in laboratories of 59 countries.

GHSA has had success stories in many countries, including Tanzania. The nation’s government is determined to play a role in ensuring GHSA’s success, both nationally and internationally. Tanzania joined the program back in August 2015, and in February 2016, it became the first country to use the Joint External Evaluation to assess its 19 capacities to prevent, detect and respond to public health issues.

In a formal event, Tanzania also launched the National Action Plan for Health Security. Held on September 8, 2017, the event was well attended, including guests such as USAID, the World Bank and the World Health Organization.

The fight to keep the world safe from disease may still be a long road, but with programs like the Global Health Security Agenda, the future seems promising.

– Blake Chambers

Photo: Flickr

Development ProjectsWe have all been exposed to effective development projects, as well as to ineffective development projects. Sometimes these look like carefully constructed and well-funded projects created by NGOs, and sometimes they are drives created by high school students to help disaster victims. The scale and scope are not necessarily the key determinants for whether or not a development project will be effective. The following areas are useful to consider in order to create a development project, large or small, that does the most good for the most people.

Participation
“Participation is involvement by a local population and, at times, other stakeholders in the creation, content or conduct of a program or policy designed to change their lives.”

In other words, participation is placing the input of a local population at the forefront of the process of creating effective development projects. If a project is going to affect them and address their needs, they must have the primary say in tailoring it to their situation.

Needs Assessment
Needs assessment goes hand in hand with participation – it is most effective when the target population shares their needs, instead of projecting a set of presumed needs onto them.

By involving people in the process, development organizations can hear from the local population and find out exactly what needs they most want to address.

Cultural Sensitivity
Cultural sensitivity is the awareness of another culture’s norms and traditions and the ways in which they differ from your own. If you do not understand a community’s culture, it is difficult to develop solutions. For example, if a predominantly Muslim community was experiencing a food shortage, teaching them to raise pigs would not be a culturally sensitive or effective solution.

Gender Equality
Men and women often have different needs in a community based on the distinct roles they play. Sometimes women need to be specifically empowered in order to overcome gender disparities. It is important to consider gender dynamics in a development project. Will this project produce greater gender equality? Will it exacerbate inequality? Will it help or harm women or men disproportionately? These are all important questions to ask.

Accountability
Effective development projects must hold themselves accountable to the people they are trying to help, to the government of the local population, to any NGOs they are partnering with and to their donors. To avoid issues like inefficiency, resentment, unmet needs or corruption, all stakeholders should communicate and be held accountable for their agreements.

Capacity Building
Capacity building is “those sets of activities in which vested parties develop the ability to effectively take part in governance.” In other words, it is helping a community develop the skills to help themselves after a development project or organization pulls out of the region. Like everything else in this list, capacity building should be country specific and meet the needs of the target population. Effective capacity building can lead to more sustainable projects.

This all seems very nebulous and difficult to juggle – and in some ways, it is. No organization does all of this perfectly. So, what does this look like in practice? If you decide you want your school to help improve education for children in a particular village in Tanzania, you should ask yourself a few questions when deciding what to do. What do these children actually need? Is it resources? Textbooks and supplies? Transportation to and from far away schools? If they need books, on what subjects? In what language? How will you get them there, and how will they be processed once they arrive?

The main take away is this – if you are struggling with questions like these while trying to create effective development projects, the best people to ask are the children in Tanzania. They know exactly what they need and you should listen to them.

Olivia Bradley

Photo: Flickr

Student Essay Contests Spread HIV Awareness in Tanzania
The most recent USAID report on HIV awareness in Tanzania shows improvement, with more than 1.8 million people in the 2016 fiscal year receiving HIV testing and counseling. The local nonprofit Pretty Development for Poverty Reduction (PDPR) is focusing on HIV awareness outside of U.S. intervention, though, and one of the ways they are doing so is having secondary education students in Tanzania compete in an essay contest about the risks of the disease and how to prevent it.

Though they operate across Tanzania, PDPR is based out of the Njombe district, where HIV is more prevalent than anywhere else in the country. For reference, in Zanzibar, prevalence is .2 percent, while in Njombe, it is 15.4 percent.

More than one million people were living with HIV/AIDS in Tanzania in 2015. This number is high, but new infections have declined 20 percent in the past five years, and there are half as many annual fatalities now than in 2010.  This indicates that awareness and prevention programs are benefiting the country.

In addition to writing about HIV/AIDS, the students are encouraged to explore the topics of globalization and climate change. PDPR hopes this range of issues will help young citizens gain determination to develop a better world.

PDPR focuses their efforts in rural areas where they can reach the women, children, small-scale farmers and businessmen, the most marginalized and impoverished groups in Tanzania.

They work under the Njombe District Non-governmental Organization (NJODINGO), and as they continue to allocate funds hope to organize vocational training programs, farmers organizations, civic education and a radio station.

The essay contest, spreading HIV awareness in Tanzania, is one of many ways that PDPR hopes to instill a sense of civic responsibility in the youth of the Njombe district and the whole country. Through implementing new ways to achieve awareness, only positive change can result.

Brooke Clayton

Photo: Flickr


Due to widespread pollution, the water quality in Tanzania is poor. While the nation as a whole is affected, cities on the coast receive the most contaminated water because of insufficient sewage regulation.

Untreated sewage is often deposited into the sea, polluting the country’s coastal waters. Not only does this threaten marine biodiversity, but it has spread diseases on land as well. Salim M. Mohammed, a researcher at the University of Dar es Salaam, says that the most common of these diseases are diarrhea, gastroenteritis, cholera and dysentery, all of which can cause death under certain circumstances.

Sewage mismanagement occurs inland as well, although the dynamics vary. Ground wells, which provide water to some Tanzanians, are often contaminated by leaks from drainage systems. As a result, the water often contains fecal matter that people have no choice but to drink from, bathe in or wash their clothes in, as reported by The Water Project.

Aside from domestic waste, these coastal cities often experience industrial pollution as well. For example, debris may stem from textile production, oil and gas regulation or food processing that affects the quality of the water.

And while coastal cities may suffer from dirtier water, other coastal areas experience contamination as well. The difference comes, as Mohammed states, in that these residents suffer from the input of agricultural wastes, such as pesticides and fertilizers, via rivers and streams compared to domestic or industrial wastes.

While water purification is a complex issue, the immediate solution would involve an improvement in sewage regulation. The government of Tanzania needs to build more sewerage systems, and governmental policies must ensure its widespread implementation. Otherwise, only a small percentage of the population will continue to have access to these systems.

Likewise, similar policies must be enforced to ensure that industrial and agricultural waste does not pollute the water. If such methods are executed through the strategic use of financial resources, it is certain that the water quality in Tanzania will improve.

Gigi DeLorenzo

Photo: Flickr

Farm Africa
Farm Africa is the top agency under the Food Trade project, a U.K. government funded food crop trade enhancement program that assists farmers in Uganda and Tanzania to increase their household incomes and boost their living standards.

The undertaking is supported by a £3 million ($4.2 million) grant from the U.K.’s Department for International Development (DFID). The Guardian reports that the project will benefit 70,000 Ugandan and Tanzanian farmers, in part by expanding their export markets.

According to Farm Africa, 60 percent of the world’s uncultivated land suitable for crop production is in Africa. There is an enormous possibility for development in the continent that would allow for self-sustaining food production.

In the last year, Farm Africa has impacted 1.4 million people in eastern Africa. The organization has incorporated contemporary systems and methods to help farmers “grow more, sell more and sell for more.”

The Farm Africa project will assist Ugandan and Tanzanian farmers manage and supply exceptional quality grain and market it for maximum profit.

The project will help 12,000 farmers in the Teso sub-region, including 2,000 members of the Katine Joint Farmers’ Co-operative Society (Kajofaco). This will allow more isolated farmers to connect with high paying buyers, particularly in Kenya.

The Kenyan market has a large population and booming economy which is key for the success of Ugandan and Tanzanian farmers. Additionally, Kenya, for the most part, is a food importer due to its mediocre crop growing capabilities.

Farm Africa, through the Food Trade project, will train farmers in Katine which is one of the poorest areas is in Uganda. The agency will provide guidance for improving methods of harvesting, drying, sorting and grading grain in three staple crops: maize, rice and beans.

Steve Ball, Farm Africa’s county director in Tanzania said to The Guardian: “By incentivizing farmers to grow bigger surpluses and making regional trade easy and affordable, this project will help lift tens of thousands of grain farmers in Tanzania and Uganda out of poverty as well as taking eastern Africa a step closer to agricultural self-sufficiency.”

Heidi Grossman

Photo: Flickr

end hunger in AfricaWhen Sirjeff Dennis was 17, he founded Jefren Agrifriend Solutions, a poultry business working to end hunger in Africa and eradicate poverty. A student at the University of Dar es Salaam, Dennis uses his leadership and knowledge to successfully run the organization while finding innovative ways to end hunger-related hardships.

Jefren Agrifriend Solutions works by providing communities in Tanzania with affordable chicken meat and eggs. Dennis was inspired at a young age to counter hunger after witnessing the death of a neighbor’s seven-month-old son, who passed from malnutrition.

Dennis founded the organization by saving the money he earned from joining Tanzania’s compulsory national service’s training program.

He earned $20 a month and was in the program for three months. Instead of spending the money on clothes or personal items, he put it away in hopes of starting the business.

At the end of the program, he used the money to purchase chickens and raise chickens in his yard.

Dennis was soon accepted into a local university and had received a small loan from the government to pay for school. The young entrepreneur used as little money from the loan as he could, living off of mostly bread and water for several months, so he could save for the business.

Thanks to his sacrifice, the business now produces roughly 2,000 chickens a month. Dennis markets poultry to informal traders, who sell the produce at nearly half the price of their competitors. This allows locals to purchase a good supply of food at a more affordable price.

Although the company has helped improve the slums of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania significantly, there have been many issues Dennis was forced to overcome.

When he was 18, he left the business in the hands of an employee while he studied at university. Unfortunately, the chickens went unattended and all died from a severe disease when Dennis returned from school.

However, he quickly overcame the situation by raising money to purchase more chickens. Now, nearly four years later, the company continues to thrive in Tanzania.

Last year, Dennis became one of 12 finalists for the Anzisha Prize, Africa’s premier award for young entrepreneurs.

He believes poultry and vegetable farming is the start of a more nutritional and profitable future in the fight to end hunger in Africa.

Julia Hettiger

Photo: Flickr

Poverty FreeEmerge Poverty Free is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to break the cycle of poverty by enabling communities to take control of their own needs.

In partnership with a local organization, Sustainable Investments and Development Initiatives (SIDI), Emerge Poverty Free has begun a project in Mwanza, Tanzania to empower hundreds of fisher-women through economic and environmental conservation projects.

Tanzania is known as one of the world’s least developed rural countries, where 40 percent of the adult population earns less than 1.25 USD per day.

The goals of the Sustainable Fisheries in Mwanza project are to enable women to become self-sustainable while also improving the environment of Lake Victoria that is threatened by pollution and excessive fishing.

To reach these goals, 250 women from the Kabusuli village of the Sengerema District in Mwanza have been trained in fish farming and healthcare. The group hopes to plant 10,000 trees along the Lake Victoria shore at the end of the project.

These trees will eventually be used to provide local families with wood for cooking and building materials to reduce deforestation.

Though a fairly new project, Emerge Poverty Free reports that women involved in the group have already doubled their daily incomes by selling fish within their communities during the past 10 months.

According to Aneta Dodo, secretary of the Sustainable Fisheries in Mwanza, the group has planted 6,000 trees, created five fish ponds for domestic use and local sale that have brought high profits — and a portion of the money earned by these women funded school tuition for 30 local children.

“We have gained a lot of expertise in finance issues, fishing, environmental conservation and we are able to do most things by ourselves without having to depend on men,” she said.

Dodo reports that the group was able to secure low-interest rate loans after the group started a saving and credit facility in their village of Kabusuli.

Despite these successes, the women of Tanzania still face many economic challenges — girls have higher education drop-out rates than young men and have limited access to medical care and employment, according to Emerge Poverty Free.

Group member Asha Malando does not see these statistics as an end-all and believes that women are still capable of empowering themselves by becoming involved in community projects.

“The government cannot do everything for us. We just have to use some of these organizations well so we can develop ourselves.”

Coleta Masesla, a female fisher in Tanzania, is now able to run her own food kiosk that provides income for her children’s education and home essentials like food and clothing.

“These women have become great role models in their community as they have proved that everything is possible. Most of them had lost hope but right now they are the ones running their families. We at Emerge Poverty Free are pleased by the attitude they have shown toward lifting themselves out of poverty,” stated Jeremey Horner, Emerge Poverty Free CEO.

Kelsey Lay

Sources: Emerge Poverty Free 1, Emerge Poverty Free 2, IPP Media, The Daily News
Photo: Flickr

Tanzania-Child-Survival-Goal

Millennium Development Goal 4: “Reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate.”

Tanzania is one of the only African countries that has achieved this goal. There is much to celebrate with the country’s accomplishment; however, we must not ignore other critical areas of work that need prioritization. A thorough analysis of the efforts in Tanzania is important to understand what strategies have been effective in the region,

Successes in Tanzania:

  • Reduction in child deaths after first month of life
  • 12,500 lives saved thanks to vaccines
  • 9,300 lives saved from malaria programs
  • 5,800 lives saved from HIV/AIDS programs

Areas for Improvement:

  • Maternal and newborn survival can be improved
  • Reduction of stillbirths needed
  • Low contraceptive use in Western and Lake Zones
  • Rural poor lack access to health services
  • Shortage of health workers

The achievement of MDG4 is significant in Tanzania. Child deaths after one month of life have decreased at a rate of 8 percent per year during the last decade. This is 50 percent faster than in the 1990s.

Most lives have been saved from programs that increase access to vaccines, address malaria and work to decrease the spread of HIV/AIDS. These types of programs have received the most funding, and therefore these results should be expected.

In Tanzania, 40 percent of national child deaths are newborns. This indicates a need to improve health services in the critical time surrounding childbirth.

Rural women are twice as likely to deliver their children in private homes versus health facilities. Estimates indicate that Tanzania needs 23 health workers per 10,000 people, but Tanzania currently only has five health workers per 10,000 people.

It is evident that portions of the population have not benefitted from some of the improvements Tanzania has experienced as a country. The identification of these categories of people is critical in order to further decrease mortality rates in the country.

High mortality rates slow the rate of development of entire communities and prevent poverty-stricken families from obtaining enough resources to support themselves.

The good news is that this case study of Tanzania estimates that “60,000 lives could be saved each year with intensified efforts to achieve universal access to essential health services.”

Iliana Lang

Sources: WHO, The Lancet, UNDP
Photo: Global Post

Irrigation_Policy
For millions of people around the world, irrigation has provided a means of subsistence and economic opportunity in the form of small-scale farming operations. But for rural farmers in Tanzania’s agriculture-intensive regions, irrigation policy has become a source of controversy and economic uncertainty.

The most recent controversy was born out of the Tanzanian government’s plans to ban economic activity, including small-scale farming operations, from taking place near reservoirs and other “listed water resources.” The ban is an attempt to reduce competition for water in reaction to a recent drought-induced hydropower shortage.

The recent drought has struck a major blow to the country’s national power grid, 57 percent of which is generated by hydropower. The drought alone has been devastating for Tanzanian agriculture: of the country’s 29.4 million hectares of irrigable land, under 600,000 are currently being irrigated. Combined with the government’s recent ban on reservoir-sourced irrigation, many farmers face the prospects of lost livelihoods.

“I have been farming in this area all my life,” said Eliudi Samizi, a rice farmer who relies on irrigation from the Great Ruaha River. “If someone asks me to stop fishing or farming, what else can I do to feed my family?”

The government’s decision to limit water usage is a reaction to state-run power company TANESCO’s request to evict local communities that it claims overuse the water resources near its hydropower plants. Last year, President Jakaya Kikwete called for the eviction of farmers in the Uluguru region, reversing a decision made six years ago during a similarly problematic period.

While bans on irrigation have been temporary in recent years, TANESCO’s request would make those bans permanent, resulting in total uncertainty regarding the future income of Tanzanian farmers.

In 2006, farmers were threatened with eviction from the Uluguru Mountain, having been accused of damaging the environment and threatening the availability of urban water. They were allowed to stay only after an appeal to President Kikwete, but today their future remains uncertain, as demonstrated by the government’s recent compliance with eviction efforts from private investors and entities like TANESCO.

According to Elizabeth Harrison and Anna Mdee, development researchers at the Universities of Sussex and Bradford, these policy proposals are part of a broader trend throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, one that has seen the prioritization of large-scale commercial operations at the expense of small-scale communities.

“The politics of irrigation development in Tanzania sadly mirrors this: the favouring of large schemes that attract significant donor support, coupled with the problems of managing this at a local level,” they wrote in an article for The Guardian. “Unfortunately for farmers like those in Choma, it seems that no matter how significant the social or economic benefits of their less formal practices, the politics is likely to continue to lead to them being dismissed by those in authority.”

Indeed, large-scale operations driven by private investment are often sold on the claim that they will serve to benefit the most vulnerable Tanzanian farmers. But a recent resettlement process led by KPL, a subsidiary of British-based agribusiness giant Agrica, resulted in the displacement of 230 farmers, many of whom were vastly undercompensated. Some were given merely $17 per acre, a fraction of the $600 for which an acre can be purchased in neighboring Zambia.

“When they came here, they told me that if I provided land for KPL they would build me a new house,” said a villager from Tanzania’s Kilombero District. “But they did not do that; they just threw us out of there and gave us a little money in order to survive.”

Millions of dollars of aid contributed by countries like England and the United States continues to subsidize corporate investment in operations like that outlined above. The current politicization of irrigation in Tanzania represents an opportunity to alter the flow of aid in favor of operations that will prioritize the well being of the small-scale farmers whom donors claim to help. It also provides an opportunity for investment in renewable energy alternatives, like the Lake Turkina Wind Project in Kenya, which would relieve Tanzania’s allocation of water to its national power grid. Until that happens, rural farmers will continue to face economic uncertainty at the hands of corporate interests.

Zach VeShancey

Sources: The Guardian, News 24, Reuters, New Internationalist
Photo: The Guardian