Tag Archives: Daraja

Who (and what) is Tanzania’s public education system for?

If the goal is simply to get children into schools, Tanzania’s education sector deserves (and receives) full credit. But if we want those children to actually learn something, getting them into school is only the first (and easiest) step. Unless that is followed up with well-trained and fairly paid teachers and money for text books and other teaching equipment, those children aren’t going to learn much. And if they’re not learning, what’s the point of the children being there?

A few weeks ago on this blog we shared Kwanza Jamii Njombe’s investigation on the Primary Education Capitation Grant – a grant to each school of 10,000/- per pupil per year, for spending by the schools on text books, teaching materials, etc. Our report revealed some shocking findings – and which has provoked a stern response from the Council Education Department (of which more will be posted here as the story develops). Schools were found to be receiving only around 10% of the amount specified in policy. Continue reading

Revolution in Magoda? Citizens’ agency in practice, but not quite as expected

“Magoda Wafanya Mapinduzi” (Revolution in Magoda) was the front page headline on the very first issue of Daraja’s Kwanza Jamii Njombe newspaper when it was launched last year. (See below for the full article as it was published). Residents of Magoda village, 20km from Njombe town, grew tired of waiting for a government-funded water project and decided to go it alone, paying for the project and doing all the work themselves. At the time it felt a little bit like we were over-hyping the story with that headline, but some more recent developments suggests that it might have been just right. We’ll come to that in a moment, but first some background.

Magoda villagers told us how they had been repeatedly requesting a water project for years from the district council, without success. And then, four years ago, they were told Magoda had been selected as one of ten villages to benefit from a “World Bank” project – it’s actually part of the multi-donor Water Sector Development Programme (WSDP) – and that a piped water scheme would be constructed to serve the village. But that was four years ago. They waited, then waited some more. And then they gave up waiting and decided to do it themselves. D-I-Y (do it yourself) development. Continue reading

What Kwanza Jamii Njombe can learn from Arusha Times

Daraja’s Kwanza Jamii Njombe newspaper is one of very few genuinely local newspapers in Tanzania. The vast majority of papers cover stories from the whole country (though with a big bias for stories from Dar es Salaam and Dodoma), and aim to distribute across the most cities and towns nationwide.

One of the few examples of a well established local paper is the Arusha Times, published weekly in English by F.M Arusha Ltd established by William Lobulu and available online with the most-read newspaper website in Tanzania. I had the opportunity this week to visit Arusha Times’s office, to introduce Kwanza Jamii Njombe and to see what lessons Daraja can learn from Arusha Times’s experience. Continue reading

Monitoring rural water supplies – a job for experts or for citizens?

My attention was drawn yesterday (thanks to Rakesh Rajani of Twaweza) to FLOW, a recently-launched mobile phone app that can be used to monitor the functionality of rural water points. It was reported on recently by CNN. This tool, with the full name Field Level Operations Watch (hence FLOW), is the work of the US-based organisation Water for People. They describe it as

“a dynamic new … baseline and monitoring tool that allows us to get a clear view of what’s working, what’s on the verge of disrepair, and what’s broken. Not only will Water For People use the data to make better programming decisions, but governments, partners, donors and the public can also easily monitor projects and take action when necessary. Plus, the data is easy to gather, share and understand allowing us to build better solutions for a lasting impact.” Continue reading

Media and civil society in #Tanzania – too close for comfort?

A debate has been rumbling recently in the blogosphere about whether the relationship between civil society and the media is becoming closer than should really be the case. As the director of an NGO that could be reasonably accurately described as a media organisation, how could I possibly hold back from engaging in such a debate!

The post that drew this discussion most particularly to my attention was from Pernille Baerentsen’s After Africa blog, asking the question: How much should international NGOs push the media to provide a certain kind of news? (Some other key links are listed below.) Pernille uses Twaweza’s DaladalaTV project as an example, a project that promotes public debate in the back of a commuter bus-turned-TV studio. Though she likes the programme, she complains that HIVOS, the Dutch NGO behind Twaweza, makes unlikely claims about the agenda being set by Tanzanian citizens.It is certainly the case that many NGOs (whether international or national – and most national NGOs are anyway largely dependent on foreign funds) have sometimes found attracting media coverage for their research and advocacy work to be challenging, and have shifted towards engaging the media directly in various kinds of partnerships. Whoever pays the piper picks the tune, as they say, so the content of such programmes is undoubtedly determined by the NGOs. Is that an infringement on the editorial independence of the media? Continue reading

Keeping rural water supplies functioning

There’s some pretty shocking data around on how many (or rather how few) rural waterpoints in Tanzania are working. The best available data, from waterpoint mapping surveys by WaterAid and other NGOs, finds that almost half (46%) of rural waterpoints are not working. Roughly, that means the same number of people that do currently have access to improved water supplies (around 8m) are lacking access because of a broken down waterpoint. Fixing that would more than meet the Millennium Development Target for rural water supply in Tanzania. Continue reading