All over the world, the media plays a big role in holding government to account. In the UK the current panic at the decline of local newspapers is precisely because people recognise the importance of independent local media to local democracy. But in most of rural Tanzania, there’s no meaningful media scrutiny of local government at all. As a result, local government mismanagement and poor performance are the norm.
In the village of Magoda, 15 miles outside the town of Njombe in southern Tanzania, local residents were frustrated. Four years had passed since local government promised them “World Bank” money for a project bringing clean and safe water to the village. So they gave up waiting and decided to take action for themselves. A small dam was constructed in a stream about a mile from the village and distribution pipes were laid, all designed, built and paid for by the villagers themselves, with no government involvement. Continue reading