13 Dec 2010
We provide editorial and design support, but the councils themselves decide what content to produce and share on their page. The only restriction we put is that they should not sell advertising space on their page, but otherwise the choice of content (and the responsibility to prepare that content) is theirs. Each council has appointed an official to be responsible for preparing and submitting content and both councils have taken this opportunity with both hands.
7 Dec 2010
Tulianza kwa kurusha matangazo yetu katika radio tatu ambazo ni Uplands FM iliyopo Njombe, Abood FM iliyopo Mji kasoro bahari (Morogoro) na Mbeya Highlands FM iliyopo mkoani Mbeya.
Pia tulikuwa na warsha ya siku mbili ya kuwapa msasa wanahabari juu ya maradi, sera ya maji ya taifa pamoja na mambo lukuki juu ya uandishi wa habari zinazohusu maji na hali ya upatikanaji Tanzania vijijini.
6 Dec 2010
"bila pentsi maji hupati" - you have to fight for water so unless you're wearing trousers you won't get it
"mwalimu harudi tena" - newly appointed teachers don't stay long when they see how hard it is to get water
"atakavyotaka yeye ndo utakavyomlipa" - girls walking long distances to collect water are vulnerable to men with bad intentions
30 Nov 2010
If you find yourself thinking, "oh no, not another election reflection," rest assured we won't be going over the same ground that has been very ably covered elsewhere (Pambazuka; Vijana FM; The Mikocheni Report - all of which are highly recommended.) Instead we will be looking at the election through a "Daraja window", thinking about how the election affected core Daraja themes of water supply, local government, the media and civil society.
15 Nov 2010
The team were out in Wangama ward last week, up in the mountains and about as remote as Njombe gets. They came back with a great set of stories and pictures. The stories will find their way into the December issue of the paper (and eventually online) but for the moment, here are some photos to take a look at.
1. Nini hasa kilichopelekea mpaka kuamua kujishughulisha na programu ya kuwaleta wananchi na serikali pamoja mkoani Njombe
Ahsante sana ndugu...... Kwanza kabisa naomba nitoe utangulizi wa shirika la Daraja. Daraja ni shirika la kiraia ambalo linashughulika na utawala bora hasa katika kuleta wananchi na serikali pamoja. Dira ya Daraja ni kuona serikali za mitaa zinafanya kazi kikamilifu kwa kuzingatia matakwa na mahitaji ya wananchi na kutimiza wajibu wao wa kupunguza umaskini vijijini. Shirika la Daraja lina makao makuu mjini Njombe. Pia ni vizuri kufahamu kua shirika la Daraja limeanza kazi mwaka 2009, hata hivyo ofisi ya kudumu ilifunguliwa mwanzoni mwezi Januari mwaka huu.
12 Nov 2010
Day 1 was essentially training on water sector issues and on Daraja. Day 2 was more practical, developing programme outlines and recording and editing content. We'll have some audio content online very soon, but for the moment the main presentations from the fist day are below. They're presented in Daraja's working language of Kiswanglish.
5 Nov 2010
And we hope it's proved as interesting to you as it has to us. Our ideas on what social media can offer Daraja have developed somewhat, as a number of posts over the past year have documented. (See some highlights here.)
One year in, it's now time to take stock of where we are. What have we learned, what's working, what's not, where's the real potential, and how can we capitalise on it?
2 Nov 2010
First up, we have some more flags. This time they are in Makambako town centre, having to compete with a Jacaranda tree in full flower that was bare when the flags were put up.
1 Nov 2010
First, if flags could vote ... . There were over 30 CCM and CHADEMA flags on display in Njombe bus stand this week, with a clear majority in favour of Chadema. Some brave and/or stupid CCM supporter tried to remove some of the CHADEMA flags, but as there's little doubt who the majority of piga-debes at the stand were supporting they got chased off pretty quick.
28 Oct 2010
"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."
26 Oct 2010
|(Click on the image to see a larger version)|
24 Oct 2010
Part of the reason for Daraja being active on twitter, facebook and with this blog is to explore the potential of social media as a way of promoting good governance in Tanzania. So in this spirit of exploration, we've made this blog mobile-friendly.
21 Oct 2010
Uchaguzi.or.tz allows anyone with a mobile phone to report on the election as it happens, wherever they are. This means that candidates and polling stations can no longer breaks the rules knowing that they are out of the view of formal election observers and the traditional media. Any citizen who sees something happening that shouldn't be happening can send an anonymous report that will be posted as text and highlighted on a map on the uchaguzi.or.tz site.
So what can you do as a citizen? How can you become part of a national election monitoring exercise?
19 Oct 2010
Just a little more evidence in support of the case made previously that water supply is largely absent at national level from the general election campaign. In this case, the chart shows the breakdown of issues focussed on in media election reporting during September, as monitored by Synovate's Tanzania 2010 Election Monitoring Project. Water supply doesn't even get a mention.
15 Oct 2010
5 Oct 2010
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?
2 Oct 2010
In Tanzania the paper with the largest circulation is said to sell around 40,000 copies a day. Most of the papers are highly dependent on advertising, with the only possible exceptions being those who put political interests before commercial profitability. Meanwhile internet access continues to grow rapidly, driven by mobile phones. With mobile phones, developing countries have already leapfrogged fixed line networks, but they are now also leapfrogging laptops.
1 Oct 2010
But this year has been disappointingly different.
29 Sep 2010
Siwema faces a daily challenge to access clean and safe water. She lives in the village of Godegode in Mpwapwa district, but the nearest clean source of water is over 5km away in the neighbouring village. Each day she has a choice. She can either walk all that way, spending over two hours on the simple task of collecting water. Or she can collect water from a hole dug by hand in the dry riverbed, which is horribly dirty. There is a borehole in the village, but it broke down a few years ago and was never fixed.
28 Sep 2010
Maji na vita ya kupigania maisha
Siwema anakabiliwa na changamoto ya upatikanaji wa maji kila siku. Anaishi kijiji cha Godegode wilayani Mpwapwa ambapo sehemu ya karibu anayoweza kupata maji safi na salama ni kijiji cha jirani kilichopo umbali wa zaidi ya kilometa tano. Kila siku Siwema ana chaguo, aidha atembee umbali mrefu kwa zaidi ya masaa mawili kwa ajili ya kupata maji safi na salama au akachote maji kwenye dimbwi lililopo kwenye mto uliokauka ambapo maji ni machafu na tayari yananuka. Kijiji cha Godegode kiliwahi kuwa na kisima kirefu cha maji lakini kiliharibika miaka michache iliyopita na hakijafanyiwa matengenezo.
23 Sep 2010
Of course there is no real contradiction. Tanzania has put huge efforts and resources into expanding access to both primary and secondary education, with some pretty impressive results (as Uwezo acknowledges), as long as the results you are talking about are increases in enrolment rates. If you’re talking about exam results, or the even just the ability to read, write and add up, then the results are much less impressive, which is what the Uwezo report highlights. In other words, Tanzania has done very well in terms of increasing the quantity of education, but not very well at improving the quality. The MDGs focus only on quantity.
Quantity versus quality is not a new debate in the education sector, but rather an old one. Go back 40-50 years and you’ll find that Tanzania prioritised expanding access to the education sector under Nyerere, who put a lot of effort into Universal Primary Education (UPE) while Kenya focussed more efforts on increasing the quality of education. The downside of Tanzania’s approach is reflected in the unofficial rechristening of UPE as Ualimu Pasipo na Elimu (teaching without education). On the other hand, ensuring that every child has at least a basic level of education is a noble aim.
But the real question the Uwezo report raises is not whether it is better to aim for quantity or quality, but whether Tanzanian school children are receiving even a basic level of education. For too many children this appears not to be the case.
- - - - -
Disclaimer: One of Uwezo's main partners is Twaweza, Daraja's biggest donor.
1 Sep 2010
(Apologies to readers who prefer things in English, but we also have many readers who are more comfortable in Swahili. And we will continue to post here in English as well.)
Kuweka jamii kwanza hapa Njombe
Mwitikio wa watu umekuwa mkubwa tangu pale tulipowapa wazo letu la kuanzisha gazeti la kijamii hapa Njombe. Asilimia kubwa wamefurahishwa na wazo letu, huku wakitarajia kuliona lina nini ndani yake.
18 Aug 2010
So if anyone's looking for training on Adobe Creative Suite software in Tanzania, these guys are highly recommended. And they do a whole lot more besides.
13 Aug 2010
11 Aug 2010
While preparing our annual report last week (will be available online soon), we came across an analysis written by us a few months back of the initial responses of district water departments to this apprach. It provides an interesting window on the attitudes of local government, so we decided to include it in our annual report, and also to share it here. In order to protect our working relations with the officials in question, their names and the names of the districts have not been included here.
2 Aug 2010
This isn't an unexpected challenge, and we would not have decided on using print media if we didn't feel a solution could be found. But with the first issue of the paper due to be published later this month, working out that solution has recently been a priority.
28 Jul 2010
Last week the Kenyan chapter of Transparency International published the East African Bribery Index, to provide answers to these questions and promote debate on corruption within the region. They've certainly succeeded in the second part of this, getting a fair bit of coverage in the press and drawing responses from the heads of several of the institutions found to be most corrupt, including the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Blandina Nyoni.
30 Jun 2010
Along with 94 other Twitter users, almost all Tanzanian, Daraja received an email earlier this week saying "Pres Jakaya Kikwete (Kikwete2010) is now following your tweets on Twitter. His campaign team have also started a blog.
It's created several reactions in Tanzania's growing blogosphere, including The Mikocheni Report, Faustine's Baraza and Subi Nukta on Wavuti.com. Mostly this is people simply noting the change rather than commenting on it, but there has been some more interesting reaction on Twitter and in the comments on the posts linked above. Search for @kikwete2010 on twitter.com for the latest thoughts, but here's a sample as well:
- From @Sajjo: @kikwete2010 swahiba karibu, natumaini una lolote la kuleta jamvini // Asante, tutahabarishana!
- From @robertalai: @Kikwete2010 great you have realised the power of social media. website not well socialised. Newsletter wapi?
- From @DruYork: Now that @Kikwete2010 is following me, I feel like I should be making more politically correct tweets. Not that I don't already
- From @AkbarTM183 I dont think @Kikwete2010 Twitter page is really by the president!! // its by campaign communication team
"we are a social media comm team reporting to the CCM campaign leadership, not Ikulu"
"Slowly making a presence here. Lots to learn but we are determined to engage and inform!"
"There is a growing realization of the power of social media, so hopefully we will see deeper engagement from Ikulu as well."The signs are that this will make use of the interactive nature of twitter as well as creating a new channel for the campaign team to get its message out - several tweets have replied to questions or suggestions from other twitterers. It's hard to keep that up, but maybe that's the intention.
But why this new approach? The Mikocheni Report suggests this is a way of reaching the middle classes with their blackberries, and another commenter suggested it was simply keeping up with Obama's fashions. But given how the Tanzanian media is rapidly becoming established on twitter, facebook, etc., perhaps its intended as a way of reaching that influential group of opinion formers? And CHADEMA has long had a large presence in social media, most particularly through Zitto Kabwe on facebook, but also @chadematz on twitter.
21 Jun 2010
Since the change became public last week (it was already known about locally), I've been asking lots of people what changes they think will come about as a result. Is it, overall, a positive or negative move?
8 Jun 2010
He told a story to demonstrate his point, which I will paraphrase here:
An informal group of people with a shared interest forms to address a particular problem they face, a positive example of citizens taking action. But then someone in the group raises the point that there are donors that might be willing to give some money to a group like theirs, and the whole focus of their group shifts away from the original issue and towards chasing money. Gradually the group starts employing professional people who can write good proposals and account for any funds the group receives, and the activities the group engages in shift from informal and dynamic community mobilisation and lobbying to rigid and structured projects that suits donors but doesn't work so well in practice.I can't argue with the suggestion that civil society in Tanzania is indeed too bureaucratised, too projectised, and perhaps even too civil (though I would prefer not to go that far). Nor do I dispute the related points that accountability is political not technical - I have previously argued that even service delivery work is more political than is usually acknowledged. And I would agree that working with the formal side of the policy-making process has rarely been effective for civil society in Tanzania - NGOs' engagement effectively becomes much like donor agencies, with marginally more legitimacy but without the technical capacity and without the influence gained by holding the purse strings. My experience with that kind of work is that most of what you do achieve (not much) is brought about by convincing a donor representative to make your argument for you, which is hardly the kind of accountability we're looking for.
But the point I dispute here is the idea that somehow civil society has shifted away from more activist methods - from "placards to powerpoint" - initially for the simple reason that I have seen very little evidence of the placards existing in the first place. When Dar es Salaam's water supply utility was privatised, the only placards to be seen were at a demonstration that took place within an NGO's office compound. Similar privatisations in other countries that attracted huge protests. The recent World Economic Forum event in Dar es Salaam saw protests, but these were led by South African activists and pretty much ignored by Tanzanians. And here at Daraja we recently conducted a survey of attitudes towards local governance (report expected shortly) in which 80% of respondents said that they would never attend a demonstration or protest march. In short, Tanzania doesn't have a culture of public protest, and I think this needs a little more analysis.
Geir did make the point that bureaucratised civil society organisations close down space that more demand-focussed citizens' groups cannot then fill. And perhaps this is the more accurate analysis - that civil society has become co-opted into the formal policy-making arena, therefore effectively preventing more genuine citizens groups from emerging. I'm just not sure that local groups would fill this space even if was available to them.
Let's not forget that the incentives for individual citizens taking action against, for example, local petty corruption, are pretty strongly against such action. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone," but where is that person? Anyone who profits in any way from bending the rules (whose brother used a faked form four leaving certificate to gain entry to teacher training, or who bribed a public official to speed up the process of getting a business license or birth certificate, for example) is likely to be unwilling to publicly criticise powerful others. And even if a "clean" person stands up and makes their voice heard they are taking a risk, since the perpetrators of petty corruption are usually also those with the power to make that citizen's life difficult.
Of course, this challenge does not undermine the bigger point, that civil society would have more impact if it moved away from trying to influence change through formal consultational channels and focussed more on finding safe and effective ways for citizens to make their voice heard through the political process.
But it does mean that trying to promote citizens' agency is a bigger challenge than reorganising donor funding to change civil society's incentives. If donor funding for NGOs working on accountability was taken away, for example, this wouldn't necessarily encourage more local groups to take more local actions. It might lead to very little. Instead, it requires finding new ways of creating channels for citizens to make their voice heard without putting themselves and their livelihoods at risk.
What are the incentives for and against citizens' agency? And what can we do to change them?
2 Jun 2010
"Does Mourinho plan out 90 minutes of tackles, passes and shots in a logframe? Of course not, so why do NGOs?"Rakesh Rajani of Twaweza posed this question last week, making a case for more flexibility and responsiveness in NGO strategy, particularly where NGOs are working in the ever-changing world of public accountability.
Duncan Green used his From Poverty to Power blog to highlight a similar point from a recent academic paper by Rosalind Eyben:
"At their best, aid workers surf the unpredictable realities of national politics, spotting opportunities, supporting interesting new initiatives, acting like entrepreneurs or searchers, rather than planners. But when they report back to their bosses, out come the logframes and strategic plans".Duncan and Rosalind go on to suggest that this contrast between messy realities and tidy presentation is maintained by a fear that a more honest picture given to donors and donor country taxpayers would result in reduced willingness to hand over the money.
The key point for both is that the environment is so dynamic that only a flexible and responsive approach - "entrepreneurial" in Duncan's case and perhaps Ronaldinho-like in Rakesh's - can succeed.
Both make a powerful case, but it is Rakesh's footballing metaphor that I want to focus on here, to see how far it can be taken. Rakesh himself went one small step further, noting that what was important in a football match was the very clear goal - literally goals - and arguing that NGOs should also raise their eyes to a higher level, focussing on goals rather than getting bogged down in the detail of activities. But I think the metaphor can be taken even further. I hope it's clear enough without me joining up all the dots, and please forgive me if some of this becomes rather stretched!
Let's start with human resources. A football team is made up of 11 players, each bringing a different set of skills. Some have more fixed, disciplined roles - the defenders and most particularly the goalkeeper - while others are expected to be more flexible and creative. Isn't that much the same in an NGO team? Some staff - such as accountants and M+E staff - have more disciplined roles. Perhaps the goalkeeper would be the head of finance? Others are expected to be more creative - the frontline programme staff - who in my experience are the staff that complain most about rigid planning formats.
Players know their position, but this makes up a loose form rather than a rigid structure.
If you have too many creative players, you end up with a team that may be exciting to watch but is likely to give away a lot of goals. Balance is important.
There's a captain on the field, whose role is more about motivation and leadership than creating a decision making hierarchy.
And take strategy. Rakesh is right that football teams focus on the goal, but I think this can be taken further too. Teams rarely go into a match without some kind of plan - to defend deep, to go all-out on the attack, to play with patience and wait for opportunities to arise, etc. They would also usually have back-up plans already in mind - what happens if they concede a goal, or if the opposition is marking their best player very closely? And they would probably also have some set-piece plans, specific corner and free-kick routines, ready for when the opportunity arises.
Preparation is not about detailed planning but about making sure that the team has a wide range of options - skills, tactics, specific routines - at their disposal, ready to use when needed.
A few years ago I made myself unpopular in a team planning meeting when I argued against a colleague that planning was more an art than a science. But perhaps we were both wrong: it's really a sport?
31 May 2010
29 May 2010
So having spent most of the last week in Dar es Salaam, a week packed with meetings, presentations and a "learning cafe" (not entirely sure that this was anything other than a workshop for people who officially disapprove of workshops), what's been learned from the opportunity?
22 May 2010
16 May 2010
I can't say anything about particular applicants, since we haven't yet made our final decisions about job offers, but I can make a few general comments that might well be useful to young job seekers in Tanzania. Some of it may seem obvious, but apparently not to everyone!
11 May 2010
The results are interesting. For example, 90% of times a truck is stopped by the police, a bribe is paid. And the average bribe is 1,272 shillings, resulting in a total "bribe-price" of 6,000-8,000 shillings per trip.
But my point is more about the research methods than about their findings.
3 May 2010
And while employers everywhere complain about staff "wasting time" on facebook and other social networking sites, it has a potentially very positive side as well. Just as Daraja is exploring how social networks can be used as a tool for increasing public accountability, so facebook was today suggested as a platform for citizen monitoring of Tanzania's controversial and recently established Constituency Development Catalyst Fund (CDCF). Where was this suggestion made? On facebook, of course. It was made in response to a post by Zitto Kabwe, who must surely be the Tanzanian with the most "friends" on facebook - almost 5,000.
- wake him up and ask him why he's forgotten about water services.
- even you have a mouth, you ask him.
- if you're also scared, let's leave him to sleep.
27 Apr 2010
22 Apr 2010
“It has come to our attention that many councils are preparing project implementation reports which are not based on the actual status of the concerned projects"According to the article, Dr Slaa of CHADEMA, in his role as Local Authorities Accounts Committee (LAAC) chair, reported to parliament that in certain cases projects were not implemented at all. In other words, prejects are being reported and funds reported as spent, when nothing has actually happened on the ground. Where has the money gone?
20 Apr 2010
23 Mar 2010
Starting a new organisation is a challenging process involving long hours of work and pressured decision making. So why have we chosen to add to our workload and pressure by setting up a blog and a presence on facebook and twitter? And is it worth the effort involved?
There are several reasons for doing this. First, as an organisation based in Njombe, a full day's travel from Dar es Salaam, we're a little disconnected from the rest of the civil society and related community that is concentrated in Dar. That's a good thing in many ways - bringing us closer to the community and local government, less unnecessary meetings, much lower costs, less time stuck in traffic - but it can also mean that we're out of the loop, not able to network with other organisations and individuals.
18 Mar 2010
16 Mar 2010
The purpose of Budget Guidelines is to help ministries prepare their budgets by telling them how much money they have available. So of the guidelines don't include this information, the ministries must have been told in some other way. Last year they got a letter, which the donors had no problem getting a copy of while the media and civil society struggled.
Transparency matters, but it's about more than making some documents and numbers public. The format also matters a lot.
Is there any good reason not to put the ministries' ceilings in the published guidelines? It looks like they're being hidden, but why? Maybe there is a better explanation. Any ideas?
12 Mar 2010
I was asked yesterday, as I have been many times, why Daraja is trying to develop a local newspaper rather than a radio station. The idea of supporting local media in order to make local government more responsive is easy to grasp, but people are often surprised that we're talking print rather than radio.
It's easy to understand their surprise, since radio would be the more obvious answer. You don't have the same problem reaching more remote areas, you don't have to worry about literacy and radio is a more immediately interactive platform. So why did we decide otherwise and aim to establish a newspaper?
9 Mar 2010
I recently came across a very interesting project in the UK - the Democracy Club - a country that, like Tanzania, has an election coming up this year. The aim is to make the election "the most accountable and informed election ever," by mobilising a movement of volunteers in every constituency to take very simple steps to report on local campaigns and local issues. This got me thinking about whether something similar could be done in Tanzania - call it "Wanademokrasia."
7 Mar 2010
A recent book, SMS Uprising, (published by Fahamu Books and Pambazuka Press with support from Hivos), documents several such programmes from different parts of Africa. The book describes itself as taking a "try this in your campaign" approach, encouraging others to adopt the same tools. So they must be confident in what they're promoting.
26 Feb 2010
Of 1000 randomly selected citizens in Njombe Town, Njombe District, Ludewa and Makete:
- 39% felt that the main role of a councillor was to bring development to their ward, compared to only 3% who felt their main role was to scrutinise the plans and performance of the district government.
- 25% felt that their MP does not consider their interests at all, compared to only 12% who felt the same about their councillor.
17 Feb 2010
A question often asked in Tanzania is whether multi-party democratic government can be effective while opposition parties remain weak. There's no doubt that opposition parties are stronger now than a few years previously, but will this lead to improvements in government performance? And if so, where does this leave local councils, many of which don't have even one elected councillor representing opposition parties and where many seats are not even contested by more than one party?