21 Dec 2011

Lala salama Mzee Njoo Uone

    Below is an obituary of Mzee Augustine "Njoo Uone" Hongole, inspirational journalist and activist, and Chair of Kwanza Jamii Njombe's Editorial Board. He will be much missed. This obituary, by our Managing Editor, Simon Mkina, will be published in Kwanza Jamii newspapers next week.

    Lala salama Mzee Njoo Uone
    • Nyota yake imezima ghafla, akiwa anahitajika kujenga maadili, kutetea chai
    Na Simon Mkina

    Mzee Augustino "Njoo Uone" Hongole
    DESEMBA 13, mwaka huu wa 2011 ilikuwa siku ya mwisho kabisa kuuona mwili wa Mzee Augustino Hongole maarufu kama Mzee ‘Njoo Uone’. Ni siku ambayo mwili wake ulibeba zaidi ya tani moja ya mchanga kuutenganisha na uso wa dunia hii.

    19 Dec 2011

    So what's in Tanzania's Draft Open Government Action Plan?

    Tanzania's draft action plan for the Open Government Partnership has evolved and grown significantly since we last posted a draft on this blog. I've posted the full "commitments" section of the latest draft below, with the less interesting preamble, etc, removed - though the full text is also available online. This is the draft that came back from the recent OGP meeting in Brazil, and will be finalised for formal submission to the OGP in April 2012. 

    14 Dec 2011

    Maji Matone hasn't delivered. Time to embrace failure, learn, and move on

    It is no secret that Daraja's Maji Matone programme has not lived up to expectations. In particular, despite considerable resources spent on promotional work - printing and distributing posters and leaflets, as well as extensive broadcasts on local radio - we haven't had the response from the community that we had hoped for.  A six month pilot in three districts resulted in only 53 SMS messages received and forwarded to district water departments (compared to an initial target of 3,000). So we've made a decision - to embrace failure, learn and share lessons from the experience, and to fundamentally redesign the programme.

    Admitting failure in this way is easy to support in theory, but much harder to do in practice. It may be accepted practice in the for-profit world, but it's uncomfortable for a donor-dependent NGO. Would it be easier to continue half-heartedly with a programme that isn't working or close it down quietly and hope that nobody notices? Of course it would. But those approaches would not benefit anyone, wasting money and missing out on valuable opportunities to learn. So we're taking a different tack, embracing and publicising our failures, and trying to make sure we (and others) learn as much as possible from the experience.

    6 Dec 2011

    Rural water supply in Tanzania since independence, and for the next 50 years

    Photo from www.juliusnyerere.info
    It is, quite rightly, the season for raising our eyes and looking up at the horizon. December 9th, 2011 will mark 50 years since the British flag came down on Tanganyika and the country's life as an independent nation began. So what better time to think a little further than the hot political issue of the day (which is usually forgotten within a week or two) or even most NGOs' furthest horizon - the 5 year strategic plan?

    There are plenty of others who are better placed to assess Tanzania's past achievements and future prospects in political or economic terms, so I won't trespass on their terrain. But I can say something about rural water supply. In particular, I have identified two themes of change in the sector - covering the past 50 years and the next - that I think may be of interest.

    29 Nov 2011

    If NGOs were a Newspaper, by Rakesh Rajani

    Rakesh Rajani founded HakiElimu in 2001 and is now the Head of Twaweza (a key partner of Daraja). This column was published in HakiElimu's regular "Hard Questions" slot in The Citizen newspaper on August 27, 2007, Rakesh's final column as HakiElimu's Executive Director.

    Unlike his similar and more well-known column, If Government was a Restaurant, this column is not currently available online, which is why I am posting it here. And I do so also with the idea in mind of commenting in future on how Daraja's experience of operating an NGO-run newspaper compares to Rakesh's critique of NGO culture and practices.

    If NGOs were a Newspaper
    by Rakesh Rajani

    Once upon a time world leaders at the UN declared a year of the press. In response, the NGOs resolved to all turn themselves into newspapers. This is what happened.

    23 Nov 2011

    Guest Post - How Do We Make Dar Es Salaam More Open?

    Daraja was asked last week if we would be willing to host a guest post on this blog, from Jeff Jesse, a Tanzanian student leader who is also consulting with the World Bank, on the subject of the Mapping Tandale project. And since we've found ourselves in the middle of a series of posts on Open Government, it seems a very appropriate time to share this experience. 

    But let me get out of the way and hand over to Jeff.

    How Do We Make Dar Es Salaam More Open? 

    Tandale, mapped. Via markiliffe.wordpress.com
    In August, I helped out with a very cool process.  Using GPS devices and some free software, in just two weeks a group of about 25 Ardhi University urban planning students, community members and trainers from Nairobi managed to create and publish a map online of Tandale Ward, an unplanned area here in Dar Es Salaam which did not have any existing map.

    21 Nov 2011

    Naunga Mkono Uwazi Serikalini Tanzania - I Support Open Government in Tanzania

    Daraja supports open government in Tanzania.

    And for that reason, Daraja has led the creation of a facebook page (together with Twaweza and the Centre for Economic Prosperity) where others can show their support for open government in Tanzania. Or they can post their ideas for what particular aspects of Tanzanian governance should be opened up.

    The page is now online at www.facebook.com/NaungaMkonoUwaziSerikalini and I encourage anyone who thinks the Tanzanian government should be more open to visit the page, click on the "Like" button at the top of the page, and  ideas.

    17 Nov 2011

    Consulting on open government - time to send your ideas

    Submit your ideas on open government at wananchi.go.tz
    As those of you who follow Daraja closely will know, I spent Tuesday this week at a meeting convened by the Tanzania Open Government Partnership (OGP) Task Force - see here and here for some background on the OGP from this blog, or here (pdf) for a presentation to the Cabinet on the subject. The meeting was to consult civil society and other stakeholders on the Action Plan that Tanzania will take next month to the OGP secretariat at a meeting in Brazil.

    The political leadership behind this initiative is impressive, both within and beyond Tanzania. Presidents Obama and Roussef (of Brazil) are driving things internationally, with support from Tanzania's own Rakesh Rajani of Twaweza, representing civil society, and several countries are really pushing ambitious plans - the UK government, for example, says it wants to be "the most open and transparent government in the world".

    15 Nov 2011

    Proposed contents of Tanzania's Open Government Action Plan

    As presented as a first draft to stakeholders consultation meeting by the Tanzania OGP Task Force, Nov 15, 2011. I will post a translation here later.


    • Kuweka utaratibu wa kufanya madawti ya malalamiko yaliyoanzishwa ktk Wizara na Mamlaka za Serikali za Mitaa yafanye kazi
    • Kubaini na kuimarisha matumizi ya masanduku ya maoni yaliyopo ktk vituo vya kutolea huduma na kuweka utaratibu madhubuti wa kutambua yanavyofanya kazi
    • Kupitia upya majukumu ya Bodi na Kamati za Vituo vya utoaji wa huduma ktk sekta za afya, elimu na maji ili kuzifanya zitekeleze majukumu yake ipasavyo
    • Kuweka utaratibu ili kuhakikisha kuwa taarifa za mapato na matumizi zinabandikwa ktk mbao za matangazo ngazi za Halmashauri, kata, vijiji, mitaa na vituo vya kutolea huduma ktk sekta za elimu, afya, maji

    14 Nov 2011

    The politics of water supply are coming to the boil

    Mohammed Dewji helps out. Photo from wavuti.com
    This blog has long argued that the major challenges in the water sector are more political than technical. We have also highlighted the fact that the political nature of the challenges has not been matched by political attention. Water supply was largely ignored in the 2010 election campaigns, for example, not featuring in the major campaign promises of any of the big three parties' presidential candidates nor gaining much attention in election media coverage (here and here).

    Now, four separate developments in the past few weeks point to a change in the politics of water supply in Tanzania. So what are the new developments, and what is the change that they point to?

    11 Nov 2011

    Violence in Ludewa caused by dissatisfaction with the Water Sector Development Programme

    The following email was distributed last week to the Wanabidii email group, with a very interesting perspective on some of the challenges facing the Water Sector Development Programme. I can't guarantee all the precise details of the story told, though I do have independent confirmation of the basic facts.

    I felt that the email deserves to be seen by a wider audience, particularly those with an interest in Tanzania's water sector, as it sheds some additional urgency on the challenges highlighted on this blog recently.

    3 Nov 2011

    A new paper hits the streets - the launch of Kwanza Jamii Iringa, in pictures

    Kwanza Jamii Iringa is out, available across Iringa region. The launch event took place on Tuesday in Iringa town, with the Regional Commissioner, Dr Christine Ishengoma, cutting the ribbon, and with Mrisho "Mjomba" Mpoto keeping the crowd entertained.

    25 Oct 2011

    "Undertaking" Tanzania's Water Sector Development Programme?

    Screenshot from WaterAid video
    I spent two days last week at the annual Joint Water Sector Review meeting - the so-called "highlight" of the annual calendar of "dialogue". This was the sixth such meeting to be held - and I have the "distinction" of having attended all of them. But as you can probably guess from the profusion of "inverted commas" in this paragraph, I'm having serious doubts about the whole exercise. Before I come to that, though, let me give you some background.

    Around 250 people from the Ministry of Water, other related government ministries and agencies, the "development partners" and civil society all attended, in the workshop factory that is Ubungo Plaza. All the main stakeholders were there. Apart from water consumers that is, who are only represented in the sense that everyone consumes water. And those consumers (or perhaps I should call them citizens) weren't represented by their official representatives either - no MPs or local councillors attend, with the exception of the Ministers officiating at the formal opening and closing sessions. We civil society folks had to take on that role.

    20 Oct 2011

    Two great videos on rural water supply

    I have two videos to share with you, since I've been in Dar and have therefore had access to a quick enough internet connection to deal with such things.

    First up, an excellent short documentary (just over 15 minutes) from my former colleagues at WaterAid Tanzania on the state of the Water Sector Development Programme - on which I will also be writing shortly. Some of this is pretty hard hitting, particularly with many of the most critical comments coming from District Water Engineers and MPs.

    13 Oct 2011

    Tawasanet's growing pains

    The Tanzania Water and Sanitation Network (Tawasanet) has had a pretty challenging year. Their founding chairperson left the network, their replacement passed away a few months later, not long after which the network parted company with its only two employees in an uncomfortable breakup. Relations between the board and member organisations suffered as a result, there is an ongoing court-case, and preparing an annual report and audited financial statements was by all accounts a very challenging process.

    It's a shame to see these troubles, as there is still a clear need for a strong national civil society voice in the Tanzanian water and sanitation sector, which is dominated by government, development partners and a few international NGOs. And as we all know, the sector has a lot of problems, many of which are in areas where civil society has a valuable perspective and experience to contribute - reorienting the sector to be more pro-poor and prioritising sustainability, to name just two.

    6 Oct 2011

    Open government in Tanzania - what are the priorities?

    Tz govt commitment to the
    OGP (click to enlarge)
    The recent news that the Tanzanian government has committed to joining the Open Government Partnership is a positive move by the government. It deserves civil society and media support. The specific commitment - to prepare an Action Plan on open government by March 2012 - is challenging, but achievable if work starts now. 

    This has got me thinking. What actions could the government take that would have a positive impact on open government immediately? I've come up with some options, and would love to know what you think.

    27 Sep 2011

    Tanzania and the Open Government Partnership: What does it all mean?

    Photo from the US State Department
    Over in the US last week, Rakesh Rajani, the Head of one of Daraja's main partner organisations, Twaweza, shared a platform with someone who you might possibly have heard of, a certain Barack Obama. The Brazillian president, Dilma Rousseff, was also there, as were the Presidents of Mexico and South Africa, Felipe Calderon and Jacob Zuma. The Tanzanian government was also represented, though not in this picture. In case you don't know him, Rakesh is on the far right.

    23 Sep 2011

    Mchuchuma-Liganga: huge Chinese investment in Ludewa on the horizon

    Parliamentarians at the Liganga site. Picture from Zitto Kabwe
    Wednesday this week saw the signing of a major agreement for Tanzania between the National Development Corporation (NDC) and the Chinese company Sichuan Hongda. The agreement sets up a new company, Tanzania China International Mineral Resources Limited (TCIMR), to build a coal mine, iron ore mine, coal-fired power plant and steel works at the Liganga (iron ore) and nearby Mchuhuma (coal) in Ludewa district, just to the south of Njombe. The MPs Zitto Kabwe (the Parastatal Organisation Accounts Committee chair) and Deo Filikunjombe (the PAOC vice-chair and Ludewa MP) were present at the signing.

    The CitizenThe GuardianDaily News and Mwananchi, all made this their front page lead on Thursday. Twitter also had some information, (mostly from @ZittoKabwe), though not all of it matches the newspaper articles, and Jamii Forums predictably also injected a note of scepticism.

    21 Sep 2011

    Corruption in literature - some great reads

    The great MG Vassanji, author of many of the best East African novels, was in Tanzania recently, and has shared his thoughts on Tanzania in a fascinating piece published in the Canadian magazine Macleans - "Tanzania: land of constant complaints."

    I'm not sure he has it quite right with the headline, since apathy, low expectations and just getting on with things are more my experience. An SNV study, for example, elicited a very different thought from a respondent: "What do we expect from our government? It is like the rain: if it does not rain we try to survive, when it rains we are grateful."

    Otherwise, as Pernille argues, Vassanji has captured a changing Tanzania very well. And I can't argue with his litany of challenges facing Tanzania or his simply stated analysis "the problem is governance and corruption."

    But this post is not supposed to be about Vassanji's article. It's supposed to be about great fiction on the theme of corruption, inspired in part by Transparency International's recent blogpost on the best movies featuring corruption.

    19 Sep 2011

    The Tanzanian media has had a bad crisis

    It seems I wasn't entirely fair when I recently complained about the inaccuracy of a couple of photos circulating around Tanzania's social media scene following the tragic MV Spice Islander disaster. The mainstream media has done no better.

    15 Sep 2011

    Are our children learning?

    Let's start with the good news. If you are a final year (St 7) Primary School student in Bukoba Urban, with parents who completed secondary education and who are not very poor, you went to pre-school and your family speaks Swahili at home, then you have a 95% chance of being able to completed Standard 2 level tests in Numeracy, Swahili and English.

    And the bad news: If you are a St 7 student in Kibondo District, with parents who didn't themselves attend school and are poor, the chance of you being able to complete the same tests is only 9%.

    11 Sep 2011

    #ZanzibarBoatAccident and the Tanzanian media - failure all round?

    The tragic events taking place in Zanzibar in the early hours of Saturday morning are a national disaster, and three days of mourning have rightly been declared. Our thoughts are with those who lost lives or lost loved ones. May their souls rest in peace.

    The disaster raises questions about regulation of maritime transport and accountability, though it is too soon to reach firm conclusions on what went wrong and too soon to see whether people will be held to account.

    But we can begin assessing how the media handled the 24 hours after the crisis broke.

    6 Sep 2011

    Suits, diplomatic ignorance and HakiElimu: More US cables on Tanzania released by Wikileaks

    After my post last week on Wikileaks release of US Embassy Cables, it seems that the rather chaotic internal politics of Wikileaks led to a release of the final batch of cables over the weekend. So a brief update is in order.

    Around 230 more cables relating to Tanzania were released over the weekend, bringing the total to over 700. And just to make things complicated, the most recent batch are not separated from the previously released cables, so looking through the new ones requires that you also look through all the old ones.

    But let's get to the point. And there are three more points of particular interest that I have found in the new releases, as follows.

    29 Aug 2011

    The Joy of Six: Highlights from Wikileaks' release of Tz cables

    Last week's release by Wikileaks of the US Diplomatic Cables on Tanzania was not the "smoking gun" on the corruption scandals to have struck Tanzania in the last 5 years that some people were hoping for. But nor does it make for entirely comfortable reading for those in government who are subject to some unusually undiplomatic criticisms from the US diplomats.

    There are around 500 cables with the tag "Tz" now publicly available, a number that means a review can either be quick or thorough, but not both. Quick is all I have time for, I'm afraid, aided by various Twitterers and Jamii Forums in the process. So if you want to dig deeper, you'll have to do it yourself.

    22 Aug 2011

    It's time to take sexual abuse of children in Tanzania seriously

    UNICEF's report into violence against children in Tanzania, published earlier this month, should be a wake up call for Tanzania. Based on an extensive survey in 2009, it finds that almost three in ten girls in Tanzania are sexually abused by the time they reach 18 years of age. The same is true for one in seven boys. These are pretty shocking findings. But perhaps not very surprising to anyone familiar with the Tanzanian education system.

    In Daraja's Kwanza Jamii Njombe local newspaper, we have had several stories relating to the sexual abuse of children, particularly by their teachers. I can't say whether this is a growing problem, but it's certainly a hot issue in the minds of students and parents in Njombe. Many, many cases have come to our attention since we started our paper, on top of those (also numerous) we had come across previously.

    8 Aug 2011

    So how did they do? The #DarHackathon results show

    The judging panel waits while participants
    prepare to present. Photo from @simplyluca
    Two days ago, an enthusiastic bunch of young Tanzanians set off in teams on a 48-hour software development marathon. Or rather a sprint, since it would usually takes weeks or months to develop the kind of applications they were putting together. After a couple of largely sleepless nights (judging by the kind of chatter on twitter overnight and the conversations going on at COSTECH this morning), the 48 hours were up, and it was time for the teams to show us what they had managed to do.

    So how did they do?

    7 Aug 2011

    Day 1 at the #DarHackathon

    Innocent at work, photo by @tahajiwaji
    I turned up a little early, finding the large room only sparsely filled, mostly with the organisers wondering whether the turnout would meet their expectations. They needn't have worried as within half an hour the room was nearly full of sharply dressed young Tanzanian software developers itching to get started. Laptops covered every table and a spaghetti network of adaptors and extension cables spread out over the floor.

    Thus began the Dar Developers' Dash, also known as the Dar Hackathon (or #DarHackathon on twitter), which kicked off this morning at COSTECH. It follows up on last month's popular BarCampDar event, but with a more particular focus on software developers.

    29 Jul 2011

    Who guards the guards? Scandal and corruption in the UK

    The News of the World's last issue, photo from guardian.co.uk
    For a keen follower of media issues, the past month was a great time to be visiting the UK. In case you missed it, a huge scandal blew up over illegal practices at the News of the World newspaper, which itself turned into a scandal about the amount of influence News International (the paper's owners) had over the police and senior politicians. The result was what one respected media commentator described as a "revolution".

    I won't recount the full story here as it is long enough to fill a book (or two), but I will try to cover the key points in brief before thinking about the story's implications for the Tanzania media. And if you want to understand it in more detail, I would strongly recommend the (UK) Guardian's coverage - it was their journalists who exposed most of this in the first place.

    27 Jul 2011

    The $100 smartphone in Tanzania?

    The $100 smartphone - IDEOS from Huawei
    It's been a while since my last post here - a few weeks off work is the reason. I had been intending to get the blog going again with a post on some of the things I was doing while away from the office (various conferences, seminars, etc.), but that will have to wait. Because I'm completely blown away by the new phone I got while on my travels, and it's worth sharing this more widely.

    The phone is Huawei's IDEOS Android (Google) smartphone, bought through Safaricom in Kenya, where they sell for $100, unlocked. This makes them the cheapest smartphone available, a lot cheaper than the Blackberries and other high-end smartphones that currently dominate Tanzania's smartphone market. It's less than a quarter of the price of its closest competitor I could find last week in Dar, and cheaper even than most data-enabled phones I could find (with a lot more features and capability).

    9 Jun 2011

    Answering the wrong question - privatisation and the right to water

    The UN General Assembly recently adopted a resolution recognising the "right to water". On the face of it, this is hardly a controversial resolution, since who would oppose something as obviously vital as water. But dig a little deeper, and there are some tricky issues here.

    For many advocates of this right, the UN resolution has been used as an opportunity to re-open the privatisation debate that burned strongly and divided many over the past two decades. A recent special issue (No. 533) of Pambazuka, a magazine promoting freedom and social justice in Africa, focuses on "Water and Privatisation", aiming to do just that. The argument is that if water is a basic human right, surely it should be available for free. Or at least, multinational corporations should not be allowed to profit from its provision.

    7 Jun 2011

    What would "free" distribution mean for Tanzanian newspapers?

    Mozambique's free @Verdade newspaper, picture from guardian.co.uk
    The (UK) Guardian published an article this week on it's Global Development website about @Verdade, a weekly newspaper in Mozambique that's distributed completely free of charge. The same paper has been the focus of articles in Time magazine and Think Africa Press as well. They give away 50,000 copies a week, and estimate their weekly readership to be around 400,000 people, making it the most read newspaper in Mozambique.

    I'm not aware of any Tanzanian newspapers that are distributed free of charge. There are plenty of newsletters and the like, some of which are made to look like newspapers, but there's a big difference between a company, government department or organisation publishing a newsletter to promote its own work and a genuine newspaper trying to be profitable using without charging a cover price. Even Femina, publishers of Fema and Si Mchezo magazines, for which the vast majority of copies are distributed free of charge is not really using a free model as it's usually understood since it is funded by donors. Nor are they really news magazines.

    Elsewhere in the world, "free" as a model for newspapers is gaining ground. In the UK, the Metro has always (I think) been a free paper, and others are experimenting with the same and similar ideas. So if it can be made to work in the UK, and even in Mozambique, why has nobody made it work in Tanzania?

    31 May 2011

    Finally, good data on sanitation in Tanzania. But it paints a bad picture

    For years, the true state of household sanitation in Tanzania has been hidden by bad data. Household surveys have repeatedly found that around 85% of households across most of Tanzania have access to a pit latrine, with around 10% having better facilities (like flush toilets) and around 5% having nothing. This high level of access to basic latrines is a result of Mwl Nyerere's Mtu ni Afya campaign in the 1970s.

    But other than providing an opportunity for an interesting history lesson, this statistic was almost useless, as it made no distinction between well constructed, clean pit latrines and filthy, overflowing or uncovered pits. Now, at last, we have better data.

    18 May 2011

    Sungura na Kobe - Up-country internet speeds in "ICT-Hub" Tanzania

    Sungura na Kobe, aka TTCL na Voda
    An old Greek fairytale tells of the hare (sungura) and the tortoise (kobe) having a race. The hare runs back and forth, teasing the tortoise about how easy the win will be. Eventually the hare is so far ahead that it stops for a rest and falls asleep. When the hare wakes up, it finds that the tortoise has already finished.

    I often have this story in mind when trying to connect to the internet here in Njombe. We have 2 main options - TTCL "broadband" and Vodacom "mobile broadband" (there are other mobile networks providing internet access as well, but Voda stands out well above the others).

    16 May 2011

    DFID Tanzania Operational Plan

    A few weeks ago, this blog looked at DFID's recent Aid Reviews and asked what this meant for Tanzania. There wasn't much Tanzania-specific information available at the time, so it was a slightly speculative and incomplete analysis. But now DFID has now published its 2011-2015 Operational Plan for Tanzania, which means we have a little more information to work with.
    Breakdown of DFID's Operational Plan for Tanzania, 2011-15
    Some brief highlights:

    12 May 2011

    Daraja's Maji Matone programme, as presented by Ben Taylor (video)

    This video was recorded so I could participate in a student seminar in UCLA, California, and make a presentation to Twaweza's Advisory Board in Dar es Salaam, all without leaving the lovely, if remote, town of Njombe.

    Ben Taylor on Maji Matone, May 2011 from Ben Taylor on Vimeo.

    For Twaweza Board Members and UCLA students, the downside to this approach is that I can't respond to questions in person. But please add any comments or questions you may have in the comments section below, either in the facebook section or the comments box further down the page, and I'll do my best to get back to you.

    3 May 2011

    Are we free? Celebrating World Press Freedom Day

    The following cartoon and editorial column was published in our Kwanza Jamii Njombe newspaper earlier this week. The original Swahili can be found below the English translation.

    Possible effects of limited press freedom - click to enlarge

    Are we free?

    May 3rd is World Press Freedom Day. It’s a day to celebrate the contribution of the media to society and to development. And it’s a day for public education on both the importance of press freedom and the threats it faces.

    22 Apr 2011

    Mapping for Results - what does this World Bank project tell us about Tanzania?

    A lot of people have been pushing recently at the link between mapping and accountability. Whether it's detailed local maps of reported crime in the UK or East Africa's own Ushahidi platform, the internet and mobile phones are enabling new map-based ways of collecting, visualising and sharing information that can potentially be used to hold decision makers to account.

    The most recent example comes from the World Bank. They recently published their Mapping for Results site, which presents (on a map, of course) details of 1250 current World Bank-financed projects in over 16,000 locations in 79 countries. Each location has a marker that can be clicked to reveal more details of the project and its location.

    For Tanzania, the map shows 40 financed activities in 524 locations:

    Mapping for Results - Tanzania map (click to enlarge)

    17 Apr 2011

    Daraja is growing, and looking for new staff

    Update: Please note that the deadline for applications for these positions has now passed. We will be contacting shortlisted candidates shortly.

    - - - - - - - -

    Later this year, Daraja will be launching Kwanza Jamii Iringa, a sister paper to our existing Kwanza Jamii Njombe. We are therefore looking for five new members of staff to take on this work, as follows:

    • Managing Editor, overseeing both Kwanza Jamii Njombe and Kwanza Jamii Iringa 
    • Editor for Kwanza Jamii Iringa
    • Designer/Journalist for Kwanza Jamii Iringa
    • Programme Officer, a role supporting both papers with work on civic education, investigative journalism and citizen participation. This would suit someone with a civil society background and experience working on government accountability projects.
    • Business Manager, to oversee the commercial side of Kwanza Jamii Iringa
    We are also advertising a new position, Head of Finance and Administration, so our growth can be supported with a stronger administrative team.

    Finally, we are re-advertising the position we posted earlier this year - Monitoring and Research Officer. This position supporting monitoring and research across both our Maji Matone and Kwanza Jamii programmes, as well as conducting some research on local governance issues.

    Our current staff are a very strong and dynamic group, committed to making local government more responsive to the community. We want our new staff to fit the same profile.

    If that's you, and you meet the requirements for one or more of these jobs, we would love to hear from you. Please go to the vacancies section of our website, where you will find more details of the positions and of how to apply. Or if you know someone who might be interested, please pass the link on to them.

    The deadline for applications for these positions is May 16th, 2011.

    - - - - - - - -

    Update: Please note that the deadline for applications for these positions has now passed. We will be contacting shortlisted candidates shortly.

    7 Apr 2011

    "Doublehanded" new politics? Observing @JMakamba and @ZittoKabwe

    The hot topic of Tanzanian blogosphere at the moment seems to be use of social media by young politicians. January Makamba and Zitto Kabwe in particular have got the analysts thinking, documenting the use of social media by these two intriguing characters and trying to reach a conclusion on how significant this really is.

    I won't go through all the points raised, but posts on The Mikocheni Report (and earlier), VijanaFMAfterAfrica (and an earlier oneand another), Ani Jozen in the Guardian are all worth reading, as is this broader analysis from the Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung that includes a brief section on Tanzania. The recent Tanzania Media Fund event on media and accountability helped the debate along, and of course it has raged on Twitter too. The tweets below were all posted in response to AfterAfrica's recent post, change comes with the youthful?

    Change comes with the youthful? Click to enlarge

    5 Apr 2011

    Daraja / Maji Matone presented at World Bank ICT Days

    Daraja was invited to make a presentation last week at the World Bank's ICT* Days in Washington. (Thanks to Twaweza for putting us forward for this.)

    Rather than travel all that way for an 8 minute presentation, I was able to present from the Bank's Dar es Salaam office via Video-Conference. My presentation is below.

    * For this conference, ICT is both a standard acronym (Information and Communication Technologies) and a more unusual one: Innovate, Connect, Transform.

    4 Apr 2011

    Daraja in the Guardian

    Daraja had the pleasure of a guest appearance last Friday in the (UK) Guardian, when one of our main partners (and donors), Twaweza was featured in an article on the paper's Poverty Matters blog. Under the headline "How citizens can make development happen", the Guardian's Madeleine Bunting presented her take on Twaweza's approach, based on a conversation with Twaweza's founder, Rakesh Rajani. Daraja and our Maji Matone programme got a paragraph:
    Twaweza is rather like an umbrella organisation, and the work it supports and facilitates is hugely diverse. It has helped a new venture, Daraja, to get off the ground. Daraja aims to make local government more accountable to citizens in rural Tanzania, and has piloted a project in three districts enabling people to report through SMS that their well or water source is not working. Daraja collates the information and sends it to the district water engineer. Every month it produces reports and league tables for districts, which it then sends higher up in the government. It also releases the information to the media and on Facebook. It has proved very effective at "concentrating the mind" comments Rajani wryly.
    It will surprise no-one that Daraja supports Twaweza's citizens' agency approach. But it's great to see such a respected thinker and commentator as Madeleine Bunting lending her support and giving Twaweza (and Daraja) wider exposure. 

    If you haven't done so already, read the article. Besides the section on Daraja, it also let slip yet more shocking information on the state of Tanzania's education sector - how do educational standards in Tanzania compare to Kenya?  

    30 Mar 2011

    More funding for the water sector must be good news, surely?

    The Ministry of Water had an important visitor last week - President Jakaya Kikwete himself. Like any good visitor, he came bearing gifts, pretty impressive ones at that. Reports differ on the precise amount promised, but whether it's "between 500 and 700 billion shillings" (The Citizen) or a straight "700 billion" (The Guardian), this is serious money. The Ministry's budget for the current financial year is "only" 300 billion, itself a major increase compared to just a few years earlier.

    Surely this is good news. After all, as this blog has argued previously, the sector lacks political attention, services in both rural and urban areas are poor, and existing funding is only a drop in the ocean compared what's required to solve these problems.

    28 Mar 2011

    Gongo la Mboto revisited: social media and redio mbao

    To date, this blog's most read post, by a pretty wide margin, is our analysis of how traditional Tanzanian media reported the Gongo la Mboto explosions in February. There we used Twitter to piece together an assessment of traditional media's performance in reporting the tragedy.

    Since that was posted, at least three other blogs have also used Gongo la Mboto as a case study of the media in Tanzania - specifically Vijana FM, Global Voices and a more academic analysis from Malmo University's Communication for Development Portal. Each has something valuable to offer, but as SwahiliStreet has rightly pointed out in comments on the Daraja and VijanaFM posts, none (ours included) have really got to grips with one big challenge of social media - accuracy and reliability.

    25 Mar 2011

    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?

    22 Mar 2011

    World Water Day: Three surprising facts about urban water supply in Tanzania

    Today, March 22nd, is World Water Day. In Tanzania, a week-long event has been held in Mwanza to "observe" Maji Week, which ends today. Daraja has been represented there of course, along with civil society more generally through Tanzania's growing water sector network Tawasanet.

    This year's theme is rather unwieldy:

    Water for Cities: Responding to Urban Challenges with activities aiming to communicate messages on growing urban water and sanitation demand, increased pollution from municipal and industrial discharges, climate change and its foreseen risks and challengers, overexploitation of available water resources and better targeting of urban poor.
    It's also outside our rural focus - Daraja can't claim the same level of expertise on urban water supply. But we're not going to let that stop us from making a few comments on the theme, covering three surprising facts about urban water supply in Tanzania.

    21 Mar 2011

    Mfuko wa Majimbo - Unconstitutional, or going with the grain?

    A few days ago, a group of seven civil society organisations, including Policy Forum and the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) filed a case with the High Court of Tanzania, arguing that the act establishing the Constituency Development Catalyst Fund, or Mfuka wa Majimbo, is unconstitutional. In doing so, they are following the lead of other organisations raising challenges to similar constituency-based development funds in other countries.

    17 Mar 2011

    Getting honest about rural water supply, and MKUKUTA II getting it wrong

    It's Maji Week, so a good time for some more analysis of key water supply issues. Several times this blog has presented arguments that the main challenges in rural water supply are political rather than technical or even administrative. We've argued, for example, that two of the biggest problems (inequitable distribution of access to clean and safe water in rural areas and keeping rural waterpoints functioning) are both political issues, and reported on how this perspective is far from the conventional wisdom in the water sector, dominated as it is by engineers and technocrats. And we've shown how political attention has failed to match the political nature of the sector by documenting how little focus there was on water supply in last year's general election campaigns - as reflected both in campaign manifesto commitments or in the media (and again here). But we've not yet looked at one of the most politicised aspects of rural water supply - data.

    Just as enrollment rates and exam results attract attention and controversy in the education sector, so estimates of access to clean and safe water and functionality rates (what percentage of waterpoints are functioning at any given time) are fought over at length.

    15 Mar 2011

    How to keep the water flowing? Tufanyeje ili maji yaendelea kutiririka vijijini?

    As published in Mwananchi Newspaper (Kauli Mbadala column) on March 15th, 2011
    An English translation is below.
    Wananchi wanaoishi vijijini wakihojiwa juu ya matatizo yanayokumba maeneo yao, wengi wanajibu kuwa shida kubwa ni usambazaji wa maji. Katika utafiti wa Afrobarometer juu ya mitazamo ya jamii ya mwaka 2005 na 2008, kwa mfano, huduma za maji zilitajwa kuwa shida kubwa kuliko elimu, kilimo, umaskini, afya, UKIMWI na hata rushwa.

    11 Mar 2011

    Kwanza Jamii Njombe's first external evaluation. By 14 Form 4 students

    A class of form 4 students from Mpechi Secondary School visited Daraja on Thursday as part of a journalism project for their Swahili class. We are giving them a page to produce in our next issue and they gave us their feedback on the first seven issues of the paper. This feedback is produced in full here first in the original Swahili, and translated into English below. As with any external evaluation, we don't agree with everything they've said, but there are some very good points in there.

    10 Mar 2011

    "Are we teaching, or cheating?" The primary education capitation grant in practice in Njombe

    This feature article was previously published in the Kwanza Jamii Njombe March issue, in the paper's regular section of investigations - Uchunguzi. - An English translation is below the Swahili

    “Je, tunawafundisha watoto au tunawadanganya?"

    - Fedha za Uendeshaji wa Shule za Msingi hazigawi ipasavyo
    - Shule moja yapata shs 122 kwa kila mwanafunzi (badala ya 10,000/-)
    - Walimu Wakuu wadai kushindwa kuendesha shule
    - Mfumo kusitishwa mwezi wa sita – Nini kinafuata haijulikani!

    Na Wandishi Wetu
    Cartoon courtesy of HakiElimu

    Tuntufye ni mwanafunzi wa darasa la saba katika shule moja iliyopo jirani na Uwemba. Anakaribia kumaliza shule ya msingi. Angependa sana kuendelea na masomo ila hana uhakika kama itawezekana.

    Kinachomjengea mashaka Tuntufye ni kwamba shule yake haina vitabu vya kutosha kwa wanafunzi wote. Wakisoma kiingereza wanatumia vitabu kumi kwa darasa la wanafunzi zaidi ya 50. Wakisoma hisabati, wanatumia vitabu sita tu. 

    8 Mar 2011

    Low tech advocacy: Njombe bus stand closed by protesters

    We don't like to overwhelm our supporters with too many posts in quick succession on this blog, but the coincidence of International Women's Day and the protests at Njombe bus stand give us good reason to make an exception.

    Neither the Speaker of Parliament (the local MP) Anna Makinda, nor the Municipal Director George Mkindo, nor the Minister of Information, Culture and Sport, Emmanuel Nchimbi, passing through town en route from his constituency in Songea, were able to persuade the protesters to open the bus stand. We have no pictures of their efforts unfortunately, but we have plenty that illustrate the protest as well as the reasons behind it - so we'll let the pictures and the protesters signs do the talking. We will follow this up with some analysis at a later date.

    Protesters at the blocked entrance

    World Women's Day: Mwanamke wa Kijijini

    From Casiana Ndimbo, Kwanza Jamii Njombe journalist

    Mwanamke wa kijijini ni nguzo muhimu sana katika familia, yeye ndiye anayehusika kwa asilimia kubwa katika kusimamia mambo yote ya nyumbani ikiwa ni pamoja na kulea watoto, kupiki, kuhakikisha shughuli zote za nyumbani zinafanyika tena kwa wakati muafaka.

    Mwanamke wa kijijini ni chachu ya mabadiliko ya kiuchumi na kijamii pia, tunaamini kuwa mwanamke anaweza kuleta mabadiliko makubwa sana katika jamii kwani wanawake wengi hupenda sana kufanya kazi mbailmbali ambazo zinawaingizia kipato.

    4 Mar 2011

    Future DFID funding in Tanzania - a radically different approach?

    The British government's aid department, DFID, announced earlier this week the results of a major review of how they spend their money. Described by the Minister, Andrew Mitchell, as a "radically different approach to aid" and considered "the most extensive shake-up of aid in recent history", these reviews have a tough job to live up to their billing. It's not for Daraja to assess the changes being brought in, as that has been very well done by others with far more experience and expertise to bring to the table, but we are in a position to ask what these changes mean for Britain's funding to Tanzania.

    Let's start with the headline numbers. Tanzania is budgeted to get an average of £161m ($263m) per year between 2011/12 and 2014/15. This is equivalent to a 12% increase on the £150m budgeted by DFID for Tanzania in the current financial year, itself an increase from £143.6m in 2009/10. This makes Tanzania the 8th biggest recipient of UK aid money.

    2 Mar 2011

    Anniversaries galore: HakiElimu and Restless Development

    I had the unexpected pleasure of receiving two invitations to NGO parties this week. They came from two organisations that have influenced Daraja in fundamental ways, both of which are have significant anniversaries to celebrate - HakiElimu is ten years old (and still energising Tanzania), and Restless Development is 25.

    In ten years, HakiElimu has pushed the boundaries for civil society activity in Tanzania, forging the space that Daraja now occupies working on accountability and citizens' agency. More particularly, HakiElimu's vividly effective demonstration of the power of information and the media to deliver change was the inspiration behind much of what Daraja is now doing.

    And Restless Development, now a very different organisation from that which was formed as Schools Partnership Worldwide 25 years ago, has evolved into a world leader in youth development. More than any other organisation I know, they demonstrate how passionate commitment and professionalism can co-exist in a happy partnership. And on a personal note, the six years I spent at SPW (as it then was) were hugely formative for me personally and I remain very grateful for the opportunities they gave me.

    The NGO world has its share of armchair critics, cynically dismissing organisations and projects on the basis of often pretty minor differences in ideology or approach. I've been as guilty of that as anyone. So lets take these two anniversaries as an opportunity to redress the balance and applaud these two organisations for their many achievements. Congratulations to them both, and we wish them continued success with their valuable and inspiring work.

    27 Feb 2011

    Who advertises in Kwanza Jamii Njombe, and why?

    At the meeting a couple of weeks ago with Femina, one of the most interesting points of discussion was print advertising. This may be a declining industry elsewhere in the world, but in Tanzania it seems the potential of running newspapers and magazines that are largely funded through advertising is strong, and growing.

    Sample Kwanza Jamii adverts - click to enlarge
    Femina gets most of its funding from donors and therefore hasn't needed to take much paid advertising. But their circulation and readership figures are so big that they can charge very high rates for space. At the meeting, the representative of another very successful Tanzanian magazine was taken aback at how much Femina charges.

    Like Femina, Daraja also receives a combination of donor funding and advertising, in our case for the Kwanza Jamii Njombe newspaper. But advertising is a much bigger proportion of our revenue, despite the fact that our audience is much smaller and very localised.

    20 Feb 2011

    #bombsindar: Gongo la Mboto, the media event, as told by Twitter

    The explosions at Gongo la Mboto on Wednesday were a huge tragedy in human terms and a huge embarrassment for the government in general and the army in particular. But they also showed up the state of the Tanzanian media in a less-than-positive light. Coverage of what's probably Tanzania's biggest news event of the year has been disappointing.

    For various reasons I wasn't able to follow TV or radio news directly, only indirectly via Twitter, Facebook and Jamii Forums. Journalism was once famously described as the first rough draft of history, but perhaps there's now an even earlier "zero draft" available: the twitter feed recording an event as it unfolds.

    19 Feb 2011

    The most trusted media brand in Tanzania?

    On Friday I attended a very interesting meeting hosted by one of Tanzania's leading media organisations, but one that often get's forgotten in analyses of the Tanzanian media sector. They produce a magazine that's read by 12% of the adult population (2.8 million readers) each month and another that's read by 5% (over 1 million) - easily the two most read magazines in the country and in the same range as the top newspapers*. Both magazines have print runs of nearly 200,000 copies per issue. On top of that they also produce a popular TV show, a website and are even involved in radio. You've probably already worked it out, but just in case you haven't, I'm talking about Femina, with their Fema and Si Mchezo magazines, Fema TV Talk Show, chezasalama.com and the Pilika Pilika radio programme.

    10 Feb 2011

    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.

    19 Jan 2011

    Job Opportunity with Daraja: Monitoring and Research Officer



    - - - - -

    Are you an experienced researcher or monitoring and evaluation specialist? Do you have a passion for working to make local government more accountable? If so, take a look at the advert below and the job opportunity it presents - Daraja is looking for a Monitoring and Research Officer. 

    Or if you're not the right person for the post, perhaps you know someone who is? Please spread the word about this opportunity and help Daraja get the best person for the job. 

     - - - - -

    Job Opportunity: Monitoring and Research Officer

    Daraja is inviting applications for a Monitoring and Research Officer. This position is responsible for overseeing monitoring and evaluation for our two governance and accountability programmes – Maji Matone and Kwanza Jamii. It also includes conducting a series of short research projects on local governance, and on using social networks and social media to increase local government accountability.

    We are looking for someone with experience of developing monitoring and evaluation systems for a respected NGO and of conducting social research. Experience with social media and social networks is an advantage. Applicants should ideally hold a Masters degree in a relevant subject (economics, sociology, development studies, etc.).

    For more details of this position and of how to apply, see the vacancies section of our website: www.daraja.org/vacancies

    Our website also includes extensive information on our work.

    The deadline for applications for this position is 5pm on Monday 7th February 2011.

    Daraja particularly encourages applications from women and young people.

    14 Jan 2011

    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.

    12 Jan 2011

    Messages are flowing, and water too? An update on MajiMatone

    Shortly after last year's election our MajiMatone programme's pilot phase in three districts got underway. Radio programmes and spots have been going out on three radio stations, the SMS system has been up and running, and a huge number of publications have been distributed around Njombe, Mbozi and Morogoro Rural (see image for an example).

    It's only just two months since we began this process and it's far too soon to draw any firm conclusions about the public response to the programme. But there are some early signs to report, mostly positive, though some are more challenging.