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.