With Stephano Msuya – Project Field Officer (YALI RLC Alumnus Cohort 21, Civic Leadership in Kilimanjaro region)

MVIWATA KILIMANJARO entered into an agreement with WE EFFECT to implement a project namely Promoting Farmers’ Networks For Inclusive Development (Farm NID). Since, MVIWATA Kilimanjaro works with 4016 members who are smallholder farmers in 5 Districts which are Same, Rombo, Mwanga, Hai, and Moshi DC, the existence of Coronavirus in Tanzania, specifically in Kilimanjaro region, forced MVIWATA Kilimanjaro to seek for the funds from We Effect for awareness creation campaign on Coronavirus (COVID19) in all districts which have MVIWATA Kilimanjaro members by working closely with the Kilimanjaro Regional Office (under Regional Administrative Secretary, Regional Medical Officer, and Regional Community Development Officer) as well as all District Medical Officers.

Many people in rural settings have little understanding of COVID 19 as most are limited in accessing the right information from the trusted sources as the CoronaVirus disease spreads, also there was an increasing stigma that COVID19 affects only people in towns or cities which are not true. This is a threat to the rural farmers as the COVID 19 may spread and affect the lives of the rural people because of the limited awareness and access to accurate COVID 19 information.

The limited awareness and access to accurate COVID 19 information are caused by several reasons like the language problem some rural areas like in Same District, in Ruvu village where the Maasai community is only effective in their mother tongue village, there is a possibility for them to be limited in accessing the right and accurate information, hence there is a need of close follow-up or using their language in raising awareness about COVID19, also the limited government funds to facilitate awareness creation campaigns to all villages might be another barrier to rural farmers to access the right information.

MVIWATA Kilimanjaro used Public Announcement system, distribution of flyers and posters to the public settings like Government offices from Regional to village levels, health centers and dispensaries, local community markets, bus and motorcycle stations, and other populated areas mostly in the rural areas.

Main concerns for awareness creation on COVID 19

  1. To create awareness about COVID19 to the 17 primary farmers networks in 5 Districts of Kilimanjaro region by May 2020.
  2. To link with the Local government institutions to limit human to human transmission by reducing the secondary infections of COVID19 as directed by World Health Organization – WHO by May 2020.

 Results of the activity (so far)

  • The campaign reached to all 6 Districts of the Kilimanjaro region where the following table illustrates the Village coverage:
Rombo D.C Moshi Siha Hai D.C Same Mwanga
Mamsera,Ushiri, Ubaa, Mkuu, Mashati,Tarakea Shambarai, Kindi, Kibosho, Rau, and Umbwe Ivaeny, Karansi, Magadini and Sanya juu Boma la Ng’ombe, Chemka, Kawaya, Mkalama, Kawaya, Rundugai, Shirimgungani, Shirinjoro, Mijongweni, Kikavu Chini Ishinde, Same Mjini, Kisiwani, Maore, Mpirani, Kihurio, Ndungu, Mkomazi, Hedaru, Makanya Mgagao, Kambi ya Simba, Butu, Kigonigoni, Kirya, Lembeni, Mwanga Mjini
  • All 5000 posters and 700 fliers were distributed for awareness creation on COVID19 to all 6 Districts in the Kilimanjaro region.
  • Strengthened the relationship between local government authorities and MVIWATA Kilimanjaro as all District Community Development and Medical departments were involved in the implementation of the campaign.

Major Lessons (on the process, on actors, on approach, on results)

  • If the community is aware and well informed on COVID19, they can be accountable and responsible for taking the suggested measures. For instance, in Hedaru, the Same, some people were able to call MVIWATA Kilimanjaro and share some COVID19 suspects so as MVIWATA Kilimanjaro can report to the District Medical Officer.
  • There is a need for regular monitoring on community response on the suggested preventive measures like social distancing and stopping round-sharing of local beer cups in the rural areas of the Kilimanjaro region due to inadequate awareness on COVID19 among the people.
  • Due to the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) mainly face masks, sanitizers, most of the rural people remain vulnerable for COVID19 infections.
  • There is a need to train and educate more Healthcare Personnel on COVID 19 in the rural areas mostly in Rombo, Mwanga, and Hai Districts.
  • There is a need for the District Council offices to plan for the budget which will support the awareness creation campaigns on COVID19 in the rural areas.

MVIWATA Kilimanjaro is focusing on continuing to provide awareness and updates on COVID-19 to farmers’ groups in the Kilimanjaro. As an organization, we focus on capacity building (Education and skills) to farmers and ensuring financial inclusion by capacity building to Village Community Banks, VICOBA, Savings and Credits Cooperatives (SACCOs), and Agricultural Marketing Cooperatives (AMCOs)

At this time, we are focusing on using media like using some adverts related to Farming activities in the TV/Radio stations and using online platforms like Facebook live to deliver the message to other people about COVID19.

Brayson Lema
YALI TV Country Correspondent
Tanzania