Jambo and greetings from Babati, Tanzania. As some of you may know from my previous blog posts, my name is Daniel Simonson, and I am the business analyst/gender intern for the MASAVA project. I have been posted in Babati for almost two months now and have had the opportunity to better understand the inner workings of the MASAVA project. With that in mind, this new blog is intended to keep you up to date on the daily ins and outs of the project from the perspective of the field. Through these bi-weekly posts, I hope to convey some of the challenges and successes we face as a team in the field, and the solutions that we arrive at. I would like to begin by introducing the members of the team that work in the field. In addition, I will introduce other members of the team in future posts.
In Babati we have myself, Nyangwakwa Ndili (whom we call Ndili) and Alfayo Balegeleje. Ndili is the Field Officer (FO) based in Babati and as such is tasked with ensuring the daily functioning of the project in the field. It is a job that takes great patience and dedication as there is hardly a day when Ndili is not on the phone or visiting producers and retailers to explain the mechanisms of the project or to ensure that there is continued interaction with our various partners. Ndili has a strong rapport with the large network of peoples and organizations that we rely on for the success of the project. Alfayo is Ndili’s partner in the field and is responsible for safely driving us around. Having a responsible and dependable driver is something that you do not take for granted in Tanzania. I am very thankful for his professionalism. Similarly, the team in Babati is made up of a Field Officer and a driver. Their names are Emmanuel Makundi and Kanuti Tembo. While I have only met them once personally I know from their results in the field that they are a dedicated team without whom the project in the Shinyanga region would not be possible.
Over the past two to three weeks, the two field teams have been working in Shinyanga region to prepare for the rollout of our new volumes of oil (5 & 20 liters). This process has involved working with the small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to agree on new production and distribution schedules while training retailers on how these new volumes will impact their use of the eVoucher platform. The introduction of these new volumes has been in response to the fact that consumers of oil in Tanzania have traditionally bought oil in smaller quantities, the smallest unit being a mere spoonful. The predominant reason for this is simply because low income levels force families to buy oil on a day-to-day basis depending on the level of available funds. On the opposite end, larger quantities will allow our oil to be sold to small businesses such as food vendors who requested that larger quantities be made available.
In conjunction with the introduction of new volumes for sale, the MASAVA team has also been coordinating with our Behavior Change Communication (BCC) partners to aggressively promote the new volumes of oil by illustrating the health benefits of Vitamin A sunflower oil. This new push is also an opportunity for the team to target specific regions or wards where sales have been lower than the projects average. We are hopeful that this new phase of the project will boost our sales and ultimately reach those most affected by Vitamin A deficiency.
That is all for now. I shall be writing another post towards the end of the month. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Your support is much appreciated!