Showcasing the wonders of water – a glimpse of MEDA’s Tanzania projects on World Water Day

Created in 1993, the UN World Water Day recognizes and raises awareness of the importance of water and of the 2 billion people living without access to this essential resource. A core focus of World Water Day is to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: Water and Sanitation for all by 2030. The theme for this year is “Groundwater – making the invisible visible.”

Several MEDA projects have focused on preserving water through technologies like rainwater harvest tanks, or reducing the impact of flooding on crops, such as rice.

Considering this special day, here’s a glimpse at two projects that worked to provide this essential resource for entrepreneurs and farmers in Tanzania: the Strengthening Small Business Value Chains (SSBVC) and the Feminist Entrepreneurs Growing Greener Economies (FEGGE) projects.

The SSBVC project

In Tanzania, the SSBVC project was a six-year initiative between 2015 and 2021 and was funded and implemented by MEDA and Global Affairs Canada (GAC). Through the SSBVC project, MEDA partnered with Mamboleo Farms Limited (MFL) and Natural Extract Industries (NEI) to conserve water during droughts and rainwater shortages.

Pictured above: A woman farmer in Tanzania tilling the field during the SSBVC project

MFL is a private company that plants and processes rice. They work with more than a thousand small entrepreneurs (SEs), providing a reliable market through contract farming, access to productive assets, mobilization into alliances, provision of seed inputs, and training. MFL has built awareness and has offered infrastructure such as irrigation schemes and applied a system of rice intensification to these SEs to keep them away from farming in mangrove forests. Protection of mangrove forests is key as it acts among other things as a natural barrier and reduces damaging floods.

MFL partnered with MEDA and installed a solar power system with a capacity of 86 KW to fuel irrigation pumps to lower the cost of seed production, improving their productivity and their income. The solar-powered irrigation farm has also increased the growing season from one season to two seasons per year with the SARO-5 seedling which is being provided to SEs to improve their efficiency of growing rice and increasing the yield size. Check out the short video below:

NEI is a social enterprise that strives to accelerate the economic development of smallholder farmers by adding value to local crops, particularly vanilla. The company works with over 1,600 vanilla farmers through contract farming arrangements in the Kilimanjaro, Arusha, and Morogoro regions of Tanzania, buying raw materials (vanilla) under contract farming and processing them into final products. Through the project, NEI installed 324 rainwater harvesting tanks and roof connections for 324 SEs (104 Female) of the Kilimanjaro and Arusha regions for vanilla farmers with limited access to water.

This project motivated many new and existing vanilla farmers from the area since drought was preventing vanilla farmers from expanding. Traditionally, the farmers’ main source of water are rivers, which is often insufficient for farmers in drier areas. The tanks provide water for farmers during the dry season, shorter rain seasons, and during drought. NEI also trains farmers on mulching and shade coverage to reduce water loss and drip irrigation using plastic bottles, a technique that is more efficient than using a hose pipe or watering can. When properly managed, it can reduce water usage by as much as 75%. In the future, farmers may also use these tanks to store furrow water.

Pictured above: a rainwater harvest tank installed to one vanilla smallholder farmer in Machame, Kilimanjaro. The tank has a 5,000 liter (1,100 gallon) storage capacity.

The FEGGE project

With the close of the SSBVC project, in June 2021, MEDA launched its new FEGGE project in Tanzania: Taking place over six and a half years, it is working to improve the economic prosperity of women and men feminist small medium entrepreneurs (F-SMEs) to promote women’s economic empowerment (WEE) and climate-smart business. It will focus on the dryland and semi-arid regions of Tanzania.

The dryland regions face critical water, land, and energy management challenges. The challenges include low agricultural productivity, resulting in food insecurity; unpredictable weather patterns, due to climate change; poor management of water resources; lack of climate-smart agriculture technologies; and socio-cultural structures that limit equitable access to opportunities and resources for women in rural areas. These challenges have a negative impact on rural livelihoods, particularly women’s livelihoods, as women bear the brunt of providing their communities with water. The FEGGE project will address these challenges directly through increased access to water, climate-smart agriculture, and green business approaches. Climate-smart agriculture will improve the integration of agriculture development and climate responsiveness to strengthen the business capacities of women farmers.

Women and girls are often the main producers of food and providers of water, heating, and cooking fuel for their households. When these resources become more unpredictable and scarcer because of extreme weather, women and girls must spend more time to fulfill these basic needs. The project focuses on building sustainable climate-resilient communities, and strengthening climate adaptation, mitigation capabilities, and water management approaches. These approaches can alleviate the burden placed on women from household responsibilities and other climate-related stresses, like water scarcity.

Overall, MEDA was pleased to see how SSBVC and the FEGGE projects promote the use of more resilient crops, support access to and the efficient use of water through green technologies, and encourage the adoption of clean energy technologies as well as support reliable access to climate information. We are committed to creating, through our projects, a world and livelihoods for our clients that is more sustainable and climate-smart.

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