WOMEN FARMING FOR THEIR FUTURE
Two years ago our unique, path setting project in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania was magnificently supported through crowd funding. This money has enabled 120 women farmers to come out of poverty by growing and selling directly to the highly successful local hotel industry.
Wonderfully, they have created the WAMBOMA cooperative, and now, instead of the women competing with each other in the market place and selling their produce at very low prices to dealers, who sell on to the hotels, the project enables them to supply to the hotels directly.
However, we are facing a crisis. Climate change is now putting the project’s continuing development at risk.
The project has been knocked off course by the damaging effects of climate change. Heavy, unseasonal rains and floods are washing away the women’s crops and there is now insufficient water for irrigation from Kilimanjaro to stop crops dying from drought. Thankfully, there are some critical solutions that we can put in place, but these require more funding. Your help can make this happen.
OUR IMPACT SO FAR
120 women across two villages are now trained in new methods of farming, business processes and entrepreneurship, but – importantly – also their legal rights and women’s empowerment. The farmers involved in this project were previously the most marginlised and poorest in their communities. Now, they have created WAMBOMA Cooperative so that they no longer compete for profit but rather they work together, and the results have already been transformative:
- Improved profits: Before, the women made less than £1 day. Now, £4-5 profit per day is not unusual.
- More saving power: Before, few could save even 30p a week. Now, some women save as much as £3 a week.
- For the first time in their lives, the farmers and their families have food security.
- After being trained in modern farming techniques, women in the project, who had previously used traditional farming techniques which embedded them in poverty, are now being asked for advice by others and are now walking tall with improved confidence and self-esteem.
- WAMBOMA now has a shop in Moshi town and three women have been trained to manage it in shifts. It is the distribution point for the produce, but locals too are coming in to buy the quality vegetables.
- The Cooperative now supplies fruit and vegetables to a local hotel and restaurant.
- Many of the women have used their business training to set up micro-businesses to supplement their income.
BUT WHY IS THE PROJECT AT RISK?
Climate Change is having a dramatic impact on the project. The weather in Tanzania is no longer predictable. Flash floods have washed away the crops three times at Mailisita village, at the base of the mountain, while water shortages in Namwai, on Kilimanjaro, are making it difficult to care for crops in the dry season.
The snows of Kilimanjaro, which have watered local farms with abundance for generations, are disappearing. It is tragic looking up at this iconic mountain and seeing how sparse the snow cover is. What water there is also goes to the trekkers and porters, whose numbers are multiplying year on year. In the village of Namwai, where the second group of farmers lives and works, the women say that sometimes they are only allowed one hour’s use of water a day in the dry season and so their crops die – this, despite paying annual fees to the local Water Maintenance Committee.
WAMBOMA coop members Lucy and Reneta on their pea farms earlier in the year.
Now, flash floods have washed away the crops - this photo shows the very real effect that climate change has had on Lucy's farm and livelihood.
Lucy told us "Since I joined this project, I have been able to solve the problem of food scarcity at my household. Before the project, I was only producing maize and beans. But after learning about the horticulture farming methods, I can now grow vegetables for my family to consume all year round, as well as to sell to the tourist market. I can now say that I have maize for ugali, and many vegetables to eat with my ugali. Achieving food security is my best aspect of this project. Now, with the floods I am worried that my children won't be able to eat well any more."
Once the crops are lost, the women don’t have the capital to buy new seed. Without ripe crops to pick, the coop cannot guarantee supplies to the 30 hotels that are keen to buy from WAMBOMA. This results in disappointment all round as the project is unable to expand.
Thankfully, because the women have new entrepreneurship skills, they can support their families through additional income from their tiny businesses. They are being seriously pragmatic and have invested their savings in schemes that will support them if their crops fail. Chicken rearing and goat herding are both popular as is buying a small amount of second hand clothing and selling it on. But they are farmers, they are proud of their new skills and very much want their new coop to succeed.
Good news! There are solutions that will mitigate these impacts, and they can happen with your help.
A commercial sized greenhouse in each village would protect the crops from the flash floods and drought.
Drip irrigation would enable appropriate water distribution to the crops and would be invaluable. Irrigation, tanks and pumps are necessary for each village, and the villages also each need a well.
After losing crops to heavy rains, the women also need new seed – particularly organic seed. WAMBOMA wants all the produce to be organic. Our intention is to shift away from the hybrid seed and artificial fertilizer that the women have been trained to use. Organic produce will give the hotels a strong marketing advantage.
Roads leading to Namwai can be difficult to access due to deep mud, and until now we have been borrowing a four-wheel drive to transport the produce when it’s been raining. A second hand delivery vehicle would ensure that deliveries can happen regularly and on time, whatever the weather conditions.
These key items come on top of running costs such as payment of the committed and passionate local staff team, KWIECO, and rent of both the shop and the demonstration plots for each village, which are of course vital in continuing the success of the project. To ensure that the cooperative can operate and keep records effectively, we must also replace the second hand laptop they have been so dependent on, which is on its last legs.
Incredibly, a donor, who wishes to remain anonymous has agreed to double every pound donated to this campaign. This means that any contribution you are able to make will go twice as far. Any funds raised over our target will allow new women to be trained and join this project.
We believe that with your support, we can make the vital changes that will allow this life-changing project to continue going from strength to strength.
£5 - Thank you! Your faith in our project and in the hard work and skills of the women involved is greatly appreciated.
£10 - You win you a place in our hearts and our land at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro and on its western slopes (unlimited hearts to be won).
£25 - A huge thank you! Your gift will buy the equipment the new women who have joined the project need to ensure their newly grown produce will have the quality and consistency required by the hotels.
£50 - You will supply much-needed new, quality organic seeds for each farmer to re-sow and continue earning for their families’ future (unlimited seeds to be sown).
£75 - This contributes towards a new laptop. You will enable Stuart and Rahma to work efficiently in the knowledge that when the electricity fails again, the computer will have sufficient battery to continue working regardless.
£100 – Thank you! By investing in our drip irrigation, tanks and pumps for each village, you will enable the women to water their crops in the dry season.
£400 - Industrialised sized greenhouses cost over £4,000 each, but this donation will be an important contribution towards the cost. The greenhouses will protect the crops from flash floods and drought.
£500 - Your generosity will contribute to the purchase of a second hand four- wheel drive delivery truck. This fantastic contribution will allow the cooperative to guarantee delivery of its produce year round.
£8,000 - Thank you so much. Your gift will enable our local partner, KWIECO, to run the whole project, for all 120 women, for the next six months. This will make a huge difference to the lives of the women, their families and the community as a whole.
KWIECO, is our local women’s empowerment partner. Stuart, their business development manager, has been responsible for the management of the project up until now. He is now taking on the role of business development with the hotels and Rahma, who has a master’s degree in coop management, is the WAMBOMA coop manager. For more than a year she has been working voluntarily to support the coop, but now has given up her work presenting a radio programme to work, paid, on the project. She is ensuring the women are well supported both in their farming and with their saving and doing all the deliveries. She will train the women in organic farming.