The Dodoma region of central Tanzania has highly degraded dry landscape, with erratic and unevenly distributed rainfall. Food insecurity and poverty is high with households surviving on less than a dollar a day, communities depend on subsistence farming for their livelihoods. Famine, drought and destructive birds have devastated farms. With traditional farming methods, food crop yields in the area were low. Almost half the households live on one meal a day and lived through 6 months of food shortages annually. Tearfund Canada works with the Anglican Diocese of Central Tanzania to introduce conservation agriculture techniques in villages, starting with demonstration farms and small backyard plots. With the new conservation agriculture techniques, Dodoma has saw 7 times the crop yields per acre compared to traditional farming in the last year, thanks to on-farm water harvesting, moisture conservation, soil conservation, soil fertility improvement, and soil cover.
Social life in Dodoma is deeply rooted in a culture which does not empower the community to save for future use or investment and facilities for borrowing are almost non-existent in the area. Tearfund has introduced the Village Savings and Loans methods which teaches community members to use their own resources to exit poverty. The groups provide accountability for savings and access to loans to meet various social and economic needs such as paying for school fees for children, medical expenses, purchase of food when crops fail, purchase of seeds and farm tools, and small businesses loans that make members less vulnerable to crop failure. Savings groups are complimentary to the agricultural programs and act as a buffer in tough times. The Savings groups also provide social funds which assists members when in such events and difficulties as sickness, death, ceremonies or any other specific disasters.
In the last year:
- 1,111 farmers, 467 men and 644 women have been mobilized and trained on conservation agriculture techniques. 817 of these farmers received additional training on enhancing soil fertility and soil water management for conservation agriculture.
- 605 of those trained in previous years continued to receive mentoring.
- 109 farmers were trained on grain storage, drying, treatment and household storage.
- 1,151, with people joined a village savings and loans group benefitting a total of 6331 family members.