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:
- 1,973 farmers (1,119 women and 854 men) have been mobilized and trained on conservation agriculture techniques. All of these farmers have been trained practically and theoretically on CA principles, benefits and up-scaling.
- 109 savings groups have been mobilized, with 2,360 members (1675 females, 685 males).
- Women comprise 71% of members. Their participation in community activities has increased, most have become micro-entrepreneurs, they are better able to take care of their children, and their dependency has been reduced.