Posted on May 25, 2018
Comments Off on Securing Livelihood for the Widows and Orphans in Kagera
… Transforming lives through income generation projects
ACT’s work in Tanzania began in 2003 in Tanga, the coastal capital of Tanga region in the North West, bordering with Kenya. We began by supporting a number of orphans and the children of poor widows, educating them by paying their school fees and providing them with scholastic materials, health and welfare support. Our work of educating children and supporting widows expanded to Moshi, Kilimanjaro region in 2005 and in 2013 to Kagera region in the North East, bordering with Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Lake Victoria.
Kagera is rural and has a beautiful landscape, but it is one of the poor regions of Tanzania and was devastated by the AIDS/HIV pandemic. It has one the highest number of AIDS orphans in Tanzania. The economy is based on agriculture, with very few job opportunities, hence high unemployment. Most people depend on the land for food.
In addition to educating the children, we have focused our welfare support towards health and income generation for the families we support. These were the two top priorities, among others, that our partner, Justice & Peace, identified as causing the greatest psychological stress for the widows and orphans and their families. They told us that tackling these were likely to produce the best result and making education of the children productive.
The Tanzania government Community Health Fund (CHF) scheme provides health care cover for a family to receive medical attention from qualified medical staff and also prescription medicines covered within the scheme. But CHF is not free and families are expected to pay into the scheme. Even though the cost is low, it is not affordable for the many poor people, widows and orphans, in Kagera region. The number of family members covered varies across regions and even within districts in a region. For example in Kagera’s Biharamulo district up to 8 member of one family are covered, while the scheme in Chato district covers up to 10 family member. All families supported by ACT are covered under CHF.
The ACT income generation activity (IGA) provides households eligible for support with one female and one male goat or pig. The animals can be bred and/or used to produce milk (from goats) for sale so that families can start to generate a sustainable income. The third offspring is donated to another family in need of support within the community, thereby encouraging a helpful and supportive domino effect.
We wanted to assess the impact of the two projects so we asked some of those who have benefitted from the CHF how life has changed for them since support began.
Anastazia Daudi from Ruziba village lost her father to TB when she was nine years old. The years following his death were extremely hard on Anastazia and her mother, who worked as a farm labourer and could barely survive on what she earned. As a result both mother and daughter were often ill and then they found out that Anastazia had sickle cell anaemia. Her mother was ready to give up. The family came to the attention of ACT and were supported in 2013. They were registered for CHF insurance and immediately accessed medical treatment and received prescription medicines. Also they opted to receive a goat through the IGA project. The female goat has yielded 6 kids and produces milk which they sell to generate income. Anastazia and her mother have food to eat. They are comfortable and in better health than before and she is doing well at school.
Gerald Xavery lives in the village of Rukora. His father died from TB when Gerald was just five years old. His mother, Kampata, was unable to afford a house to shelter herself and her three children. In 2013 ACT began supporting the family, and gave Gerald school materials, CHF insurance and a pig, which has yielded a large number of piglets, some of which have been sold. With the money that was generated his mother has rented a piece of land on which they grow maize and rice. The family then bought building materials and have built a house that they now live in.
The CHF and IGA scheme have had a significant impact on poor families and empowered widows who are struggling to find work that pays enough to feed their children and cover the costs of living. The benefits are psychological as well as practical. Families are less fearful of falling sick, knowing that they have access to healthcare. For widows or guardians, financial burdens have been lifted and they are, as our partner Justice and Peace have informed us, much happier and hopeful for the future.
The effects of the IGA and CHF are made possible by the generous donations of our supporters. You can help us to continue our work in Tanzania and elsewhere by donating here!