How Financial services providers responded to Covid-19 in Kenya

By Marian Joseph – Art in Tanzania internship

The Covid-19 pandemic has carried the world into unchartered territory that has been straining to every sector of the economy. The financial industry not being the exception has been facing several challenges in managing effective ways to serve their customers in such times. In this post we look closely at how Kenya’s financial sector as a country responded to the Covid-19 pandemic.  A report by Bowmans (2020) kept track of how the government responded to the gradual outbreak of Covid-19. 

The following were the responses taken by the different branches of government, regulators, and governmental agencies

1. Loan Availability. 

 On 18 March 2020, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) announced emergency measures arrived through consensus with commercial banks, applicable to borrowers whose loan repayments were up to date as at 2 March 2020.

Cropped shot of a businesswoman using a calculator at her desk in a modern office

 · Banks to provide relief to borrowers on their personal loans based on their individual circumstances arising from the pandemic.

 · To provide relief on personal loans, banks will review requests from borrowers for extension of their loan for a period of up to one year and borrowers should contact their respective banks. 

· Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and corporate borrowers to contact their banks for assessment and restructuring of their loans based on their respective circumstances arising from the pandemic. 

· Banks to meet all the costs related to the extension and restructuring of loans. 

· To facilitate increased use of mobile digital platforms, banks to waive all charges for balance inquiry. In addition, the CBK had earlier announced that all charges for transfers between mobile money wallets and bank accounts would be eliminated.  (Bowmans, 2020)

2. Credit Availability 

On 24 March 2020, the Central Bank of Kenya announced additional measures to facilitate lending by banks to borrowers adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

· The lowering of the Central Bank Rate (CBR) to 7.25 percent. 

· The lowering of the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) to 4.25 percent to provide additional liquidity of KES 35.2 billion to commercial banks. CBK to avail this liquidity to banks based on their demonstrated requirement to directly support borrowers that are distressed as a result of COVID19. 

· To provide flexibility on liquidity management facilities provided to banks by CBK, the maximum tenor of Repurchase Agreements (REPOs) was extended from 28 to 91 days. 

Dad and daughter saving money to piggy bank

· CBK to provide flexibility to banks with regard to requirements for loan classification and provisioning for loans that were performing on 2 March 2020 and whose repayment period was extended or were restructured due to the pandemic. (Bowmans, 2020)

3. Individual and Business Relief Package 

On 25 March 2020, the President announced individual and business relief measures to be undertaken by the government: 

· Reduction of Personal Income Tax top rate (PAYE) from 30% to 25% of the gross amount.

 · 100 % Tax Relief for persons earning up to KES 24,000 per month.

 · Reduction of the Resident Corporate Income Tax rate from 30% to 25% of profits.

· Reduction of the Turnover Tax rate for SMEs from 3% to 1% of the gross revenue. 

· Immediate reduction of VAT rate from 16% to 14%. 

· Temporary Suspension of all listing for all persons including companies, whose loan account fall overdue or is in arrears, by the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB) – effective 1 April 2020. 

· Ministries and Departments to cause the payment of at least KES 13 billion of the verified pending Bills, within three weeks from the announcement.

 · Appropriation of KES 1 billion from the Universal Health Coverage towards the recruitment of additional health workers to support the management of the spread of the COVID-19. 

· KRA to expedite payment of VAT Refunds by allocating an additional KES 10 billion within 3 weeks or in the alternative, to allow for offsetting of withholding VAT. 

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· Appropriation of KES 10 billion to the elderly, orphans, and other vulnerable members of our society through cash-transfers by the Ministry of Labour and Social protection, to cushion them from the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

· Government to set up a fund to which players in the Public and Private Sector will contribute in support of Government efforts. (Bowmans 2020)

REFERENCES 

Bowmans the value of Knowing (November 2020). COVID-19: TRACKING GOVERNMENT RESPONSE IN KENYA

Impact of domestic tourism as a strategy to the recovery of tourism activities from COVID-19

Written by Daniel Christopher Mkilanya – Art in Tanzania internship

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic there isn’t one industry unaffected, and tourism is no exception. From canceled weddings and festivals to less dining out, the world has taken a hit from the large decline in tourism. The U.S. alone has seen more than $297 billion in losses from the decrease in travel since the beginning of March 2020.

However, as the summer months push on and people look for any excuse to leave their houses, tourism is making a comeback – for better or worse. The tourism industry is undoubtedly changing, but people still want to travel. And tourism research is seeing that wanderlust desire. We need to remain mindful of the millions of people who work in the tourism industry and understand that changes in the industry directly affect individuals who depend on tourism.” For us to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism industry first we have to know what the coronavirus is and how is it spreads from one person to another

Flu coronavirus pandemic virus infection, travel and health concept. Medical stethoscope and travel documents on wood background. 3d illustration

1. What is a corona virus?

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered type of coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illnesses. The best way to prevent andslow down transmission is to be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes,and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol-based rub frequently and not touching your face.

The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).

2. How coronavirus has affected the tourism industry

Failure of tourism business

It is often that tourism companies suffer in times of hardship, The independent travel agent in Arusha, the street seller in Zanzibar, the taxi driver in our airports. If there are no tourists, there is no business.

I have met many local workers on my travels during the Coronavirus outbreak. The effect of Coronavirus on tourism is most certainly evident in Tanzania. Many tourists have paid half the usual price for hotels and also many tourist attractions are without the crowds.

Whilst this has been good for tourists, it has been desperation for the local business people; the man who wants to sell ice cream, the lady who offers a ride home and the family-run restaurant business. Coronavirus has gone far by affecting large tourism business as a well. We have recently seen collapse of airline companies as a result of the reduction in tourism.

Restriction in traveling

Due to the increase in the number of victims, different countries have decided to impose traveling restriction as one of the ways of preventing further spread off coronavirus but also the general public is scared that they may transmit the virus to their elderly or immune- compromised friends and relatives.

As a result, many people are choosing not to travel. It’s a effective way to prevent further spread of coronavirus but for the traveling business it’s a great loss.

2. How the Domestic tourism will recover?

UN World Tourism Organization UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “UNWTO expects domestic tourism to return faster and stronger than international travel. Given the size of domestic tourism, this will help many destinations recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic, while at the same time safeguarding jobs, protecting livelihoods and allowing the social benefits tourism offers to also return.”

The briefing note also shows that, in most destinations, domestic tourism generates higher revenues than international tourism. In OECD nations, domestic tourism accounts for 75%of total tourism expenditure, while in the European Union, domestic tourism expenditure is 1.8 times higher than inbound tourism expenditure. Globally, the largest domestic tourism markets in terms of expenditure is the United States with nearly US$ 1 trillion, Germany with US$ 249 billion, Japan US$ 201 billion, the United Kingdom with US$ 154 billion, and Mexico with US$ 139 billion (UNWTO, 2020).

Initiatives to boost domestic tourism

Given the value of domestic tourism and current trends, increasing numbers of countries are taking steps to grow their markets, UNWTO reports. This new Briefing Note provides case studies of initiatives designed to stimulate domestic demand. These include initiativesfocused on marketing and promotion as well as financial incentives (UNWTO, 2020).Examples of countries taking targeted steps to boost domestic tourist numbers include:

In Italy, the Bonus Vacanze initiative offers families with incomes of up to EUR 40,000 contributions of up to EUR 500 to spend on domestic tourism accommodation.

Malaysia allocated US$113 million worth of travel discount vouchers as well as personal tax relief of up to US$227 for expenditure related to domestic tourism.

Costa Rica moved all holidays of 2020 and 2021 to Mondays for Costa Ricans to enjoy longweekends to travel domestically and to extend their stays.

France launched the campaign #CetÉtéJeVisiteLaFrance (‘This Summer, I visit France’) highlighting the diversity of destinations across the country.

Argentina announced the creation of an Observatory for Domestic Tourism to provide a betterprofile of Argentine tourists.

Thailand will subsidise 5 million nights of hotel accommodation at 40% of normal room rates for up to five nights.

Bioinformatics in Africa

By Goodness Njakoi – Art in Tanzania Internship

African countries have long been disproportionately burdened by the “big three” infectious diseases (HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria) and neglected emerging infectious diseases such as EVD and Lassa fever. African populations maintain the world’s highest levels of genetic diversity which decline proportionately with increasing distance from Africa.

The development of bioinformatics as a discipline has provided biological scientists with many important insights into the functioning and composition of biological systems. Together with tools and methods developed within bioinformatics, these insights provide essential foundation.

The establishment of the South African National Bioinformatics Institute in South Africa in the 1990s heralded the development of bioinformatics on the continent. The introduction of bioinformatics to the rest of the African continent was slowed down by several challenges that included limited scope of research encompassing bioinformatics-driven goals, shortage of qualified bioinformaticians, poor access to powerful computer systems, lack of high speed internet, poor access to essential databases and software programs, and unreliable power supply.

Recent funding investments toward large-scale research projects, training, and infrastructure support are helping address the bioinformatics disparities between countries within the continent through establishment of world-class resources and training. The establishment of the African Society for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (ASBCB) during a World Health Organization Tropical Disease Research workshop in February 2004 led to a sustainable network of researchers across the continent.

A noteworthy initiative with its foundation is the Human Heredity and Health in Africa Bioinformatics Network H3ABioNet network, whose mandate is to provide bioinformatics support for the Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa) initiative and to develop bioinformatics ability across Africa through funding provided by the National Institutes of Health. H3ABioNet has focused on building infrastructure and implementing tools that enable collaborations and data transfer across the resource-limited continent.

A major focus area of H3ABioNet has been to develop sustainable approaches to develop bioinformatics ability in Africa. Taking into consideration the challenges facing the continent, H3ABioNet has explored various training approaches, including long and short face-to-face training workshops, internships, and data-centered hackathons. Furthermore, H3ABioNet has developed a multiple-delivery-mode learning model comprising elements of distance learning, open educational resources (OER), and face-to-face learning for an Introduction to Bioinformatics IBT course in order to meet the need for bioinformatics training of molecular biologists- as well as individuals from other backgrounds interested in developing skills in bioinformatics- in Africa and to address the specific challenges for this setting.

State of Bioinformatics in Tanzania

Biotechnology industry in Tanzania is still very poor and hardly any bioinformatics is vividly talked about. There are several biotechnologies research works around the country, but no serious investments have been made for bioinformatics. Research groups most likely to apply bioinformatics are the Tanzania Genome Network member groups, the Genome Science Centre at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), IFAKARA Health Institute, Tanzania Society of Human Genetics and the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Dar es salaam.

While the government through the National Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) understands the potential of R&D in biotechnology to the nation’s economic growth, there is a dare need for awareness campaign on the significance of bioinformatics in biotechnology. It is the role of universities and other higher learning institutions to design programs which also involves Bioinformatics in their curricula. State universities like the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) and Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) have introduced courses like Introduction to Bioinformatics, Genomics and Bioinformatics, Genomics, Proteomics and Bioinformatics etc. into their curricula.

Teaching bioinformatics is made difficult by the constraints of typical university classrooms. Some areas of basic bioinformatics may be taught using such classrooms, where all that is needed is an internet connection and web browser searches at the NCBI. More in-depth teaching requires the re-creation of a bioinformatics research environment, consisting of a Linux or UNIX operating system, standard GNU utilities, specialist bioinformatics software, and sequence databases. In most cases the available computer laboratories hold few functional computers to train a class, so classes huddle around few working computers. Moreover, the nations’ energy supply would often be cut off, making teaching bioinformatics on a computer rather difficult. But also, there is a serious shortage of skilled personnel to teach bioinformatics in the country. However, even if the power supply is intermittent and the Internet connections run at dial-up speed, it is still possible to conduct bioinformatics activities. Determined bioinformaticians can start a study with just a computer and open-source software downloaded through the Internet. Alternatively, buying an US$3000 wealthy eBioKit system will make a big difference. Meanwhile, awareness campaigns should be constantly stages to appeal to the government and private sector to invest in bioinformatics.

In 2011, three TGN member institutions (MDH, MUHAS and UDSM) joined Human Heredity and Health in Africa Bioinformatics Network (H3ABioNet). The involvement with H3ABioNet is revolutionizing bioinformatics in Tanzania through knowledge transfer and infrastructure improvements. Through H3ABioNet, researchers and technical staff from MDH, MUHAS and UDSM have been attending specialized training courses with the aim that they will teach others at their home institutions.

Future Perspectives

Bioinformatics and data science research thrives on genetically diverse populations as population substructure variation contributes to the identification of true associations in complex disorders and drug response. Research on these topics within Africa supply considerable opportunities for improving health outcomes through their application in infectious disease research vaccine and drug development, and drug resistance patterns.

The completion of the Human Genome Project and technological advances have led to significant cost reductions for genomic data acquisition and also supply immense opportunities for novel insights into etiology, diagnosis and therapy

Although these large volumes of information are valuable resources for the scientific community, the extremely rapid growth in database size also brings difficulties in analyzing and deriving inferences from such data. Computational research has become essential in the post genomic era to help organize and store bioinformatics data, ensuring their retrieval and allowing further processing and analysis. This contributes towards improved understanding of the regulation and functioning of biological processes.

Any country intending to remain up to date in the biomedical, biotechnological and agricultural sectors, cannot disregard bioinformatics. In addition to this general trend, developing countries may also want to manage their own specific data on indigenous biological species, on local epidemiology and biodiversity programs. These tasks clearly require that statisticians and informatics experts become advanced users of bioinformatics software and develop a capability to solve problems locally. This process does not require large resources in it but will allow developing countries to further investigate their own biological resources. To ease this process biomathematics/bio-computing should be introduced to universities, and the establishment of small software groups and companies should be encouraged.

Conclusion

To fully benefit from advances in bioinformatics and data science research, it is imperative to train the next generation of African scientists on their use. It is important to note that the shortage of trained bioinformaticians is among the main obstacles in the development of bioinformatics in Africa. These demands call for building local university programs and infrastructure for setting up environments that are conducive for bioinformatics and data science training. Bioinformatics is known to require less infrastructural investments than other bench science initiatives, but essential resources are necessary such as powerful computer systems, reliable high-speed internet, access to databases and software programs, and reliable electricity. Research infrastructure, research funding, training programs, scientific networking, and collaborations are also important as key elements for developing bioinformatics ability. Other factors affecting the implementation of training programs include teaching laboratories, server systems, airfare cost, timeliness of visas, suitable computational infrastructure, socio-political stability, and availability of open training spots. This ability may be gained through research and training on overlapping computationally intensive topics such as data management and data capture.

It is also of central importance to publish literature on scientific training programs to check and evaluate progress, develop standards, and share training approaches and experiences.

References

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Solar Panels – the future of electricity in Tanzania

Electricity has been named by many Tanzanians as the biggest inhibitor for success.

Tanzania has the largest population in East Africa, estimated at 52,482,726, with a very high annual population growth rate of 2.77%. 31.6% of the population lives in an urban area, leaving an estimated 35,897,237 people residing in rural areas. Access to improved drinking water sources is available to 55.6% of the total population, with just about 3/4 of these people living in urban areas. 46.8% of Tanzanians have unimproved drinking water sources, the majority of which reshopside in rural areas. With regards to improved sanitation facilities, 15.6% of the population utilizes them, leaving 84.4% of Tanzanians with access to solely unimproved sanitation facilities.

Access to safe drinking water and the use of improved sanitation facilities are used as measurements for the development and overall well being of a country. Improved drinking water sources include piped household water collection, as well as access to protected dug wells, springs, and rainwater collection. Unimproved drinking water sources are unprotected dug wells and springs, along with bottled water and tankered truck water.

598351_10151100231971930_978032409_n-300x199Compared to the world average of 89% of the total population having access to improved drinking water, Tanzania has fallen majorly behind. While taking into account the use of improved sanitation facilities as a means for measuring development, Tanzania also lacks due to the fact that the majority of the population is not able to ensure hygienic separation of human excretion from human contact. Finally, just over 75% of Tanzanians live without electricity, and rely on toxic kerosene or diesel generators for lighting.

Current National Grid and Electricity Access

The current national power grid in Tanzania is summarized as inefficient because of its inability to provide power to the majority of the population. Powered by fossil fuels and hydroelectric, the lines exist in the northern and eastern part of the country and sparsely in the south, but are nonexistent in the more rural west. Increased access to the national grid is at the extremely slow growth rate of 1% per year. Furthermore, in many cases people whose homes are connected to the national grid still do not receive electricity. With the expansion of the national grid, many site unreliable energy supplies and poor quality of supply as great problems. Furthermore, it is expensive to extend the national grid and distribution systems due to a lack of government funding.

charcoalOver three quarters of the population live without access to electricity, and many Tanzanians rely on charcoal for cooking and firewood collection. Currently, one of the largest threats to deforestation in Tanzania is the collection of firewood for fuel. In addition to this, the dirty smoke emitted from charcoal fires leads to many chest and lung problems. Electricity has been named by many Tanzanians as the biggest inhibitor for  success. This takes into account the fact that shopkeepers have to close their doors early due to a lack of light, schools can not operate outside of daylight hours, and many medical facilities have to send patients to farther locations for certain tests and operations.

A Solution for Developmentsolarpanel

Off-grid solar panels are small and durable. They are able to manage enough power to charge cell phones, lights, and other basic necessities. The main advantage to off-grid solar panels is their flexibility, both geographically and economically. Off- grid solar panels can also be implemented into improved drinking water consumption through solar water purifiers and well systems with solar powered pumps. Solar panel cookers will also help reduce the use of nonrenewable fuel sources, therefore greatly improving Tanzanians standard of living.

The environmental advantages of implementing solar panels are enumerable. Tanzania  has the unique opportunity to rapidly reduce the amount of nonrenewable energy sources, by going directly to a solar powered future. With their rapidly growing population a new market of energy consumption will emerge that could be completely fulfilled through solar panels, as opposed to largely contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. Solar is dropping in price and beginning to compete with nonrenewable forms of energy. The World Bank energy data states that it costs 20 cents per kilowatt hour for solar, compared to 25 cents for fuel.

Implementation

img_3075Utilizing smaller off-grid solar panels fits the budgets of rural Tanzanians. People can put the money that would have originally been spent on fuel to finance their solar systems. Microfinance organisations are now  lending to allow householders to buy solar panels. The total installation
of the average off-grid solar panel can cost up to $1,000. However, locals are able to pay smaller installments through their mobile phones in order to eventually cover the entire cost. Payments such as these average around 20c a day, or can be made into larger monthly installments.

Establishing off-grid solar panel networks also offers a plethora of employment opportunities to locals. Over the next decade it is predicted that the renewable energy sector will become one of the largest employers in Africa. The leading seller of off-grid solar panels is creating on average 40 new jobs per month. Companies such as Solar Sister are offering more opportunities to women, and developing communities through leveling gender inequality. Furthermore, off-grid systems often utilize existing means of transportation to get their product to rural areas. The local jobs created through installation and equipment distribution are greatly adding to the development of Tanzania.

Challengessolarpack

As with any new program challenges will arise. The main concern for new solar panel companies is being able to secure their loan payments from customers. This can be achieved through mobile payments, which allow financiers to receive small regular pay installments. After paying the installation fee, customers are able to continue to pay for the rest of the total over time. This ensures that lenders will not lose money, because they are able to remotely lock and unlock the solar panel systems, based on the customer’s repayments. Offering the option to lease the solar panels further enhances the customer’s willingness to pay the smaller fees, while allowing lenders to have collateral. With nearly every Tanzanian having access to a cell phone, mobile payments for solar panels is an effective solution.

Sustainable operation of the solar panels is another issue that must be addressed initially. In order to have a sustainable operation it is important to establish infrastructure within the locations that the solar panels will be used. In order to cut costs, it is viable to use already
existing modes of transportation to deliver the product. Various solar panel companies have installed trackers in their products, ensuring that the panels reach their destination while traveling through third party delivery systems such as trains, city buses, and local delivery people.

Maintenance must be upheld through the education of local employees. While training local people on the installation and upkeep of the solar panels, awareness of the product would also expand. This would in turn create more jobs and boost local Tanzanian economies. Overall, when the solar panel companies work with local citizens they not only save money, but help the development of the country.

There are many new innovations with regards to anti theft lock devices for solar panels. These lock devices can be bought separately, or included in the initial solar panel purchase, and often consist of bolts or locks to secure each individual solar panel. Through the expansion of more secure solar panels, the reduction in stolen products will be significant, and the security of investments greatly improved.

small-solarThe final problem is managing parts of the solar panels after they are no longer functional. The biggest issue is recycling old GEL-type, lead type, and smaller lithium type batteries. Dar es Salaam City alone produces around 3,000 tons of waste per day. With this in mind, recycling old products is important to the environmental sustainability of installing solar panels.

The Recycler, Tanzania’s main source of recycling, is able to collect and store electronic waste. Getting a local organisation such as this would be a convenient option. In addition to this, there are a few international organisations that do work on recycling unusable products of solar panels. Companies such as PV Cycle are operating on a non-profit business model worldwide. They often establish global markets, and may prove to be useful in recycling solar panel batteries in Tanzania.

Furthermore, the implementation of solar panels and their usage of batteries could open a new market in Tanzania, one focused on the recycling of solar panel products. This market could be very profitable, as well as extremely environmentally conscious, because around 90% of the material recovered from solar panels and their batteries can be recycled into useful products.

Current Funding

Most solar panel organisations have received funding from a variety of sources. The Rural Energy Agency of Tanzania, operating under the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, works to promote access to modern energy in rural locations throughout the country. They provide resources for grants, technical assistance, and financial assistance in the form of investments for different renewable energy projects. This agency spends approximately $400million a year on supporting various clean energy sources.

International donors also help offset the cost of development and installation of solar panels throughout Tanzania. Organisations such as the World Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, USAID Development Innovation Ventures Program, and The International Finance Corporation have made major investments in this growing industry. The IFC has so far provided $7 million in order to reach over 100,000 households in Tanzania. Private international investors all around the world are beginning to see the profits in investing in solar panel technology. In 2014 more than $45 million was invested by private investment companies in the off-grid solar sector, and that number has continued to grow.

As a result of the numerous ways in which solar panels will help with the development of Tanzania, and in line with the ever growing globalization of our world, it is clear that investing and supporting off-grid solar panels is a profitable and worthy venture.

Text: Stephanie Gray
Environmental Sustainability Intern, Art in Tanzania

Photos: Marjut Valtanen

Sources:

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/tz.html

https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/global/assessing.html

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/tz.html

http://blogs.worldbank.org/africacan/only-14-of-tanzanians-have-electricity-what-can-be-done

Click to access Brief-Digitally-Financed-Energy-Mar-2016.pdf

http://www.pvcycle.org/services/global/

http://phys.org/news/2014-08-recycling-batteries-solar-cells.html

http://rea.go.tz/Projects/TheRuralEnergyFund/tabid/150/Default.aspx

http://fortune.com/2015/12/22/off-grid-solar-africa-booming/

Al – Quwiyyi Islamic School

A private Islamic school in the village of Fuoni, named after the founder’s, Mr Hakeem Abdullah, families tribe name in Mafia, pronounced Al Qu-wee.

The school was opened on Monday 13th January 2014 after four months of preparations. The school has 24 classes, providing nursery to secondary education to approximately 600 local students.

Art in Tanzania has been working with Al – Quwiyyi since 2015 sending volunteers to teach the children Maths, English and Science or to simply assist teachers in a range of subjects and look after the children in the classroom.

School days are Monday to Friday 07:00 to 13:00 – lunch is at 13:00. From 14:00 to 22:30 the school operates Madrassa classes for approximately 250 students. Any volunteers, who can deliver or assist in teaching Arabic, Quran, Tajweed and Fiqh will be most welcomed. The school would ideally like volunteers to stay longer than two weeks to teach, to enable the volunteers to build a great rapport with the children and staff.

If volunteers are here for a short stay or did not want to teach, they can choose to assist with cooking lunch or assist in the school’s stationary and snack shop

The founder of the school, Mr Abdullah, has an ambitious plan to build a boarding school with a Masjid, female and male hostel plus accommodation for workers in the near future, he is currently liaising with officials for a suitable plot of land. Support with this project would be welcomed from international organisations to help make his vision a reality. You can contact the school directly at alquwiyyi@hotmail.com.

If you would like to volunteer at the nursery or donate; your time, skills, money, toys, stationary or school equipment, do contact Edward Busungu at Art in Tanzania and get involved, this is a fantastic school with friendly students with great ambitions and dreams you can be a part of.

Please note that this is an Islamic school so if you do wish to volunteer be mindful of the way you dress, wearing modest clothing, by way of covering your arms, legs and your hair, would be appreciated by all the staff.

Helping the kids in Yusuf School

YusufFounded by Yusuf Kombo Juma, a father of six children, who witnessed the problems and challenges of education and set out on a mission to tackle the issue, he sold his own land and properties and got creative in raising money in order to fund his vision.

Yusuf started his school with just one nursery class with 30 local children in 2010, this then grew each year and now the school has two nursery classes and five secondary classes with 95 local children attending the school for 8000 TZS per month, the eldest students are aged 13. The school runs from 07:30 to 12:00/ 12:45 for the older students. There are seven local teachers. Yusuf is hoping to build another classroom for those older than this, but will need funds to build it.

donatedArt in Tanzania has been working with this school since 2011; they helped expand the school from one class room to what it is now, through Art in Tanzania two volunteers have helped out for three months, helping the students and the teachers also, a volunteer from the UK taught the teachers ways of teaching for two weeks which the teachers found very helpful. Yusuf said that good education brings in more students so volunteers are very much welcomed to help support in whichever way they can.

girl school-SebastienBeunChildren of all faiths attend the school and learn, Maths, English, Science, Swahili, Arabic and some learn about Islam. There will be opportunities to teach the children different languages, such as French and German if volunteers wished to do so. If you don’t want to teach you can simply provide help and support for the children and teachers, you could even set up clubs or different activities for the children, there is something for everyone.

In order to expand the school, Yusuf wishes to buy the plot of land next to the school building to create three new classes for the school. For this he requires 4 million TZS (approximately £1450) to buy the land, and then 3 million TZS (approximately £1060) to build one classroom.

DSC04539Yusuf also has an ambition to build a centre for children near the Yusuf school on a plot of land he already owns, this would provide shelter and education for orphans in need. To build around five rooms Yusuf would require around 9 million TZS (approximately £3200) the centre would then need, beds and other furnishings to provide for the children living in the centre.

Yusuf spoke about how some of the children come to school in really bad conditions; these children need support in many ways, not just teaching.

If you would like to volunteer at this school, or to donate, stationary, teaching material, desks, chairs, clothes for the children, bags or office equipment you time or money, get in touch with Edward Busungu at Art in Tanzania for more information.

 

Spice Tour

Spice is an essential ingredient of Zanzibarian culture therefore a visit to Zanzibar is not complete without a (half day) spice tour. With the abolition of the slave trade, spices became a source of income for Zanzibar and it remains to be so, with the island being the biggest exporter of cloves.

Our guide and spice farmer, Mr Abeid, who inherited the spice farm from his late father, took us on a fragrant and delightful journey of exploration along his show farm, which is around 800 acres; he has his larger farm close by. Mr Abid was very informative and charmingly engaging as well as entertaining with the help of his assistant ”Maria”.

I love my spices and was still pleasantly surprised by how the spices were grown, how they were used and their benefits in cooking and for general health.

We started with the Annato plant; a natural orange-red colouring that comes from the seeds and is used in food, lipstick and the vermillion that Hindu’s use on their forehead (modelled by ‘Maria’).

Did you know that cloves actually grow on trees, and need to be dried for five days in the sun to be black in colour? Same with peppercorns, they grow on trees. Also interestingly the island has cacoa trees, but they import their chocolate and make coco powder for hot chocolate. However they export Zanzibar coffee to Arab countries, it’s a strong flavour.

We had Ylang Ylang flowers crushed into our hands, used many well known perfumes like Channel No 5. They have a small stall selling some of their own produce which is a must see, including Ylangi Ylangi oil.

There is one fruit, you will either love or loathe like marmite – the Durian aka the stink fruit. You might not want to be near one should it drop to the floor!

Lunch was provided, cooked by local women…this was the best food I’d tasted at the time of writing. You really need to go and experience it for yourself. We asked for a recipe (measurements all to taste!)

Pilau rice

In a pan fry a bit of cinnamon, black pepper, cumin, cardamom, then add crushed garlic and sliced onions – cook until brown.

Transfer this to a pressure cooker and add washed rice and quartered potatoes with water to cover the rice. This should take up to 30 minutes. You could leave it in the original pan and cook it on the hob or put it in a Moroccan tagine clay dish to cook in the oven.

Serve rice with Kingfish dry cooked in a mix of spices. We had side dishes of mixed vegetables cooked in coconut milk and a pinch of turmeric. Also a spicy tomato sauce cooked in coconut oil plus cassava leaves mixed with coconut milk to make a spinach dish. Delicious. We were served water and lemon grass tea to accompany our meal.

Weekend Safari trip organized by Art in Tanzania

Going on safari in Tanzania if you visit Africa is almost as compulsory required as a trip to Zanzibar. So a group of three already well settled in interns decided to go on a weekend safari provided by the organization. The preparation and arrangement of the trip was well organized. One week before we were registered by a Team leader for the journey. The payment was due to three days before we were leaving on Friday. The short briefing two day before we left hold by our actual safari guide was pretty informative and helpful in terms of what to pack or activity related questions. On Friday after the breakfast we left in our safari jeep to our first stop our accommodation for the first night. On the way to the place we passed the park entrance next to several animals and hers of impalas, monkeys, giraffes and elephants. After the first night we started early at half past seven to our game drive at the Mikumi National Park where we had the chance to spot buffaloes, zebras, hippos and a variety of many more species. In the evening we drove to the second station in the rainforest, to the Udzungwa Mountains National Park. At this park we had the chance to see numerous primates and a big amount of other plants and animals during our hike to the waterfalls as the park has also been dubbed the African Galapagos for its vast variety of endemic species. In the afternoon we went on the way back to Madale at Wazo hill. Summing up for all of us it was a quite pleasant weekend trip organized and conducted by Art in Tanzania.

 

The need to be a responsible tourist?!

Lovely sunset in Zanzibar, where tourism is blooming.

Lovely sunset in Zanzibar, where tourism is blooming in the recent decades.

Tourism is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing industry among all. The rising living standard, increased leisure time and the desire to learn about the world has increased the mobility of worldwide travellers. In 2015, the number of international travellers is reported to be 1.18 billion, which has increased by 262% compared with what we had in 1990. This number is predicted to reach 1.6 billion by 2020, which is more than the total population of Europe and the U.S. combined.

Tourism has brought significant benefits to some destinations by being the major source of income and job provider. Last year, tourism generated US$ 7.6 trillion (10% of global GDP) and 227 million jobs (1 in 11 jobs). In some small islands and developing countries, tourism is the mainstay of the local economy, where its importance to the country’s finance tend to be higher. The growth in tourism is proved to help combat poverty and relieve unemployment issues.

Tourism has brought significant benefits to some destinations by being the major source of income and job provider. Last year, tourism generated US$ 7.6 trillion (10% of global GDP) and 227 million jobs (1 in 11 jobs). In some small islands and developing countries, tourism is the mainstay of the local economy, where its importance to the country’s finance tend to be higher. The growth in tourism is proved to help combat poverty and relieve unemployment issue.

However, this tremendous growth is not happening without consequences. Tourism has been found to cause devastating impacts to the wider environment and society. To name a few, hotels are always a big consumer to water which has resulted in conflicts between local use and tourism development. Taking the case here in Tanzania, while the whole tourism and hotel industry is on the rise that tourists are enjoying all sorts of water facility; farmers in Dar es Salaam have been left with no choice but using polluted water to irrigate their crops for they have no access to clean water. (More on http://www.ippmedia.com/?l=88539). Study has shown that every household in Zanzibar uses an average of 93 litres per day whereas the average consumption of water use in a five star hotel can go up to 3195 litres per room per day. These figures prove how tourism is causing intense pressure on local water use. Sewage and wastewater discharge from hotels could also lead to fresh water contamination.

Do we realize that tourism is using too much water from the local community?

Do we realize that tourism is using too much water from the local community?

 

Tansania wildlife safari in Mikumi National Park and in Udzungwa Rainforest. Tansanian safari Mikumin luonnonpuisto ja Udzungwa sademetsän retki.

Tanzania wildlife safari in Mikumi National Park: it is important to make sure that such beautiful scenery will not be compromised by tourism.

Contributing to global warming is another great problem of tourism while air travels release significant amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The loss of forests for tourism infrastructures also aggravates the carbon emission problem. While natural beauty is one of the main attractions in tourism, the growth of tourism activities can have adverse impacts to the beautiful sceneries. For example, tourism construction causes transformation of landscape and disruption of views; also, water activities can cause pollution and disruption to marine life and biodiversity.

 

The Massai

The Massai

Socially, tourism can turn local cultures into commodities when the traditional elements are modified to satisfy the tourist expectation. The visit of Maasai tribe is one typical example in Tanzania while tourists usually expect to see the Maasai men dancing in their beautiful cloths and jewellery but have little interest to experience their real life and work. As a result of that, only the interesting things will be preserved in order to satisfy tourists and make money. The authenticity of the destination might eventually be lost. Furthermore, tourists might, out of ignorance or carelessness, fail to respect the local customs and values; in which can bring irritation to the local communities and in the worst case, cause resentment.

Luckily, having recognized the negative impacts caused by tourism development, the industry has already on the way to mitigate the negative impacts and strive for sustainable tourism. A sustainable approach to tourism means that tourism resources and attractions should be used in a way that neither the natural environment nor the society will be impaired; on the contrary, they should benefit from tourism, both economically and culturally. Some existing practices includes applying energy efficient engines on aircrafts, introducing renewable energy and grey water schemes to conserve resources, educating tourists on respecting the environment and community…and more and more.

The question is, how can we tourists, as the major consumer in the industry, can help to react to the problems? Many industrial actions would be useless if we refuse to change our behaviours accordingly. Developing sustainable tourism needs our cooperation, even the smallest deeds matter!!

So, here are some practical tips to being a responsible traveller.

  • Don’t litter, try to take the rubbish with you until you can find a bin. Help to preserve the lovely sceneries for other people.
  • Try to avoid excessive use of plastic bottles and plastic bags by bringing your own reusable water bottle and shopping bag. (Not all the countries have disposal/ recycling system for plastics).
  • Reduce energy consumption. Turn off unused lights and electrical appliances.
  • Conserve water by taking shorter showers. When you are enjoying your long shower; there are people in the same area have limited access to fresh water.
  • Always ask before taking photos of someone. Respect when they say no.
  • Respect cultural difference. You might experience thing that is out of expectation, but that’s the real culture, embrace it and enjoy it.
  • Dress respectively. Some countries are relatively conservative that shoulders and knees are expected to be covered up.
  • Don’t purchase products that are made of endangered species.
  • Buy locally and eat locally. It is the best way to enjoy the local culture, and your spending could help to feed the whole family. Purchasing locally can also help reduce the carbon emission caused by transportation.
  • Before you go, take some times to check out your holiday providers (hotel, travel agent, tour operator) – support those who support sustainable travels.

“The movement for responsible tourism is gathering pace – we can make tourism a better experience for hosts and guests”

 

 

Interview with a volunteer

Interviewing has always been something exciting for all of us. Learning about experiences one had is a fantastic feeling for the rest. This interview is with a volunteer working with Art in Tanzania, an NGO known for upbringing major social impacts in the community of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Let’s hear about Sari’s experiences and how she worked with AIT to help the community grow.

Interviewer: Hey Sari, How are you doing?Sari 3 (1)

Sari: It’s good. How are you?

Interviewer: I’m great. Let’s start. First, tell me something about yourself.

Sari: I am Sari, living in Finland now. My first time in Tanzania was two years ago. This is my fifth time with Art In Tanzania since then.

Interviewer: That’s amazing. So, you’ve been volunteering for a long time. You can tell me exactly how do you think volunteering affects the community?

Sari: I can say from my side, as I was in the Construction as well as Environmental conservation project that even if you do a small thing for a community or teach a few people how to do something, they can spread the word. Even a small help from your side can be a big thing for the natives. You can’t change the whole world but you can change a community by taking a single ‘step’.

Interviewer: That means a lot, really! Have you been volunteering before these AIT Volunteering?

Sari: Not really, this is practically the first.

Interviewer: That’s good. How did you end up at Art in Tanzania?

Sari: Yeah, we had a big festival in Finland called ‘World Festival’. I met Marjut at the Art in Tanzania stand there.  I was planning to have a sabbatical year from work & she told me about the volunteering & internship opportunities here. It sounded so good that almost the next day I was booking the tickets.

Interviewer: Awesome. So What project were you working on at AIT?

Sari: Mainly construction & some environmental projects like in Moshi, we had a Tree Plantation & Conservation project. In Zanzibar, I learnt how to make Dhow boats & in Dar es Salaam, we made the compost & I taught native people how to use it for agriculture.

Interviewer: That’s so good. How was your experience with AIT during these two years?

Sari: I was so good, that it is my fifth time here. I really love this. I keep coming back & back & back.

Interviewer: Now Sari, I want you to rate Art in Tanzania on the following points on the scale of 1-5.

Sari: Yeah, go ahead.

  1. Community Service that AIT is doing 4
  2. The closeness to the local community 4
  3. The kind of projects 4
  4. The support you get from ait while you are on your project 3
  5. Accommodation 4
  6. Food 4
  7. Overall 4

The interviewer is a volunteer working with Art in Tanzania & has no relation with AIT at all. The interview is devised and conducted by the interviewer itself, with no interference from the AIT team.Sari 2 (1)