©2011 coffee & climate

How to actively engage local communities in climate projects?

Tanzania, June 26th, 2015- Mbeya Rural in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania started as a c&c pilot region in 2012. In May 2014 the members of the community proposed a water project to confront the growing scarcity of water. What started as a project to build a polythene pipe to connect the village to a water intake in the mountains, turned into a community-wide engagement: Involving local authorities as well as establishing a Village Water Committee has built an extensive ownership within the community.

We see this is an excellent continuation of c&c where our beneficiaries demonstrate commitment, competency, empowerment and, ultimately, the sustainability of the initiative.  

Community water project

Coffee production is the major income for smallholder farmers in Mbeya Rural, one of the districts in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania, where Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS) is operating since 2006, targeting 15,000 beneficiaries. HRNS supports coffee farming households to improve their livelihoods by increasing their production and enhancing their market access via business-minded multi-tier farmer groups. In Mbeya Rural farming households have been strongly affected by changing climatic conditions. Therefore, the global initiative for coffee & climate was piloted in 2012 in this district. Within its scope more than 1,300 HRNS beneficiaries have been sensitised on the impact of climate change on coffee production and trained how to develop and implement coping strategies and adapt their farming systems to the changing conditions.

The members of Idugumbi Producer Organization (PO) which is supported by HRNS have faced the challenge of declining coffee yields due to the growing scarcity of water, which does not only affect their farming and the coffee processing, but also their everyday life. The only available water source in their area was not sufficient to accommodate the water demand, especially in the harvest season. To address these challenges, the members of the community, represented by the village leaders and the leaders of Idugumbi PO, came up with a proposal to connect a natural water intake in the mountains with their villages. They approached HRNS for technical and financial support. The project was kicked-off after a feasibility study, carried out by the District Water Engineer, confirmed that the conditions are suitable and a permission was granted by the Lake Rukwa Basin Water Board. It was implemented as a strategic partnership with the district authorities and the local community under the supervision of the c&c Local Expert Committee. All partners signed a Memorandum of Understanding, stating their roles, responsibilities and contributions.

On behalf of the initiative for coffee & climate HRNS provided 3.6 km of 3” polythene pipe to connect the community to the water source. The implementation was coordinated and carried out by the community members. In addition, a local company could be won to cover the costs for an additional pipe.

Throughout the project the members of Idugumbi community showed exceptional engagement and developed a strong sense of ownership. They established a Village Water Committee to coordinate and oversee the activities. Besides contributing in-kind the community members covered 25% of the overall project costs. As a result, 8 water taps were installed in the village and the local Primary School gained access to running water. The Village Water Committee is responsible for maintaining the installation and for supervising the water usage.

In addition to the water pipes, the coffee & climate initiative distributed 800 indigenous tree seedlings that were planted around the water source to reduce soil erosion and water loss as well as to encourage better environmental management in the community. The Idugumbi community took the initiative further by formulating an agreement to facilitate proper conservation and management of forestry resources. As a means of enforcement the village authorities have put in place a Security Committee responsible for safeguarding the natural resources.

The project has a direct impact on the livelihood of 300 coffee farming households though increased coffee production due to coffee irrigation during the flowering months, improved coffee processing, income diversification by engaging in gardening activities, as well as reliable access to water for domestic use.

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