Development in Rural Areas
The Coastal Rural Support Programme in Tanzania, or CRSP(T), is a multi-input area development programme of the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF). In collaboration with the government of Tanzania, under its MKUKUTA poverty alleviation programme, CRSP(T) takes a market development approach to support rural livelihoods and improve the quality of life through increased rural income.
The programme’s overall goal is to improve the quality of life and social well-being of target communities in Lindi and Mtwara regions through sustainable socio-economic interventions in food security, income generation, health and education. It works to build the capacity of local government staff, especially district agricultural officers and extension workers, to create sustainable systems for agricultural improvement in the regions. CRSP(T) builds upon the experiences and lessons learned from the Foundation’s programmes in Kenya and Mozambique as well as other AKDN rural support programmes in Asia and Africa.
CRSP(T) has four main objectives:
The economy of both Mtwara and Lindi regions is based on subsistence agriculture, with about 87 percent of the population engaged in rain-fed agriculture. Low agricultural productivity has increased the risk of food insecurity for many households. Mtwara and Lindi regions have good agricultural potential: the soil in most areas is reasonably fertile and the region has received sufficient rainfall in 13 of the past 15 seasons to grow most crops. Nonetheless, farmers in Mtwara and Lindi regions have experienced low agricultural yield.
With five years (2010-14) funding from DfID, CRSP(T) is focusing initially on rice as a sub-sector with subsequent expansion into other crops such as sesame. The overarching goal of the rice intervention is to significantly increase food security, productivity and incomes for poor rice producing households. The intervention is currently focusing on all the lowland rice schemes in Lindi District working with over 45 farmer groups. Approximately 2,300 farmers have joined into 46 groups so far. In the next five years, the intervention is expected to reach 37,500 farmers; in the next eight years, it will expand to reach 60,000 farmers in major rice /sesame producing areas of Lindi and Mtwara regions.
The current approach used is the Participatory Learning and Action Research for Integrated Rice Management (PLAR-IRM) framework, an approach that strengthens farmers’ capacity for integrated rice management through co-learning and innovation. PLAR emphasises the search for solutions that are adapted to locally specific problems and aims at maximising the use of local resources.
Intervention in the rice sector will increase rice productivity through assisting producers, groups and associations in improved rice management techniques and increase productivity and competitiveness of the rice value chain through facilitation of backward and forward linkages. These results will in turn improve food security and incomes of rice growing households.
Savings and Credit
By increasing access to financial services, including both savings and credit, the livelihood of farmers can be improved substantially. Research has repeatedly found that very poor and remote populations have the capacity to save, and do save, significant amounts. They also need access to very small amounts of credit to help smooth incomes, meet predictable expenses and reduce shocks in emergencies. Quick access to a small amount of credit or accumulated savings, for example, can enable a farmer to defer selling or pre-selling his harvest to a time when prices are higher, in some cases substantially increasing incomes. And with more stability in their cash flow, rural households can make better choices around health, education and nutrition, and as well, may invest in income generating activities.
Approximately 57 percent of Tanzanians above 16 years are excluded from semi-formal or formal financial services and services that do exist are restricted to urban and peri-urban areas.
In response, CRSP(T) has begun implementing the Community Based Savings Groups (CBSGs) project to provide access to both savings and credit to rural households across selected areas in Lindi and Mtwara. A CBSG enables a group of 15 to 30 people to come together and save. Once a sufficient level of savings has been reached, money is then loaned out to the members who pay interest on the amount borrowed. Group members agree to their own leadership, constitution, entry level payments and interest rates. Nearly 100 groups, with nearly 2000 members, had been formed by 2010. By 2014, the CBSG project aims to increase access to financial services for 112,500 people in all 12 districts of Mtwara and Lindi regions.
CRSP(T) is also expecting to work with the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM) to encourage increased outreach to the rural areas, including the possibility of developing micro leasing products and other working capital/fixed assets credit products for micro- and small-medium enterprises. The programme will also promote financial literacy and dissemination of information on financial services and products provided by various organisations in the area.
The tourism sector has been developing over the past few years attracting more investment in Lindi and Mtwara regions. Trading is the primary off-farm occupation in the two regions, providing a means of livelihood diversification for many rural families.
CRSP(T) will promote off-farm opportunities and diversification of incomes through enterprise development, specifically in the areas of tourism, handcrafts and agro-processing.
The health sector especially in Lindi and Mtwara is faced by a number of challenges that act in combination against the development of a healthy and productive population. Poor communications, poor water supply, poverty, poor rural health services and malnutrition are only some of the factors that contribute towards ill-health.
CRSP(T)’s health component will contribute to the improved health status of women of reproductive age and children under five years. This will be achieved through a number of strategies: Community mobilisation; health education and behavioural change and communication that are culturally relevant; capacity and performance enhancement of health professionals at the facility and district levels; and strengthening of the public-private health delivery system.
Ensuring continuity of learning and smooth transitions is a serious challenge in education. Factors such as high pupil/teacher ratios, overcrowded classes, lack of early stimulation, traveling long distances to reach school and the need to balance home chores and schoolwork all negatively impact learners’ progress. These and other factors result in delayed enrolment and poor learning achievements.
CRSP(T) will build the capacity of school stakeholders to design and structure effective and appropriate classroom interventions and make the environment conducive to teaching and learning. In order to achieve this, the following strategies will be used: Improving learning, student assessments and achievement; increasing awareness of inclusive education; improving transition from ECD to primary and secondary levels; and strengthening teacher development and management systems as well as community structures (i.e., school management committees).
Civil Society Strengthening
The programme focuses on two components in the civil society sector. The first component involves research that will help assess competencies of civil society organisations (CSOs) and support their development. Secondly, AKF will support government policy to encourage participation between communities and local government by underpinning that policy with mutual education, mutual training and encouraging mutual creative problem solving for villages, encouraging wide and multi-input approaches.
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