In 2013, when Brussels-based reporter Jorge Valero first visited Chololo village, in Kikombo ward, Dodoma, he saw the beginnings of change. The EU-funded Chololo Ecovillage project – a model of good practice in Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation – had recently begun and villagers were beginning to experience the benefits.
Four years later, Mr Valero has come back to Dodoma, to see how the villagers he met in 2013 are getting on now and to find out how the project has grown in scale. This upscaling of the project is part of the evolution from the Chololo project to the Ecovillage Adaptation to Climate Change in Central Tanzania (EcoACT) project, which targets 17,952 villagers in four villages in two wards of Kikombo in Dodoma Municipal Council and Idifu in Chamwino District Council.
The aim of EcoACT is to increase the capacity of vulnerable rural Tanzanian communities to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change, and reduce poverty. It builds upon the success of Chololo Ecovillage, which resulted in major improvements in food security, increased incomes – especially for women, and increased resilience to climate change.
Sitting in the office of the Ward Exectutive Officer for Kikombo ward, Jorge is greeted by the village executive officer and chairman of the village, flanked by participating EcoACT villagers. He’s here to listen to personal testimony of how EcoACT has improved the livelihoods of individuals and the society as a whole.
The first area of change shared by participants is the transformation of agriculture systems. The project has imparted a package of good agricultural practices which are designed to build resilience to climate change. By planting in rows, digging water-harvesting trenches and adopting climate resilient seed varieties, EcoACT farmers in Kikombo say that they’ve harvested enough to feed their families despite the harsh drought of the 2016-17 growing season which saw many neighboring farmers fail to harvest anything at all.
EcoACT goat rearer Deborah Mahenge (picture) told Jorge about how the improved varieties of cocks and bucks (male goats), introduced by the EcoACT project, have spread rapidly across the ward. These improved varieties and their offspring offer more meat, eggs and milk and grow much faster. The improved goats for instance grow to maturity roughly 12 – 18 months quicker than the traditional breeds present in the villages.
Jorge also had a chance to visit the kikombe youth solar group and heard about how solar appropriate technology (SAT) trainings from Dr Hong Kyu Choi have sparked hopes in local youth. Since receiving this unique training the Kikombe group has gone on to put together a constitution which will guide their operations. They hope that through construction of SAT solar units, they can build a successful businesss which will support their livelihoods.
Rahel Nyangusi welcomed Jorge to her home in Makulu village, Kikombo ward. Here he was able to see first hand a fuel efficient stove built buy constructors trained as part of EcoACT. The stove replaces her traditional three stone oven (pictured below) and comes with many benefits, as Rahel explained. Rahel and her children now suffer from much fewer respiratory illnesses due to the new stove, as it funnels smoke out of the house. She also uses half as much firewood, as the new stove burns a bundle of firewood in two weeks compared to one week with the three stone oven.
Jorge’s overall perception of the project is that the benefits that he saw in 2013 have been successfully upscaled. As he put it in a recent Twitter post:
With no fanfare, EU-funded project turned upside down Chololo (Tanzania). From struggling to survive now they can even afford subscription to follow Spanish league. First time I came in 2013 they were enjoying benefits, now spreading them to neighboring villages pic.twitter.com/QZ5L37Xxex
— Jorge Valero (@europressos) November 26, 2017
We thank Jorge for his recent visit to Kikombo and Idifu and welcome him and other media representatives to continue to share the successes of the EcoACT project with the world