When Jorge Valero visited Dodoma in November of 2017, it wasn’t his first time in the region. He had previously visited Chololo village in Chamwino District in 2013. On this return visit, the Brussels-based journalist was greeted by locals as an old friends. However, the villages that he came back to visit were not altogether familiar to Mr Valero. Where mud huts once stood, Valero was surprised and pleased to see newly built concrete homes. As Valero put it in his article published at euroactive.com, “Chololo is vibrating”.
Valero puts much of the recent development in Chamwino and Dodoma urban districts down to the EcoACT project, which has been running in the region since 2011. Whilst visiting the two districts, he was able to interview over 40 villagers (both beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries). Many of those he spoke to had gained from the project’s multidiciplinary approach, including recipients of fuel-efficient stoves, solar technology trainees, owners of improved breeds of chickens, ruminants and cattle and users of newly-built water resources facilitated by the EcoACT project.
For Valero, highlights of his visit, detailed in the article entitled “Chololo, the ’secret formula’ for the future of development aid?”, included hearing from the Kikombe Youth Group about how they were trained to build small solar units worth 15,000 shillings (€5.70). He also shared his surprise at learning from livestock keepers how improved goats are boosting their economic capacity as they grow to larger sizes and fatten up quickly. But it was Martha Malongo who had the biggest impression on Valero. Prior to her involvement in the EcoACT project, Malongo made her money collecting and selling water and firewood. Now she is engaged in building fuel-efficient stoves charging 3000 Shillings (1.15 EUR) to recipients within her village in Idifu, and 5000 Shillings (1.90 EUR) outside the village. For Valero, “her story also teaches us how to embrace a disruptive future in a fearless manner.”
As it was his second visit to project sites, Valero was most keen to learn how EcoACT had scaled up its initiatives. Noting that the project has expanded to include new villages and into a new district of Dodoma, Valero’s main question was “(is) it possible to maintain communities engaged as the numbers (of participants) grow?” After meeting with a number of beneficiaries across three villages, his conclusion was that the answer is a resounding yes. In fact, in his own words: the project is “turbo-propelling the life of these communities.”
Ultimately, the EcoACT aims to increase the capacity of vulnerable rural Tanzanian communities to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change, and reduce poverty. Reflecting on the challenge of climate change, Valero notes that it has “played a fundamental role, as it is becoming even harder to survive in this part of Tanzania.” He observed that water and fire wood were two resources closely bound to climate change affecting the vulnerable region of Central Tanzania. Valero writes that “When the project installed few water pumps powered by solar energy and started building clay-made stoves in the houses, capable of halving the firewood required, the positive chain reaction was impressive.”
The article by Jorge Valero is entitled “Chololo, the ’secret formula’ for the future of development aid?” and can be found at http://www.euractiv.com