Posts Tagged TNVS

“I’ve been workin’ on mosquito nets, all the live long day”

Hello internet, Whatcha knowin’? I’ve come to watch your flowers growin…’

Over the last 5 months I’ve had people ask me about how work’s going and what it is exactly that I am doing over here this year. Well, I will aim to appease fan request(s) and give a little glimpse into how I spend my daily 8-5. Boring! Alas, you asked and I wrote it. Hope it gives you a quick glimpse into my weekday working world.

“I’ve been workin’ on mosquito nets, all the live long day”

Well, that’s not really so true. Despite working on a mosquito bed net program, I really barely ever see any mosquito nets in any of my day-to-day work (but I do actually sleep under one every night. Malaria Haikubaliki!) Also, to the disappointment of some people I meet on the street and tell them where I work – I can’t get you a free one. More accurately – the change to the classic children’s/folk song would be along the lines of  ”I’ve been working on Microsoft Excel spreadsheets/mobile phone applications & databases/4 hour partner meetings, all the live long day…”.

The first piece of my job is essentially program/project management stuff for the Tanzania National Voucher Scheme (TNVS). I spend a lot of time writing reports, memos, and letters to the Ministry of Health, the Donor agencies, and our public and private sector implementing partners. I keep an eye on how the program is doing in the 21 regions across mainland Tanzania through voucher and net sale statistics and try to find ways that we can help things along by working with our net distribution partner and our Regional Managers in the field.

The other piece of this role has been a rather massive data entry, clean-up, and digitization exercise of our program’s paper records into a central database/Management Information System. This database is the basis for enabling and launching some very cool mobile phone reporting tools (which our in-house (literally, he’s my roommate!  haha, lame jokes rock) technical guru Zach  has built) using SMS messages and GPS coordinates from the net distribution company and shop owners to better track and GIS map the program activities as they unfold in real-time. Ambitious and a bit scary to do country-wide but underway.


A second piece of my role is entitled – Business Development and Communications. Thus far, this has been an interesting but much smaller component of my work. I’ve been updating and printing promotional materials, re-designing and writing our new website, and been involved in the search for new projects and partners for the organization in the future. If you are interested in learning a bit more check out our shiny new homemade website at http://medatanzania.org

Soft skills are for ‘team players’

Life is a blast when you know what you’re doin
Best to know what you’re doin ‘fore your life get ruined
Life is a thrill when your skill is developed
If you ain’t got a skill or trade, then shut the hell up

Hieroglyphics -At the helm. Again…a very random insertion of music lyrics into the post. But a great song…and sometimes when I hear this verse I think to myself…I need to get myself some skills! (I mean I know I have mad rap skillz but) …it would have been easier if I would have just given up on enjoying life and become an Accountant (joking! please don’t audit me) and at least had a hard skill/trade/set professional path. I know I am learning and gaining good experience but…Everyone is a team player, good communicator, and thinks outside the box on their resume. How will working on a mosquito bed net program in TZ be viewed on the future resume?…time will tell I suppose.

Breaking News:  Mobile phones will not ‘save Africa’

Rant: Technology can do a lot of great things for development and it should be used where it can help in simple, practical, and achievable ways. But I think it isn’t the answer to everything and can dangerously eat up valuable project resources when forced unnaturally into situations. All this said, as I described above, a part of my work here this year has been working with the integration of technology into the TNVS program so this is an area that I go back and forth on often. There are plenty of success stories and we are working to make this project one of them… but I do get a bit worried when I see everyone and their neighbor in this field rushing headfirst to integrate mobile technology into their projects cause it’s the next hot thing that those controlling the money want to see.

I am far from being on top of the field in this topic but it can seem clear from here. Design solutions in the most usable way for the people that are targeted – don’t design to get a project to be ground-breaking or to get  funded (easier said than done and naively idealistic? just perhaps). Check out a really cool Human-Centered Design Kit here which was passed along to me if you are interested in this kind of stuff!

An office with a view or a view with an office?

One thing I would never ever dare complain about is the view I am looking out across from my desk each day.

Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen.

Are we speaking the same language?

Acronyms are a way of life in a lot of industries, but I feel like they are especially prevalent in the international development field. With all the different Governments, Donors, Organizations, Accords, and Agreements  put together it makes for a steep acronym learning curve.  Heck, I have apparently gotten into the spirit myself given the job title TL, TNVS, BD & C.  Here is a sample which I read this past week from a publicly available United States Agency for International Development document called ‘Feed The Future (that’s USAID FTF for those of you counting at home) – Tanzania 2010 Implementation Plan’ ;

When NEPAD adopted CAADP (2005), the GOT was finalizing ASDP for implementation in 2006. The GOT began the CAADP process, but progress stalled based on a consensus that ASDP articulated the CAADP pillars. Following the G8 L’Aquila meeting and 2009 multi-donor CAADP meeting, the GOT revived CAADP by inviting the NEPAD Secretariat to assess ASDP compliance with CAADP requirements.

Are we speaking the same language? Progressing with Swahili continues to prove challenging enough thank you.

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So what’s this all about?

Welcome (“Karibu”) to my blog about travels, development work, and everyday life here in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Here in Tanzania, the daily greetings are just about the most important thing to know in Swahili so I figure I better get these formalities out of the way right away.

I arrived safe and sound here in Dar es Salaam, where MEDA is located, in mid- September. Apologies for the lack of a quick start on the whole blog thing – somehow it’s not always the most exciting option to choose when deciding what to do over here… Dar is Tanzania’s largest city with a population of about 3 million and is the centre of commerce and administration for the country. I figured for this first post it might be helpful to just do a quick overview about the organization and work that I am doing here. I’ll be living and working in Dar for an 8 month internship contract with an organization called MEDA. There are three of us in total here with MEDA Tanzania and I live, work, and travel with Zach and Jeremy (whom I am sure will be further introduced in later stories).


MEDA is a leading Non-Governmental Development Organization (NGO) headquartered in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada but working in over 30 countries around the world. MEDA is known internationally for it’s unique approach in providing business and market-based solutions to problems caused by global poverty. I’ve been very impressed so far with the innovation and out of the box thinking that MEDA has applied to Check out their work on their website here (www.meda.org) or watch YouTube videos on their many global projects here.

Hat Punguzo project on YouTube

We work within the Production-Marketing Linkages (PML) group which (lifted right from the orientation materials..) assists small-scale producers to increase their incomes and build their livelihoods through improved production and pathways to effective markets. PML also supports the development of distribution networks that reach disadvantaged consumers with appropriate and affordable products.


MEDA Tanzania is the country branch operating the local Tanzanian operations and projects and has been in country on a number of different micro-finance and business of health areas since 1986. Once again, I’m going to just take the lazy way and paste in some more official lines to help me better explain the work. Our mission is to bring hope, opportunity and economic well-being to rural and urban communities of Tanzania by building the capacity of the economically active poor and linking them to production, marketing and financial infrastructure.

MEDA Tanzania manages two different but closely related projects:  The Tanzania National Voucher Scheme (TNVS) and the Under Five Catch up Campaign (U5CC).  The goal of both projects is to increase the coverage and use of insecticide treated [mosquito bed] nets (ITNs) among specific target groups (pregnant women and children under five, the population most at-risk for malarial mortality).  MEDA’s work focuses on management, logistics, and the delivery of ITNs to each target group through a unique public-private partnership (PPP) which strives to build a sustainable private sector distribution network in the country for long after the aid dollars have disappeared.

hati punguzo logo


I’ll be working on the project in the area of Business Development and Communications. From what I know so far that will involve some work with project management of some of these programs, researching new funding opportunities, writing and submitting funding proposals, building relationships with donors, reporting, and a host of other tasks where needed. They’ve got some pretty ambitious targets set for us during our time here – both a good thing but also a little intimidating…more on that line of thinking next time.

Alright, that’s more than enough for now.

Cheers,

Dan

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