Posts Tagged U5CC

Red. Green. Blue.

Well this post is running about three weeks behind schedule and the actual events since I returned from my U5CC issuing trip on November 9th – but hey, better late than never I guess.

It was a real cool trip and definitely lived up to my expectations. It was also a bloody lot of driving. It was just over 1000 km each way from Dar es Salaam to the city of Songea where I was based. Including all of the driving we did on each day and the amount of the province of Ruvuma that I saw over my 9 days there I could easily add another 500-1000 km onto that. This puts me around a third of the way across the Trans-Canada Highway to put things into perspective and I can assure you that the roads were nowhere near as smooth.

The other main thing that stuck out to me has to be the colours in this part of the country and hence the title of this blog post. Honestly, it was like someone had taken the Colour and Highlights tuners on a television set and cranked them up way too high and I was looking at the world through this RGB colour-distorted viewfinder. At almost all times I can think of one or more of these three colours was dominating the landscape.

Somebody please turn down the RGB

Green. The rain seemed to fall a bit more regularly here in the Southern Highlands than elsewhere in the country that I had visited and this was most evident in the many bright shades of green foliage found everywhere as pictured above.

Red. The soil in Ruvuma was unbelievably bright red – everywhere I looked had some sign of the bright red dirt. The soil is also used to make the brick and mud for many of the buildings which results in the same neon reddish-brownish-orange tone in the majority of the buildings. It’s also fairly dusty the city of Songea (where I spent much of my time) and on the country roads. This results in pretty much everything else (including all my clothes and the aforementioned dusty feet) being covered by a coating of this colour.

You can see the red soil in the region from high above in google maps!

Blue: The colour blue also holds a dominant place in the memories from this trip. Maybe it was just being out of the city and (relatively) tall buildings, but the sky seemed enormous here. Blue is also the colour of the mosquito nets being distributed as you will see in some photos below so this played a pretty major role in my days.

Observations and a few things I learned:

  • This is U5CC Campaign MEDA is running is a huge operation. It really blew my mind to think that I was witnessing this mass distribution of free Long-Lasting Insecticide Nets (LLINs) in action in just a small handful of issuing points at the village level and imagine this happening across the country. To give you a better idea.. there were about 1-4 issuing points in each village. There are about 5-8 villages/streets in each Ward. There are about 10-20 Wards in each District. There are 133 districts across the 21 Regions of mainland Tanzania that the U5CC covers. To efficiently plan, organize, and distribute close to 7 million of these LLIN’s to a population so spread out across the country and hard to reach is just an amazing logistical achievement.

4 of the 7 million LLIN nets distributed through the U5CC program

  • This guy can be a scary thing too little kids in areas where mzungu’s don’t often tread. I had it mentioned to me by parents in a few situations where I made kids run away or cry that I was probably the first white person that their kid had seen. I was honoured.

Would you just look at the pure fear in those big brown eyes...

  • The real work is getting done in the field. These are the troops on the ground and the staff that really know what is happening with the program. Just from being in the field for a week and a half I was quick to realize a number of misconceptions that I had been operating under while working away at HQ and areas where communication can really be improved. It’s a pretty basic observation I guess – but one that should always be kept in mind in any job and any organization – if you want to know what’s really happening be sure to keep in open communication with the front lines.

Line-up for nets at a Issuing point in the city of Mbinga

  • I really don’t know much swahili yet. I had felt like I was making some steady but slow progress while in the safe confines of our swahili lessons, english speaking work, and the big city of Dar. Going out to Ruvuma where there is very, very little english spoken and not much of an effort made to accomodate the english speaker – you realize just how little you really do know.

A LLIN from the U5CC program in use

  • I would be much more effective if I did know the language. It was a great trip and I accomplished everything that I had hoped coming into it. I observed the program in action, took notes, asked questions, interviewed stakeholders, and snapped lots of good pictures for future promotional use – BUT I did really feel quite helpless and useless a good portion of the time as I sat there lost in a verbal sea of swahili… managing to pick out and understand only every 4th or 5th word. If nothing else it was very motivating to try and speed up my learning (Editors note: I’ve been back for 3 weeks and this has not yet happened).

And now for a small sample of the 500+ pictures that I took on the trip…

Tea fields at sunset on the road down south

Goofing around for the camera in Songea

Fish from Lake Nyasa drying in the sun with Tanzanian coast in the background

Looking down a fish drying rack to the world's 8th largest lake

Children on wooden canoe with Lake Nyasa/Malawi in the background

A recent mother laughs at my request for her to model her recently collected mosquito net

Waiting in line with registration card

The Tanzanian way of life is full of colour whether kangas, flip-flops, or dirt.

Learning to carry things on her head early

Hope you enjoyed the pictures!

I will aim to have Part II of my posts from this field trip up soon which will tell you a story about one particular afternoon of my time down in Ruvuma.  What happens when Dan meets the First Lady of Tanzania? A new episode in detail called “Mama Kikwete and Me”.  Stay tuned.

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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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