Strengthening Rural Economies Through Farmer Associations “Gunge SAFI !” is the shout whenever the people of this small village meet to talk about the new ETI water/agriculture project.  It means Gunge is GREAT! in Swahili, and it expresses the hope that this tiny little rural village has, since the project began.

The project encompasses 4 small villages near the Pangani River, in one of the driest areas of the Kilimanjaro Region in NE Tanzania.  Gunge, Checkereni, Gama and Katahe contain a total of about 1200 people, and are roughly 10 miles from the nearest commerce center….a significant thing when you walk everywhere.  In spite of their proximity to the river, the land is painfully arid.  The walk through the desert to reach the river is full of predatory animals, the water is not clean, and the river contains crocodiles.  This is not a situation you want to put your wife and children in every day, and yet it is the only choice they have.

It was the story of one little boy from Katahe, left permanently disabled from a crocodile attack while collecting water at the river, that prompted Sheri Krumm, of the ETI board, to look at these villages as a potential site for a water project. It was horrifying to learn that in fact, his story is not a unique one in this area.   With so much need everywhere, the District Government simply could not put scarce resources into such a small population of people.

That made it a PERFECT location for ETI, who works to help the people in the most rural and neglected areas of Tanzania!

The project serves three needs in the area:

1)  Agriculture Improvement, both in field crops and household gardening:  The core of our project is farmer education, through the structure of Rural Farmer Associations.  This education will be available for a minimal cost, and focus on topics like integrated farming techniques, water harvesting in homes, nutrition, and how to raise and market high nutrition farm products, such as amaranth.  It will be taught by Tanzanian staff using Tanzanian curriculum, with some input from Agronomists in the U.S.  This concept has already begun in the nearby village of Hedaru, in ETI’s Nanny (goat) Project, where the benefits of equipping these farmers with fresh new ideas have been positively inspirational.  Once armed with a concept, they are endlessly creative in applying it to their lives in unexpected ways!

2) Safe drinking water where it is currently unavailable.  One of the chief issues in these small rural villages is a lack of nearby water.  Without easily accessible water, a disproportionate amount of time is spent carrying buckets, health is poor, and household gardening is not possible so high-nutrition food is scarce.  These situations are some of the root causes of a villages failure to grow and develop an economy.  Something as simple as a single well can completely change the situation for a whole village!

3)  Irrigation.  One of the great ironies of this area is that with irrigation from the nearby Pangani River, it is a breadbasket for row crops!  There is currently a 100+ acre area that is prepared for irrigation, but the intake is too small to meet the needs of that much land.  With a small improvement project to the intake, water will flow to these fields, and there will be a great increase in the amount of food for both consumption and for sale.

PROGRESS:

In 2010, the Nanny Project began in Hedaru as a model for the Rural Farmer Association.  As training has begun, it has become clear that this is a model with great potential, and ETI will be able to use it in the Gunge area, about 10 miles away.
The Water Engineering Surveys have been financed and are underway in Checkereni, Katahe and Gunge in the summer of 2011.  The results of those surveys will determine the exact methods used to deliver water to these areas.
Farmer Training is scheduled to begin in Gunge in Summer of 2011.  They have obtained permission from the National Government to build a small building for use as an Agriculture Training Center, but will use a nearby facility until that is complete.  Gunge is within walking distance of all four villages, making it the ideal location for this part of the project.

If you would like to donate to this project, go to the DONATE page, where you can make a contribution with either PayPal or Google Checkout.  Designate it “water projects”.  Your generous support is greatly appreciated!