Kagera CSO grapples with elders’ challenges into opportunities

Elders in Kagera region are said to be facing a great deal of challenges, including lack of access to medical services, income as well as special social security fund.

The plight of the elders was thus put across recently by Ms. Ruth Hole, who is a lawyer at the Shirika la Saidia Wazee Karagwe (SAWAKA) during a stakeholders’ seminar that aimed at raising awareness on the 1999 Land Act No. 4 & 5 through funds from The Foundation for Civil Society (FCS).

Hole said elders in the region still face a number of challenges – ranging from lack of income and social security. She sees all that contributing to the retardation of a collective national development since the senior citizens are by large unable to workout solutions to their problems.

She said yet the biggest obstacle is that many elders present in the region are illiterate, such that often times their income levels get dented at the time of selling their farm crops. This is because many of the elders tend to fall prey to exploitation manned by unfaithful buyers who in turn give them little money in exchange of the quantity of crops being sold.

She thus said many of the senior citizens remain in difficult life since they are not involved in any economic activities, and worse still, most of their grand children and/or children lie idle in the streets – indulging in alcoholism and the use of drugs.

CSO reminds parents to check on children’s school attendance, performance

Parents and guardians in Mtwara region have been urged to cooperate with teachers and ensure that there is constant follow-up on their children’s attendance and academic performance at schools.

The call has been made by Mr. Baltazar Komba, who was a facilitator in an education stakeholders’ training organised by the Volunteer for Youth in Health and Development (VOYOHEDE). The two-day capacity building training to Vigaeni ward education officers, ward executive officers, secondary school board members, parents and students was made possible through funds from The Foundation for Civil Society (FCS).

Komba thus said for a student to learn and perform well at school, it is the parents’ or guardians’ role to cooperate effectively with the teachers, and ensure that their children really attend classes, let alone making follow-up on other child development issues.

“Parents or guardians seem to have overlooked the role checking their children’s academic performance. Many of them tend to think that their parental role is only limited to provision of necessities such as school uniforms and stationeries. Believe you me - it is unacceptable to delegate all the tasks related to child academic development into the hands of teachers alone.

“Therefore, parents and guardians are obliged to keep a close eye on their children’s academic performance when the latter get back from school, and even keep constant check on their text book assignments and other school activities on daily basis,” said Komba.


 


Dialogue inspires the Maasai to uphold gender equality

The issue of gender equality has firmly become prominent and evident, as a result of a public dialogue conducted recently at a Maasai community of Longido district in Arusha region with the aim of strengthening relationship between citizens, parliamentarians and other representatives.

Conducted by the Longido NGO Network (Longonet) through funds from the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS), the dialogue brought together over 150 citizens from all corners of the drought stricken district of Longido in Arusha region - mostly the pastoralists, farmers, local government leaders, youth, traders and NGO’s representatives.

Longonet chairman, Justinian Ngemela says: “It was a taboo for Maasai women to speak before men. This has been there for years, but during the dialogue women from this indigenous group were able to speak on their plights and matters concerning them.”

“It was hard to break through such unyielding customs that deny women to speak out before men, who always feel superior to their spouses,” Ngemela said, noting that before getting into the dialogue Longonet carried out a series of training, which were meant to empower women in a number of areas.

“Changing Maasai’s traditions and beliefs is something that needs time, so, as CSOs, we had to organise series of civic education through training, seminars, and workshops. The idea here was to raise awareness amongst Maasai (both men and women).”

Ngemela who is based in Longido Township, which is close to Namanga border post, nearly 110 kilometers from Arusha township says: “Things are now changing to better as Maasai women can speak and can do business, something which was like a taboo in the past.”

A resident of Longido who participated in the dialogue, Sara Mollel, says in the past a Maasai woman had no significant voice before a man “but now we’re happy with what that has happened through the dialogue, as we have been free to speak out in front of men.”

“I must commend our NGO network here together with other players who have made this possible. We are increasingly engaging in civic issues and social economic activities - something that was rather impossible in the past. We can even ask our community leaders on what we think it not right,” says Sara.

On her part, Martha Ntoipo says: “We want representatives who can provide answers to our problems. And since the country is in the constitutional making process, we would want a document that in the end makes our leaders accountable to their actions. Maasai pastoralists are not treated equally, that’s why we think it is important for the constitution to incorporate all issues facing our community, both women and men.”

According to Longonet official, Justinian Ngemela, Maasai women and men actively participated in the debates and aired their views on what their leaders are supposed to do, taking into account that most of the later are far away from the ‘wananchi’.

Apart from upholding gender issues in the discussions, Samuel Mollel, who is one among the citizens that took part in the debate, says the dialogue laso played a big role to bridge the gap between citizens and their representatives being MPs or ward Councillors.

 “In the past, it was a taboo for an ordinary man or woman in the street to ask a leader, but now we’re able to do so,” he says, adding that Longonet has also managed to make people aware their civic rights.

Petro Akham, one of the facilitators, describes the forum as one of the important tool towards building people’s confidence.

“It provides avenue for marginalized groups in the country to raise their voices…” he said.

Another participant, Tarasila Moshi says: “It was one of the good avenues for Longido residents to raise voices on key issues of their choices.”

However, Ngemela concludes: “The people here, regardless of their gender, have also started attending village meetings and asking on different issues including income and expenditures. To me I see this as a success story as in the past things was different as no one could ask a leader anything.”





Village leadership flaws get exposed in public dialogue

Lack of integrity among village executives, citizens’ little understanding of governance and civic issues, as well as poor participation of local executives in village meetings are key factors behind failure to exercise good governance at the local level.

This was revealed by citizens of Nanyamba ward, in Mtwara region during a public dialogue on good governance and accountability organised by Saidia Jamii Kuishi (SAJAKU) through funds from the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) recently. Over 250 citizens participated in the dialogue and were able to raise their voices and concerns.

Contributing to a discussion, resident of Namkuku village, Mohamed Mwalimu, said many citizens in the village have little knowledge on the importance of the village or ward meetings, thus failing to attend meetings called by village executives.
A resident of Dinyecha village, Shamte Ahmad says lack of integrity among the village executives is a key reason as to why citizens do not show up in the village or ward meetings. He added that citizens need to be educated so that eventually the local authority executives can be held accountable when there’s misuse of public funds and resources.

“You will find out that the people do attend meetings, but when it comes to the reading of income and expenditure reports some ‘issues’ tend to arise leading to some misunderstandings. This is why citizens do not see the importance of attending these meetings even though they are vital in executing the principles of good governance,” says Shamte.

Hadija Lyangunde from Nanyamba village says failure among local executives in sensitizing citizens to attend the village and constituency meetings is one of the reasons for the citizens not to attending the meetings.

Hadija says, if local executives play their roles effectively in sensitizing citizens to participate in village meetings, then the attendance will be good, and hence the pace of development at the local level will be enhanced - for the realisation of good governance.

Facilitating the dialogue, Mr. Said Swallah, says good governance can only be achieved when the executives conduct meetings and the citizens attend them effectively.

Swallah says development cannot be achieved where good governance is not exercised. Thus, it is very important for every person to perform his/her duties in line with the principles of good governance.

While opening a session, the ward executive of Nanyamba, Hassan Mauji, reminded the village leaders on the importance of holding village meetings and writing the minutes that are to be forwarded in ward development committees, such that the very village plans are easily taken forward when reaching the district council deliberations.

Mauji says absence of village meetings is not only going against the principles of good governance but delays the citizens’ development.

Basically this has been a big problem in our ward, we have witnessed citizens firing their leaders because of not conducting the village meetings. This is not a good thing... I have been running the ward development meetings as a chairperson of the committee, but you may find there are no minutes written by the village which literally means we have not conducted the meetings,” laments Mauji.

Prior to giving a welcoming note to the guest of honour in a reflection meeting also held recently, the executive secretary of SAJAKU, Nashiri Pontiya, said the objective is to raise more discussion around issues on good governance.





TAS appeals for security following attacks directed to albinos

The Tanzania Albino Society (TAS) in Dar es Salaam has appealed authorities to step up security for people with albinism since their lives are in danger.

The call has been made in mid August by the TAS General Secretary, Ms. Zakia Nsembo, in the wake of recent brutal attacks directed to people with albinism in Tabora and Simiyu regions.

TAS is an independent organisation, run by people with albinism with the aim of advocating for their welfare. For a couple of years TAS has been funded by the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) in a number of projects that aim at enhancing their democratic rights and participation in development processes.

Thus, Zakia said the recent brutal attack directed to albinos (as was in the past few years) has made them keep indoors, and hence unable to perform their daily activities for fear of being attacked.

Just recently, an albino girl and a resident of Buhelele ward, Nsimbo district in Igunga region, Susan Mungi (35) was attacked and her arm got chopped off by unknown people who then disappeared.

During the attack, Susan’s husband, Mapambo Mashili was brutally killed soon after being hit by a sharp object on his head and chest. He was trying to save his wife from being attacked.

The attack in Igunga came hardly a week after another albino girl at Usinge village in Kaliua district, Tabora region, Upendo Sengerema, was attacked and her hand chopped off by unknown people.

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