Citizens of Mkuranga urged to participate in village meetings

Citizens in rural areas have been challenged to take full advantage of participating in village meetings as a means through which they can be able to influence development processes at village and ward level.

Apart from this, it has been noted that limited knowledge among citizens in rural areas, is a key factor behind poor attendance in village meetings.

This unfolded in mid March during a capacity building training to the citizens of Mkuranga, village leaders, smallholder farmers as well as ward officers - conducted by a network of farmers in Mkuranga (MVIWATA) through the funding from the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS).

While opening the training, Sada Mwaruka, who is the Executive Director of Mkuranga District, Coast Region urged participants of the training to make maximum use of village meetings as a means to increase their knowledge and even disseminate the best practices to others.

“If village leaders do not hold regular meetings, then they should know that they are denying citizens the opportunity of discussing issues of their development, and/or even identify priorities that can resolve their grievances.

“Village leaders have a mandate of calling meetings, and more importantly, make sure that citizens get an opportunity to see periodic accounts of revenue and expenditures in their localities and discuss on them – in accordance with the Local Government Authority (LGA) laws and procedures,” said Mwaruka.

Giving up is not an option among People with Disabilities

Some People with Disabilities (PWDs) in Tanzania have been advised to work harder and hence overcome their seemingly tough social-economic challenges.

This was said in early March during a dialogue that brought together PWDs in Dar es Salaam to discuss rights of PWDs as well as advocacy measures to include PWDs’ rights in the country’s development plans.
Speaking his mind, one participant of the dialogue, Ally Ngurungu, said apart from giving views for the new constitution and calling for the protection of rights of PWDs, there is a need for some PWDs to stop begging and look for something to do.

“Amongst us PWDs, there are many individuals who have the ability to do great things in this country, it is better to use our skills and talents so that we can run away from poverty and over dependence.

On her part, Community Social Welfare Officer in Dar es Salaam region, Flora Masue, who opened the dialogue, has asked PWDs to make sure that their issues are included in the new constitution.  She said, time has come for PWDs to fight for their rights so as to reduce stigma and to give the group an opportunity to contribute in country.

She also mentioned issued that PWDs should put an equal emphasis for inclusion into the new constitution as: education, health and agriculture.
At a later stage, Secretary of the Association for the PWDs in Dar es Salaam, Mohammed Chazi, heaped praise on the dialogue, which was organized through funds from the Foundation for Civil Society - saying that it would help amplify their voices to concerned authorities.

He said during the period of collecting views of the first draft of the constitution, FCS enabled more than 48,000 PWDs across the country to give their views, and 70% of their views were included in the first draft of the new constitution

Required: guidelines to implement 2008 HIV Act

There is now a definite quest. The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has been asked to speed up the passing of standard guidelines for implementation of the 2008 HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Act so as to help reduce stigmatization and new HIV infections in the country. 

Along with this call, People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) want more sensitization to be given to the community with regards to the pandemic so as to enable the country reach its targets of having zero new infections, as well as having reduced stigma and deaths related to HIV/AIDS come 2015.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam in mid March at a two-day seminar to the PLWHA, together with other stakeholders in the 2008 HIV/AIDS Act, facilitator of the training, Japhes Baitan, said the law can hardly be implemented because as up to now there are no standard guidelines that have been passed.

“For this law to be implementable, it has to be returned to the PLWHAs and the entire community, then a Minister responsible has to look at it and preside over the implementation guidelines formulation. The goal is to attain zero new HIV infections, related deaths and stigma,” said Baitani.

He said the law has some very good provisions that prohibit unfaithful people to declare that they can cure the virus, disclosure among married couples of their HIV status and so on, but it has ironically not targeted a person who is yet to be infected – especially on how best to protect oneself. This is what the training participants observed as one of grey areas in the law, he said.

On his part, Juma Garaba who is the Secretary to a CSO on the fight against HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis (Maukita) said the PLWHAs need to understand the law so as to know clearly theirs rights and obligations, and hence take ownership in the fight against stigma. Maukita are the ones who organized the training workshop through the funds from the Foundation for Civil Society,

In different occasions, training workshop participants and people who declared to be living with HIV, Maimuna Hamis (49) and Athumani Mwirangi (40) said stigmatization to PLWHAs is still a big problem in the country and have called for more education to be given to communities and even sensitize more people to go for voluntary counseling and testing.

Since 2008 when President Jakaya Kikwete signed the law, the Ministry of Health has been giving updates that it is in process to formulate the guidelines.



Citizens of Rufiji called upon to participate in PETS exercise

Citizens of Mjawa ward in Rufiji district Coast Region have been challenged to participate in monitoring development programs under the health sector as well as take initiatives to report key challenges facing them so as to enable the government and other stakeholders to play their part in resolving their problems.

Speaking at the official opening of a seminar ahead of the implementation of a Public Expenditure Tracking System (PETS) project in the health sector, Mr. Daudi Said, who is a coordinator of Chem Chem ya Mabadiliko (Chechema) said the people have the right to make follow-ups on all public related projects, especially on the health sector. 

“The people of Mjawa do not know the importance of participating in these projects, so as to enable those who are responsible to be aware of the challenges facing this sector”, said Saidi.

He said even village leaders are not fully aware of their roles and responsibilities in the public expenditure tracking systems – leading to poor health services in their areas. He said the PETS exercise on health sector will be conducted in five wards of Mjawa for the period of three months and will cost TZS 7 Million, being the funds from the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS).

He further said that Chechema decided to unveil the project following complains that the health services provided in the area were not adequate despite having a dispensary in place. Mr. Saidi added that the dispensary has a big deficiency of diagnostic equipment, medicine and the personnel.


Serengeti residents trained to conserve the environment to boost tourism

The Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) continues to make an impact in the area of Civil Society Capacity strengthening, this time as far as in Serengeti District.

Some residents in the district have just benefited from a capacity building training aimed at boosting cultural tourism and environmental conservation. Serengeti is one of the most famous Tanzanian wildlife-rich districts. The move seeks to unveil key economic opportunities of tourism that can be tapped by low-income earners’ groups in a bid to uplift their living standards.

“Our aim is to help the communities realize their potentials and make good use of available resources while conserving the environment,” says Mr. Joshua Nyansiry, the Executive Director of SCC during the sidelines of the training workshop held in the district. He says about 36 participants from various villages of Serengeti have benefited from the capacity building training and look forward share the acquired skills with their communities.

“FCS has become our first partners on this awareness drive and we expect to have some revived art of sustainable conservation,” says Mr. Nyansiry who is also a native and resident of Serengeti District.

Mr. Lameck Nyasagati, from the Tobora Water Users’ Association in Serengeti welcomed the capacity building training and described it as significant step towards development of tourism sector in the district. Largest portion of Serengeti is a game protected area including the world’s most famous Serengeti National Park (SENAPA).

“You can’t have sustainable tourism without good environment in place and this workshop has set a good example on what should be done in our district,” the 53 – year old man said shortly after attending the workshop. 

Nyasagati is one of Serengeti villagers who have lately been in the frontline to sensitize his fellow villagers to engage in conservation activities and stop human activities that cause environmental threats.

On her part, Ms. Easter Maswi (48) says she now stands a better chance to do something for the development of cultural tourism in the area after attending the training workshop.

“Already am an entrepreneur and with the training I have received I will help many other women to establish small scale economic projects that are friendly to environment,” says Ms. Maswi who is a mother of nine children from Nyamoko village a few kilometers from Mugumu town.

Government environmental experts are also optimistic that the training would boost environmental conservation campaign in the district.

“This is a wakeup call to stakeholders in making them participate in conservation and tourism activities,” says Mr John Landoyan, a senior official at the Serengeti District Council Natural Resources and Tourism Department.

Mr. Landoyan who took part to facilitate the training says the organisation (SCC) will also use the opportunity to set up a strategic plan aimed at boosting environmental conservation and tourism in the area.

SCC plans to extend the programme in the more parts of Serengeti district depending on the availability of resources, according to Mr Nyansiry. “This is just the beginning and our target is to reach the entire district of Serengeti,” says  Mr. Nyansiry.

SCC is a Civil Society Organisation registered in 2011 and since then it has been striving to boost environmental conservation and cultural tourism in Serengeti. The district has unbeatable large plains blessed with a variety of beautiful fauna and flora including the great migration of wildebeests’ migration.


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