GETTING THINGS MOVING â€“ WHAT IS â€śCOMMUNITY DEVELOPMENTâ€ť ?
For years I have asked those working in NGOs, government and multilateral agencies to define in practical termsÂ many of the key concepts so often used â€“ What is a â€ścommunityâ€ť ? What is â€ścommunity developmentâ€ť ? and soÂ on. In fact any collection of people (in this case, Mafia, each village is considered a community and there are 24Â registered villages with their own demarcated land area and other responsibilities as well as a legally establishedÂ institutional structure with elected leaders, represented at the district level by a Council) is a motley of individualÂ personalities, goals, ambitions, behavior, etc. so imagine the task of getting agreement on ANYTHING !Â Let alone aÂ sustained development effort that requires individual effort, probably money too and certainly commitment, open-ness,Â involvement, energy, enthusiasmâ€¦.the list is long.
After 30 years in Tanzania I am yet to find a successful model for this and/or a community project that is self-sustaining (ie without external help and funding).
In Kenya I experienced the Harambee movement which is a self-help community-based movement that is especiallyÂ powerful in Kikuyu areas. Education, health and infrastructure (water supplies, roads, etc) are covered in suchÂ activities as well as agricultural projects and were borne of a spirited drive by Kenyans to improve their own conditionsÂ and not wait for a government that was unlikely to get to their needs. Education and knowledge have a great deal toÂ do with the institutionalization of the Harambee system.
But sadly this movement has never been emulated in Tanzania, where communities typically wait for governmentÂ or an NGO to deal with their needs. This has resulted in a lethargic attitude to â€śdevelopmentâ€ť and socio-economicÂ advancement and also means that social cohesion and institutional development are limited.
So what is the answer ? In our case we float ideas into the community: bee-keeping, fruit and vegetables, oyster-Â farming, bivalve harvesting for the hotel market (mussels, etc), crab farming, solar telephone charging units, etc. WeÂ then wait to see who responds and shows interest. We can help by (1) finding technical assistance and support (2)Â buying the product when it is produced (we guarantee this) and (3) even financing of the numbers make sense.
We try to minimize our involvement and do not â€śpushâ€ť ideas and proposals â€“ it must be self-generated but we do tryÂ to ensure that the candidates have the capabilities to learn and handle the business. This is a long process of courseÂ and very time-consuming so we cannot take on more than a few small projects each year.
This coming season (short rains starting November) we will be concentrating on our ongoing campaign to encourageÂ farmers to plant permanent fruit trees like oranges, limes, lemons, grapefruits and pumelos. We are also testing twoÂ lemon varieties from South Africa that showed promise on our farm in Zanzibar.
We are also initiating a new honey production project for the north of Mafia at Ras Bweni, as all the honey produced inÂ Mafia is chemical-free. We are using the top-bar hive that has been widely accepted in East Africa and can easily beÂ made by village carpenters.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT WORK IN MAFIA
Schools and Education
In recent years (2008, 2009) we were able to support two
education projects covering the building of two teacherâ€™s houses
at Bweni Village and a new classroom at Donge, near Kilindoni,
for another high school.
The limitation to the effectiveness of these contributions is the
availability and capability of the teachers, as education is one of
the countryâ€™s weakest sectors.
KINASI was the site of the FRONTIER research camp from 1988 to 1993, hence the name “Kinasi Camp”. From here FRONTIER, a British non-profit conservation organisation, conducted the surveys that led to the formation of Mafia Island Marine Park. The spirit of conservation and appreciation of Mafia’s natural resources is being continued through our varied efforts to ensure conservation and assist community advancement, including formation of the Mafia Island Tourism Association.
We are making a scientific collection of the shells of Mafia Island, first begun by FRONTIER, and carrying out surveys of birds, mammals and butterflies. KINASI has also sponsored the establishment of a nature trail and maintains and takes care of it for the use of all visitors.
KINASI was once an Iron Age site and we have been assisting the excavations here and near Arusha village, on the western side of Mafia, where Dr. Felix Chami has discovered forges, pottery, evidence of glass-working and habitation. This is a very exciting activity for the new finds and evidence the research is producing.
The Persian ruins at Kisimani Mafia and Kua are among the most notable of the East African coast and reflect the great influence of these people, especially from the 11th to the 13th Centuries.
We are also assisting the development of local handicrafts (clay pots, mats, boat models, furniture) and commercial product development (natural honey, smoked fish, calamari, crabs, oysters, seafood pate, marine aquaria specimens). We welcome interest, ideas and involvement from our guests in all our efforts.
THE NATURE TRAIL & BIRD-WATCHING
The Nature Trail is described in the special pamphlet that is available in all guest rooms. The trail is marked and provided with rest areas that are also good places from which to quietly watch birds.
The interesting wildlife on Mafia includes galagos (bushbabies) that you will hear every night at KINASI; there are also hippos, the blue duiker, genets, sykes and vervet monkeys, guenon, wild pigs and the large Pteropus fruit bat. Green turtles lay on some of Mafia’s remoter beaches.
KINASI has initiated Mafia’s first systematic bird checklist, compiled by Dudley Iles, who also developed the nature trail from KINASI. Contributions to the checklist are made by guests and other naturalists visiting Mafia, and we welcome assistance with this project.
The checklist itself follows van Perlo’s sequence of groups (Collins Guide to the Birds of East Africa). There is an excellent collection of bird books in the Kinasi library, as well as the wildlife collection and illustrated volumes on fish, shells, corals and other marine life.