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“The People and the Land”

Newsletter
June 2008

African Roots Foundation – Tanzania, East-Africa – www.africanrootsfoundation.org – info@africanrootsfoundation.org


African Roots Foundation

The “African Roots Foundation”, or ARF, is a not-for-profit organisation based in Arusha,


North-Tanzania. It was founded in 2007 on initiative of Bush2Beach Safaris to create a
platform for inter-cultural experiences through which Western and African cultures
combine their strengths to increase the self support opportunities of local rural
communities through the initiation of integrated, community based development projects
that are actively and physically supported by eco-tourism.

Our Mission
African Roots Foundation’s mission is to improve the standard of living of small rural
communities whilst protecting the natural environment through the creation of small
scale, sustainable projects with the members of these communities, assisted by eco-
volunteers and eco-tourism to the mutual benefit of both the communities involved as well
as their visitors, delivering an active and sustainable contribution throughout Tanzania.

Our Objectives
ü To meet the immediate needs of the communities
according to local village leaders and representatives of
these communities/areas.
ü To provide additional income and employment through
the promotion of fair trade and sustainable tourism in the
project areas.
ü To increase future opportunities by providing education
and health increasing means and measures.
ü To contribute to the conservation of natural resources
and wildlife through education and research.

Our fields of action & interest:


ü Education; pre-primary, child and adult education,
environment and wildlife conservation, health & HIV
awareness.
ü Retaining and promoting cultural traditions and
practices.
ü Fair trade of locally manufactured cultural crafts.
ü Health awareness programs & health improvement
measures.
ü Water management and sustainable use of natural
resources.
ü Natural environment and wildlife, eco- and low impact
tourism.

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How it started
Bush2beach Safaris, a safari outfitter operating from Arusha, Northern Tanzania
specialises in offering their clients a pristine wilderness experience and ‘grass roots’
cultural tourism experiences throughout Tanzania. The communities in the rural areas
visited by Bush2Beach Safaris are in need of
education, employment, trade, and other areas
mentioned above to enable them to enhance their
living standards and future opportunities in a
sustainable manner.
Bush2Beach therefore initiated the founding of
African Roots Foundation to provide projects that
will help meet the immediate and future needs of
these communities, whilst offering tourists in
Tanzania the opportunity to contribute in a very
substantial, active and unique way, enriching their
inter-cultural experience.

Introducing ARF

Board of Trustees

Chris Pilley Ingrid Vaes


Managing Director, Operations Manager,
Bush2Beach Safaris Ltd. Bush2Beach Safaris Ltd.
ARF Founder ARF Founder

Mustapha Akunaay
Executive Secretary,
Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO)
ARF Founder

Operations

Niels Emmer
Program Coordinator,
African Roots Foundation

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ARF Projects
The African Roots Foundation has so far committed itself to two areas in Tanzania and has
been working with the communities involved into identifying areas where we can work
together and the daily issues facing the people involved. With the data gathered so far, we
have initiated projects in the areas of Eselelei, in the North of our country, and Pangani on
the East coast. Please allow us to give you an overview of what has been achieved and what
our focus will be for the time ahead…

Eselelei community development plan

Eselelei is a village in Northern Tanzania located in the heart of Maasai land. Situated on
sloping hills overlooking Lake Manyara National Park and the Great Rift Valley, the
Maasai's livelihood still largely depends on cattle herding. With a per capita income of
about $1 a day, the primary focus of families is on providing for the basic needs (food and
shelter). For many, providing education for their children is something they simply can’t
afford.

In 2007 ARF founders started looking into the needs of the Eselelei community in
cooperation with the community leaders and local residents. Though there already is one
primary school in the village, built by the Government, a clear need was identified for a
community (learning) center which can be used as a kindergarten, a community library,
tuition center for students as well as a place for the provision of adult education and
community workshops.

Eselelei has a number of tourist attractions; the village has its own natural beauty with
hills and wide-ranging vegetations and Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Park are just
a few miles away form the village. A bit further away you can find Lake Natron and
Ol'donyo Lengai (mountain of God). Around the settlement it is not uncommon to see eye
to eye with a passing giraffe or zebra.

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These together, the identifiable needs of the community and the possibility of eco-tourism
and wild-life research make Eselelei the perfect place for the involvement of ARF. A piece
of land was allocated and a community centre built. Assisting the community with the
daily running of the projects are groups of volunteers, who have their own accommodation
in the area and combine their stay in Tanzania with community support work through
ARF.

Income for the projects in Eselelei is generated from a combination of eco-tourism and
project-based funding. An integral part of the cultural experiences that Bush2Beach Safaris
offers to its clients is a visit to one of our project sites where you will not just look at other
cultures from a distance but instead engage with the community; from a medicine walk
with local guides to an unforgettable evening with Maasai dancing and traditional food and
practices.

Research
Recently, the volunteers assisting us in Eselelei have
visited a total of 14 Maasai bomas (settlements), housing
442 people, 318 of which are children. Questions were
asked concerning the composition of the families, the ages
of school going children and the perceived daily needs and
issues.
This research has been compiled and we are discussing the
outcome with the Maasai elders and the community as a
whole, enabling the selection of projects and the priorities
of these. Most important as seen by the community are the
availability of (clean) water, medication and good
education.

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Currently running projects

Kindergarten (Eselelei)
Having the community centre in place it made
sense to start with the need for education. With so
many young (pre-primary school age) children in
the community and the availability of the
volunteers, a start was made with the daily
running of a kindergarten.

Children and volunteers alike now benefit from


learning English (and Maasai) by interaction and
experience diversity in cultures first-hand. Songs
are shared, games played, parents have some
more time for their daily chores…

Adult Education / Community Centre (Eselelei)


In the afternoons and evenings, adults can use the centre. ARF is committed to organise
regular work-shops and trainings aimed at providing possibilities for the community to
improve their standards of living. Once a subject is identified ARF will contact a specialist
with the request to perform a workshop or training on that subject and target groups in the
community will be invited to the centre.

Bio-stoves
Our first workshop involved the construction of Bio-stoves from
locally gathered material. Traditionally, the Maasai women cook
using fire-food gathered in the bush, resting their cooking pots
on stones.
Cheap and simple, it also allows for a lot of heat to escape and a
big improvement in the efficiency of cooking can therefore be
made using the right stove.
The knowledge to make such a stove from materials available
locally was brought in by Mr. Meena, a teacher from Moshi, and
for the afternoon he demonstrated and practiced making the
stoves with the women from the community.
A trial will be started to demonstrate the amount of fire-wood that can be saved using this
technology, making the project sell itself to the rest of the community.

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Drip Irrigation System (Pangani / Eselelei)
Recently, a British volunteer assisted ARF with the setup and first
trials of a small-scale irrigation technique using a local 'drip
irrigation system' in Pangani, on the Tanzanian East-coast. With
this experience a set-up has recently been made in Eselelei.
After a few weeks of trial enough data will have been gathered to
perform a workshop in which we will demonstrate the principle
of this system and how to use it to grow vegetables in semi arid
conditions.
The garden itself will be available for the community and serve as
an example for people to copy in their own settlements.

DIY Solar (Pangani / Eselelei)


Driven by the need to operate small appliances like mobile phones and a lap-top, the
volunteers invested in a setup for solar-generated electricity. This setup allowed ARF to
study the real-life performance of such a setup in the Tanzanian environment and added
the possibility for the community to charge their mobile phones where before they had to
travel to the nearest town for this. Unfortunately, the set-up as operating here is too
expensive to re-create in each settlement but new technologies like small, white LED's
(bright, small but very efficient light source) combined with dropping prices for small solar
panels bring new possibilities.
As demonstrated by the very enthusiastic British inventor
Graham of DIY Solar, with very little money and locally
available materials, small torches can be built or little
radios can be powered. The possibilities this brings to the
settlements (studying at night, charging mobile phones,
listening to the radio), made us decide to start a pilot
using small-scale, low-cost solar solutions people can
build themselves.

Tour-guide training
Not so much a workshop as an ongoing transfer of
knowledge. Every time a tourist visits the project the
possibility is offered to get a close-up experience of the bush
and Maasai culture. These walks and visits are always guided
by an experienced guide brought in by Bush2Beach safaris
which is assisted by a local Maasai from the Eselelei
community.
This brings as many benefits to the assistant guide, who
works towards being a main guide himself as it does to the
visitor, who gets first-hand experience and information from
the best experts available, someone who has always been
living on the land.

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Future plans and projects
With the foundation fully operating and the first results of our community need
assessments, we have set-up a plan for the second half of 2008. Our first priority will be
the monitoring and fine-tuning of running projects since they will only be able to add value
to the lives of the communities involved if executed and monitored properly so as to ensure
their future sustainability.

Additionally, we are actively looking into the following projects:

Water catchment system, Eselelei


Sand dam project utilising adjacent korongo
One of the needs articulated by all of the Maasai of the community of Eselelei is access to
(clean) drinking water. Due to the semi-arid environment, women and especially children
spend many hours a day walking to the nearest place to get water for the family. Getting
water to the area will help the community in two ways; first and most importantly, people
need clean water to improve their health and reduce child mortality. Additionally, be
relieving the children of their daily water duties, they will be able to use this time to go to
school, creating a better future for their community.
Experience of a project like this in Kenya pointed us to
the availability of using ‘sand dams’, to catch existing
ground water and funnel it towards places where it can
be pumped out of the ground. We will actively research
the possibilities for this in Eselelei and if deemed
possible, start fundraising for this solution.
If you or anybody you know has experience with the
utilization of existing water sources in semi-arid environments, please come and help us
enable this community by sharing your knowledge, be it from a distance or maybe even in
person!

Dispensary, Eselelei
Alleviating the need for visits to town
The second most mentioned issue facing the people in Eselelei is
access to medication. Even for the smallest things the people of
Eselelei have to travel over 20 km’s to the nearest village of Mto wa
mbu so the (limited) availability of everyday medicine can greatly
assist them in their daily life.

We have contacted the proper authorities concerning the permits and skills needed to start
a small dispensary from our community centre and with the results of that will start
fundraising to create the starting capital needed for this.

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Nursery, Pangani
Expanding on the drip-irrigation-project
With the successful operation of our first drip-irrigation project in the coastal village of
Pangani and the villagers enjoying the first vegetables grown using this technique, the
possibility arose to expand this project into a full nursery, where villagers can grow native
plants and trees as an income generating project. We will work with specialists in this field
to look into the sustainability of such a program, along with the starting capital needed.

Bio-briquettes, Pangani
Using a waste product to generate income
Everybody that has been to Pangani once knows that the area is full of coconut groves and
deserted beaches. But whereas the coconuts themselves are of great use to the village, once
used, their husks are often disposed of, generating beaches and riversides flooded with
coconut husks. This nuisance can quite easily be turned into an enormous opportunity
since the husks can be turned into bio-briquettes with a very simple process. The
briquettes themselves can be used for cooking by the community or even for sale to the
surrounding communities, generating income for the people involved, enabling them to
better their own futures.
The benefits of using bio-briquettes made out of coconut
are many; it burns very efficiently and smokeless
compared to charcoal and leaves almost no residue,
relieves the pressure on the environment by reducing the
cutting of trees for charcoal and if well run, can create a
steady source of income out of something that up until
now is considered a waste product.
This project is very near execution, we are looking into a
proper place to start a small factory in cooperation with
the villagers of Pangani and are in contact with similar
projects run in Kenya (see picture) to be able to benefit
from their knowledge and best practices.
We are still looking for volunteers with relevant knowledge to assist us and the community
of Pangani; if you have any experience with the local, small scale processing of bio-
briquettes or related technologies, please contact us to assist!

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Concluding
Since our start in 2007 we have been building a community consisting not just of our own
people but actively involving the people in our project areas. This takes a lot more time
then the usual (donor driven) top-down approaches but we are convinced it is the only
way. If we strive to be the providers of information, knowledge, best practices and
communications and actively listen to and work with the communities involved, our
projects will create benefits for those communities long after their start.
We will always ensure that the projects ARF initiates address a clearly articulated need and
that the solutions offered enjoy the support of the communities themselves, thereby giving
these projects the best chance of creating a sustainable impact on the lives of everyone
involved. Not just now, but far into the future.
We hope the stories and images in this newsletter have given you a taste of the work and
vision of our foundation and the communities we work with. If you want to combine real-
life cultural experiences with the possibility of sharing your time and knowledge with the
people of Tanzania, we would love to hear from you! Join us as a volunteer to help in
person on one of our projects, as a specialist to help us create sustainable solutions to real-
life problems or as a donor to help us fund our projects.
The people of Tanzania are welcoming you with open arms to share your
knowledge, work together on a better future and to experience the real
lifestyle of the people and the land.

Contact the African Roots Foundation


African Roots Foundation
Box 11914, Arusha
Tanzania, East-Africa
Tel. / Fax: +255 (0)27 250 3700
Mobile: +255 (0)784 814 511
Info: http://www.africanrootsfoundation.org
Email: info@africanrootsfoundation.org

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