Kapele Youth Entrepreneurship Group members watering and harvesting some vegetabled in their garden
DEPENDENCY ON RAIN-FED FARMING
More than half of Tanzania’s economy depends on agriculture, despite it remaining unpredictable. In the 60 years since independence rain-fed farming has produced low results, making farmers vulnerable to droughts and floods.
Similarly, most farmers in Mbeya region highly depend on the climate for their livelihoods. At Kapele ward a tendency of relying on rainy season (masika) to conduct agriculture activities prevailed until recently. This also meant that during the long period of dryness, young people were idle and this gave them free time to engage in risky and unproductive behavior like overdrinking, unsafe sex practices, and playing drafts and card.
Initial but unsuccessful efforts were taken to tackle this problem. Young people formed entrepreneurship groups but could not sustain them for long due to lack of intensive livelihood and employment skills and support from village leaders or other development actors.
Restless Development started implementation of programme activities at Kapele ward in May 2012, and through Volunteer Development Professionals mobilised peers to arise and take initiatives to reduce unemployment issues in their area.
They began by forming new groups and, in association with Ward Community Development Officer and Ward Agriculture Officer, organised and conducted a seminar on livelihoods and employment, which ended up with the action point agreed by group members being to start contributing 2000 Tanzanian Shillings ( £0.77; $1.26) in each month for group savings.
At the seminar they emphasised that young people needed to identify and grab existing income generation opportunities in their surroundings, including utilising a range of available water sources, to successfully run a vegetable gardening programme which they initiated by June 2012.
A NEW BUSINESS MODEL
Within a period of two months (June-August 2012), after starting to engage in vegetable gardening,one group has already began to enjoy fruits of their efforts.
To start with, the group is now recognised at the village offices. Their long term ambition is to be formally registered as a community based group in Momba district, so as to be able to work with other entrepreneurship groups from nearby villages and share their projects and learning.
Following from sales of the vegetables they harvested, the group has been able to increase their finances that they expect to use in buying more plots for their garden. This short-term success has impressed many young people who have increasingly requested to join the group.
Initiative taken by young volunteers to mobilise and train these groups proves that young people can make things happen without depending on the government.
“Now we sell our vegetables and get money which we use to improve our group funds and cover our families.
We would like to thank Restless Development for bringing changes to our lives.”
Bernard SiameYouth Entrepreneurship Group member
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Contact: Mwadawa Mbandu