A Report on the Chiwanda Farmers Education Project

by Fr. D. Mbunda , Director Institute of Adult Education, Dar-es-Salaam.

This is an interim report of the Institute of Adult Education’s first village development project. (Summary by John Arnold)

Chiwanda ward is on the shores of Lake Nyasa in Ruvuma region, its five villages have a total population of about 8,000. The area has a high level of literacy but health care facilities are poor and communications both by road and lake are difficult and irregular. Economically the Lake shore is very poor and people depend largely on agriculture and fishing. There is no cash crop and traditiona11y the young men have left to earn money by working in other countries. The main food crop is cassava with small amounts of maize and rice, all farming is done with the hand hoe. The supply of fish from the lake is unreliable and rarely adequate. As a result of their poor diet the Wanyasa people who live by the Lake suffer from malnutrition and consequently have little energy to experiment with new ideas. The difficulties in initiating developments in Chiwanda have been demonstrated over the years by the repeated failures of Government sponsored projects.

“The Chimate people were given financial and material support to start an Ujamaa village. Two donkeys for drawing ploughs were bought for the villages. The village also were given cows for milk. The donkeys died of neglect and ignorance; the cows were slaughtered by the villagers on a festival! The ploughs remained idle.

A coconut project was attempted to introduce cast crops in Chiwanda The project died at the nursery stage. The villagers hardly bothered to maintain the nursery. I visited the nursery through thick bush: the young plants were either burnt down by bush fire or overgrown with grass in complete neglect. The villages did not show any concern and the local agriculture extension officer had never visited the site”

Grape planting (for wine) was also attempted. The vineyard was not watered properly and many of the plants died and the project died at the initial stage.”

Despite the relatively high level of literacy achieved by formal schooling education had not provided the necessary dynamic for social and economic change until the mass radio learning campaigns ‘Man is Health’ (1973) and ‘Food is Life’ (1975). Through listening groups organised by the Institute of Adult Education people in Chiwanda began to recognise malnutrition as their problem and to discuss ways in which it could be remedied. Since the radio campaign had been organised by the Institute of Adult Education it was natural that its local President Tutor should be asked to help put the campaign’s ideas into practice.

In the light of the history of failures it was considered essential that any project should be fully acceptable to the local people and in order to achieve this they had to be involved at every stage of the planning. The first step was the creation of a planning team consisting of local leaders and representatives and extension service officers.

Under the guidance of I.A.E. staff

” … the Chiwanda people went about conducting their own survey for their own project design

… the Team would be introduced to simple skills in techniques of project formulation, implementation and evaluation.

… the key members in the five villages learnt about simple ways of problem identification, conducting feasibility study, project design, monitoring and evaluation.

We gathered sufficient data for our programme – the most important factor was the involvement of the Chiwanda people as active agents of change

… after the team had gathered the baseline data and analysed them that they set themselves to design the Chiwanda Farmers’ Educational Project: it was meant to produce the missing foodstuffs and learning opportunities for all the Chhranda community.”

The project designed by the team proposed three developments:

1) Fruit growing – each village to have a 2-acre communal plot and each Household two orange trees.

2) Vegetables – a 1-acre plot per village plus individual holdings.

3) Poultry – a single unit for the ward as an experiment.

These developments were to be backed up by a programme of training in new techniques of production, preparation and preservation of food.

The plan was put to a meeting of all village council members and 10 house cell leaders, after three days of discussion the project was accepted. With the people committed to working for the improvements the I.A.E. was able to seek funds to purchase the materials which were not available locally. S.I.D.A. (the Swedish International Agency for Development) offered sh.44,OOO/- and UNESCO sh 21.000/-. This money was used for seeds, young trees, insecticide, chicks, wire and nails.

“The Chiwanda people did the rest. They surveyed the area, clearing the sites, digging the holes, planting the fruit trees; weeding the plots; taking care of the vegetable gardens; building the poultry unit with locally collected materials, cared for the chicks – and arranged delivery system of the eggs, and kept records of the sales and so forth.”

Assessing the achievements of the project by mid 1978 the Institute of Adult Education found that the poultry unit had earned sh.10.000/- and egg consumption had become accepted to the extent that each village wanted to have its own unit. All of the villages were beginning to harvest pineapples and vegetables such as tomatoes; spinach and cabbage were being regularly planted and eaten.

“The Chiwanda Farmers’ Educational Project has shown that the peasantry can be mobilised to effect their own social and economic change. They must be involved and participate in all aspects and stages in the process. The discussion method is an effective mechanism to elicit participation. Need-based projects planned in a participatory manner have every chance of success. Educational programmes linked to work and productivity are self-motivating.”

However F. Mbunda emphasises that this is the first project of its kind undertaken by the Institute and that more examples are required before arriving at firm conclusions.

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