Archive for May, 2009

ALBINOS

Visiting Shinyanga, the region most affected by the killing of Albinos, so that their body parts can be used in traditional medicine, Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda made a controversial statement suggesting that those caught red handed murdering albinos should be instantly killed. To wait for court action was to delay justice, he said. . “I know some people will raise the question of human rights but I can’t accept a situation when someone is handed to the police and then stands trial that drags on for years.”

He said that while he was on tour three more albinos had been killed and the people who killed them just cut off the organs which they needed. He went on: “My intention was good. I intended to threaten the killers into stopping their brutal actions and I thought that what I said would help in the efforts to curb the problem.”
The Chairman of the UDP party, John Cheyo, said his party supported the idea of summary execution of people caught killing albinos, adding that no other punishment was suitable for them. He said that the ritual killing of albinos had become a national crisis while many of the perpetrators were acquitted – Majira.

When the PM returned to the parliament in Dodoma, opposition parties demanded that he should resign. Pinda apologised for his remarks in Shinyanga and, in tears, explained that he had been very upset by the magnitude of the problem he had found while on his tour. His apology was accepted. He added that he had requested religious and political leaders to help end the problem which was ruining the good image of the country. Al-Shymaa Kwegyir MP, who is an albino, said there had been nothing wrong with the statement because the PM’s intention was to end the killings. Those condemning the PM had never visited the places where albinos were being killed – Guardian.

Pinda also announced that he was going to revoke licences for traditional healers as a step towards combating the killings. He has been assured by the Attorney General that this could be done under the Traditional and Alternative Medicine Act 2002. Pinda asked regional and district heads and local governments to enforce the order. Those applying for fresh licenses should submit their medicines to the Muhimbili National Hospital for scrutiny and approval – Tanzania Daima.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Observer asked: ‘Is Ukerewe Island becoming a safe hideout for albinos?’ It reported that many Albinos were flocking to the remote island in Lake Victoria, where killing them is rare.

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NEW HIGH COMMISSIONER

Ms Corner and Kikwete

Ms Corner presents her credentials to President Kikwete

Britain has a new High Commissioner in Dar es Salaam. She is Ms Diane Corner and is being accompanied by her husband and four children. Ms Corner has wide diplomatic experience in Africa. She has just finished a tour as Deputy High Commissioner in Sierra Leone, prior to which she held a similar position in Zimbabwe. The outgoing High Commissioner, Philip Parham, is being posted to New York as Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN.

At a very large Britain-Tanzanian Society reception at the Central Methodist Hall in London in honour of the departing and arriving High Commissioners, guests included Mrs Sarah Brown, the Prime Minister’s wife who had taken time to attend, even though she was hosting a dinner at No 10 later that evening (Mrs Brown is a member of the Society, as she spent her childhood years in Tanzania). Former British Home Secretary David Blunket MP and Shadow Minister of Health and Chair of parliament’s ‘All Party Group on Tanzania’ Stephen 0’Brien MP also attended as did the Tanzanian High Commissioner in London Mrs Mwanaidi Maajar.

Philip Parham, in his speech, said that existing good relations with Tanzania would continue in New York, as the alphabetical arrangement of seats in the Assembly meant that the UK and Tanzania always sit next to each other!

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COUP D'ETAT

COUPS IN MAURITANIA, GUINEA BISSAU AND MADAGASCAR
As parts of Africa seemed to be returning to the era of government change by coup d’etat, President Kikwete reiterated his strong objections, upholding the stand he has been taking during his one year as Chairman of the AU. He said he differed emphatically from the newly elected AU Chairman, Col. Muammar Gaddafi and the Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, who had presented a request that membership of Mauritania and Guinea Bissau be restored to the AU.

Kikwete spoke even more strongly against the coup in Madagascar. With the support of many heads of state and to widespread applause of other members at the UN Conference Centre Economic Committee for Africa (UNCC-ECA) in Addis Ababa, he requested his fellow leaders in Africa to be honest when discussing important issues about African development. President Wade had defended his call to allow military governments in AU, saying that the Guinea coup was being supported by the people. President Kikwete said: “It is very simple for the army to organise people into the streets and make them sing praises. You can do anything when you have a gun, and I know that because I was once in the army….If you want to become a President, first resign from the army, as I did” he said. – Guardian.

AND THE SUDAN
President Kikwete, together with other African heads of state has condemned the action of the International Criminal Court in indicting Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir for war crimes. Their fear is that arresting Al-Bashir could worsen the situation in Darfur.

However, former Tanzanian Foreign Minister Dr Asha Rose Migira, who is now the Deputy Secretary General of the UN in New York, does not agree. According to the East African she told the media in Dar es Salaam that the UN recognised and respected the decisions of the Court as a legally instituted authority. “President Al-Bashir must cooperate with the court” she said.

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TRAIN CRASH IN MPWAPWA

train crash mpwapwa

Injured passenger is attended to (Faraja Jube)

Seven people were killed in Mpwapwa district, Dodoma, when a passenger train travelling to Dar es Salaam from Kigoma rammed into a freight train that had stopped due to engine failure. Speaking at the scene of the accident, Infrastructure Development minister Shukuru Kawambwa blamed the crash on “sheer negligence”, and ordered the arrest of the drivers of the ill-fated trains and stationmasters in charge of the two stations.

The BBC later reported that Police suspect the train crash may have been caused deliberately so that petrol could be stolen from the fuel tanks. The accident took place between Gulwe and Igandu stations near the spot where two trains collided in 2002, killing 281 people in Africa’s worst rail disaster.

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THE NEW ‘CHOO MEN’

Of the 3 million people living in Dar, around 13% discharge their effluent into a sewer, another 13% have a septic tank and 74% rely on pit latrines. A “good” latrine is permanent, clean and with a porcelain bowl within a walled and roofed area. Such latrines, which are available only to the better off, cost around US$350. Others are more basic and vary in depth from 1 – 3 metres. The median number of users per latrine is 7 adults, which suggests that there are around 300,000 pit latrines in Dar.

Because the pit is of a fixed volume, it will inevitably fill up and need emptying – which costs up to US$80. Formal ways of doing this include draining into a parallel pit – this option is usually cheaper, but not effective for sludge removal, emptying manually (using a bucket) or sucking out with a vacuum tanker – although in the unplanned areas there is rarely vehicular access to latrines. Officially the responsibility of the landlord, few landlords are interested in paying for pit emptying and the reality is that it is often left to the tenants. As many lack the funds, or have other more immediate priorities, many resort to “flooding out” during periods of heavy rain – when the contents are simply allowed to spill out into the general (often open) drainage. Apart from many pits being full, where the water table is high or where the soil is sandy and walls collapse, sewage seeps into, and pollutes, the groundwater.

Health Hazard
These unsanitary conditions are reflected in high levels of oral-faecal transmitted diarrhoea diseases. The 2004 Demographic Health Survey found that 7% of children under five in Dar es Salaam had experienced diarrhoea in the two weeks prior to data collection and the Ministry of Health report that 60-80% of hospital admissions are due to sanitation-related diseases. Temeke Municipality report that 97% of out-patients attending health centres were suffering from sanitation-related diseases. Between 1998 and 2005 close to 7000 cases of cholera have been reported in the city (MoH 2006). Thus sanitation in Dar es Salaam remains a primary public health concern.

The Costs
As is often the case, the poorest pay most for basic services. Whilst those on mains sewers pay TShs 300 per m³ for complete disposal of their sewage (having paid nothing for the construction of the sewer lines), those with septic tanks and pit latrines pay TShs 1,000 and TShs 1,700 per m³ respectively just for the cost of dumping into the lagoons. Add in the cost of emptying and transporting to the lagoon (excluding the cost of building the tank/latrine in the first place) and the cost increases to TShs 7,500 per m³ for a tank and TShs 70,000 per m³ for a latrine! It is not surprising that most people find an easier way to dispose of the contents of their latrines.

Emptying and Transporting
There have been a number of attempts to empty the latrines and transport the contents to the lagoons. There are two quite different elements – emptying/sucking out and transporting. Transporting long distances should be done in large volumes, but equipment needs to be small to be able to manoeuvre in the small spaces between the houses. Most dual-purpose equipment has failed – perhaps good at sucking out but too slow on the road. However, a new approach has emerged – which separates extraction from transport – and builds on the way in which solid (household) waste is disposed. It was developed by Steven Sugden of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Water Aid, working with officials in Temeke Municipal Council.

the Gulper Dar-es-Salaan

Operators on their way to service a pit latrine (photo by John Meadley)

The Gulper
The Gulper – developed by Steven and a dairy farmer in Yorkshire – is a simple but effective piece of hand powered equipment that sucks the top 800 mm of sludge out of the latrine into (enclosed) buckets, which are hand carried to a waiting cart.

In the early 2000s, a new franchise system for the collection of solid waste was introduced into Dar. The franchisees were originally large companies with trucks, which tended to focus on the planned areas where collection was easier. In the unplanned areas the work has been done increasingly by individuals using the ubiquitous hand carts – which can carry up to 300kg of solid waste and which take the waste to collection points, from where it is transported to the landfill sites which are now located outside the city. By adding a plastic tank the conventional push cart can be converted into a small tanker to transport the sludge to the treatment lagoons. As there is clearly a limit to how far someone can push a cart weighing 300kg, the possibility of building a number of transfer tanks is being investigated – which can hold the sludge for 2-3 days until there is enough to justify emptying by vacuum tanker.

These are still early days. The gulper works well and is likely to be replaced by a modified and more efficient one. With the combined cost of a Gulper and a modified pushcart being around US$500, the cost of starting a small business is reasonably affordable. Charging TShs 18,000 for removing 300 litres of sludge, a two-man team can make a reasonable living emptying two latrines per day. The main constraints are people’s willingness to pay and the distance to the lagoons. The cost of emptying could be subsidised through a voucher scheme – why should the poorest pay most for the disposal of their waste? – whilst discussions continue with the local authorities. It is possible that in the coming years an increasing number of latrines will be emptied by small operators who both make a living for themselves and create a healthier environment. Ironically, the capital cost of providing enough gulpers, carts and transfer tanks to remove 300 litres from 30% of the latrines in Dar each year is less than US$300,000 – too small to interest most international donors!
John Meadley

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AN EXEMPLARY RELATIONSHIP

President Kikwete and President Hu Jintao

President Kikwete and President Hu Jintao


President Kikwete and President Hu Jintao on the occasion of the Chinese leader’s visit to Dar-es-Salaam in February 2009

Needless to say, considering the good relations that have existed between Tanzania and China for over 45 years, when President Hu Jintao planned his second visit to Africa, Tanzania, was on the itinerary – together with Senegal, Mali and Mauritius.

“Our relationship with Tanzania can be viewed as an exemplary relationship of sincerity, solidarity and cooperation” said President Hu. President Kikwete said Tanzania and China enjoyed a special relationship, which was initiated by the previous leaderships of both nations. The visitor was accorded a 21-gun salute before inspecting a guard of honour at the welcoming ceremony at the Karimjee Hall. A large number of Tanzanians greeted the Chinese leader by playing drums and trumpets, clapping their hands and waving flags.
Major streets of Dar es Salaam were also festooned with the national flags of both countries and banners that read ‘Welcome President Hu’ and ‘Long Live China-Tanzania Friendship.’ Some local people wore costumes and shirts featuring Hu’s picture.

In his speech President Hu said he appreciated Tanzania’s efforts to ensure the smooth relay of the Olympic torch when it was in Dar es Salaam last year (see TA 90) as well as its adherence to the ‘One-China’ policy. The Chinese President brought a $21.95million aid gift with him and said his government would invite young Tanzanians to visit China and would offer more scholarships. On the global financial crisis, he said China would keep its promise not to reduce aid to Africa – Guardian.

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COMIC RELIEF & THE APPRENTICE

Comic Relief Team

The Comic Relief Team

The Comic Relief team of pop-stars, DJs and television presenters including Chris Moyles, Ronan Keating, Gary Barlow, Wearne Cotton, Denise Van Orton, and Cheryl Cole who recently climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, raised some £1.6 million for the charity, which supports many causes including some in Tanzania. But, according to the Independent (March 13th) they needed an army of helpers to get them to the top. There were some 33 climbers, two doctors, 100 porters, and two runners plus a detachment of security guards. Half a ton of broadcasting equipment, several open-air latrines and an awful lot of soup also had to be carted up the mountain. Weather conditions, which saw temperatures reach 30°C by day and minus 15°C by night, meant that as they neared the summit, each of the climbers was swathed in four pairs of trousers, six fleece tops and a balaclava. They had to cope with 75 miles per hour winds and extreme cold. Thank you Elsbeth Court for sending this – Editor.

Mona Lewis

Mona Lewis, contestant in ‘The Apprentice’

The latest series of the very popular BBC TV programme ‘The Apprentice’ had a Tanzanian angle. Joseph Kilasara sent us this in mid-April when the contest was in full swing:
Mona Lewis, a former Tanzanian beauty queen is flying the Tanzanian flag sky-high in the award winning TV show now in its fifth run – “The Apprentice”. For three weeks running she has proven by a long mile to be a strong candidate for our next best Ambassador at large. One can only bet that her next date in Tanzania will be at Magogoni Street in Dar es Salaam for the country to say thank you for doing us proud.
Hailing from Arusha, Mona was born in Karachi, Pakistan and is now living in Sittingbourne, Kent. She was a runner up in the 1996 Miss Tanzania beauty Pageant. The ex-Natwest Customer Advisor is reportedly to be honest, self driven and with a positive attitude summed up in her own words; “Having the ability to drive a dead horse to the winning line”.

Sadly, in this show Tanzanians and friends in UK cannot vote to influence the one man as hard to play as Stradivarius – Sir Alan Sugar, but in Ms Lewis we have reason to be confident confident that she will stay long enough to hear the famous phrase: “You are hired”.

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SAVING THE BLACK RHINO

Robert Ochieng writing in the Sunday Observer in January said that a pregnant black rhino kept in the protective enclave of the Singita Grumeti Reserve in the Serengeti National Park gave hope of saving the black rhino, one of the world’s rare species from extinction. If it gave birth it would give new hope that the once zoo-bred rhinos can breed in the wild at levels high enough to keep the local population alive into the future. Besides cutting them off completely from human contact, the next most important thing that can be done is to protect their habitat so that they can breed easily and adapt to the wild nature.

Initially being fed on manufactured food products while at separate zoos in the UK before they were flown into the Singita Grumeti Reserve, the rhinos have now adapted to the wild vegetation.

South African investor Paul Tudor Jones was planning to purchase 45 rhinos from his country to be donated to the Tanzanian government. The Government had previously admitted that besides the current world economic crunch having significantly affected tourism in the country, poaching had continued to deal a devastating blow to the country’s highest foreign exchange earner.

Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Shamsa Mwangunga said: “What we have shown is that in partnership with governments and communities and business it is possible to stave off extinction for the rhino in some of its former range,” Africa’s savannas once teemed with more than a million white and black rhinos. However, relentless hunting by European settlers saw rhino numbers and distribution quickly decline. Added to hunting and habitat loss, trade in rhino horn peaked in the 1970s and 1980s, when huge quantities were shipped to the lucrative markets of the Middle East and Asia.

Responding to the crisis, both species of African rhino were listed in 1977 in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which prohibited all international trade of rhino parts and products.

Despite this international legal protection, the black rhino population at its lowest point dipped to 2,400 in 1995.

In 1997, there were 8,466 white rhinos and 2,599 black rhinos remaining in the wild. Today, there are 14,500 white rhinos and nearly 4,000 of the more endangered black rhinos.

Today, most of Africa’s black rhinos are found in South Africa, Namibia, Kenya and Zimbabwe, where the species’ decline has been stopped through effective security monitoring, better biological management, wildlife-based tourism and extensive assistance to enable communities to benefit from rather than be in conflict with wildlife.

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FLOGGING CONDEMNED

President Kikwete has terminated the appointment of the DC for Bukoba Rural, Albert Mnali, after he had ordered the flogging of 31 primary teachers. A statement issued by State House said that the DC had violated public service regulations and tarnished the image of the government.

Mnali instructed that the teachers be flogged after schools in his district got the worst results in the territorial primary examinations. He told reporters that many people had sent him messages of support but Deputy Minister for Education and Vocational Training Mwantumu Mahiza said Mnali should be sent for a ‘psychiatric check’.

Some local residents were quoted as saying that the DC had been right in flogging the teachers because the standard of teaching had deteriorated. They told reporters that, after the teachers had obtained bank loans, they virtually abandoned their classrooms. Some of the supporters even suggested that the DC should stand for election next year and they would campaign for him – Majira.

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MISCELLANY

FOREIGN FISHING BOAT CAUGHT
An agreement in July last year between Tanzania, South Africa, Kenya and Mozambique to step up the attack on illegal fishing boats has brought results. In March a trawler was found in Tanzanian waters with no proper documentation, flag or valid fishing permit. It had already caught some 70 tons of tuna. It had a crew comprising fifteen Chinese, three Kenyans, eight Philippinos, five Vietnamese and six Indonesians. President Kikwete commended the South African government for providing a modern surveillance ship to assist in the operation – Guardian.

DECI – PYRAMID SCHEME ?
The government has ordered the Development Entrepreneurship for Community Initiative (Deci) Tanzania to stop operations pending investigations as to whether it is operating a pyramid scheme. Deci, run by the Jesus Christ Deliverance Church, is understood to have been promising depositors up to 250 per cent interest on their deposits for periods ranging from three and 12 months, and may have links with a now defunct company in Kenya which is also under investigation.

HOTEL FIRE
A fire attributed to an electrical fault in a kitchen gutted three beach hotels – Paradise Holiday Resort, Livingstone Hotel and Oceanic Bay Hotel on March 23. Some 800 people depended on the hotels for their livelihood and one of the hotels was hosting four seminars involving 70 guests at the time. Fire fighters had to drive from Dar as there are no fire engines in Bagamoyo. While waiting for the engines some people were said to have been busy helping themselves to fridges, bedding and drinks.

LOANS TO STUDENTS
The Ministry of Education has revealed that the government is spending TShs 5 billion as loans to Tanzanian students studying abroad. The numbers are: China 255, India 158, Poland 64, Ukraine 86, Algeria 238, USA 4, UK 12, Uganda 594, Kenya 17, Cuba 25, South Africa 54 and Canada 4 – Guardian.

SCHOOL RESULTS
Girls secondary schools topped the list of ten leading schools for the second year running in last year’s Form Four examination results. St. Francis Girls’ Secondary School of Mbeya, which emerged number one in 2007, retained the position. Likewise Coast Region’s Marian Girls’ Secondary School remained at number two. 168, 420 (75.82%) out of 233, 848 candidates who sat for the exams passed. However, the pass level dropped by 10.13% from 85.95% in the previous year to 75.82 per cent.

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