Residents of 21 villages in southeastern Tanzania are seeing an improvement in their health and livelihood as a result of a five-year, $3.32 million program funded by the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) and the Canadian International Development Assistance (CIDA).
People now have better access to drugs and other medical supplies, children are getting much-needed vaccines, and women are benefitting from training on best farming practices, said Geoffrey Monjesa, PWRDF partner and development officer for the Anglican diocese of Masasi.
And soon, women and children won’t have to walk 5-6 hours each day to fetch water from open ponds, said Monjesa. As part of the program, about 30 new wells will be installed and eight others refurbished, which will help about 11,000 households.
The program has also enabled the church to fulfill its work of helping people “spiritually and physically,” said Monjesa.
Monjesa briefed PWRDF about the progress of the program during a visit to the national church office in Toronto last Oct. 25. The program, which focuses on health, water, and food, is designed to benefit 155,093 direct beneficiaries in the villages of Masasi and Nachingwea.
Aside from providing medical supplies to existing dispensaries (clinics) run by government, the program also supports mobile clinics that provides community HIV-AIDS education, testing, and care of patients living with HIV, and treatment and prevention of malaria.
As a result of these clinics, about 18,000 people, who have previously shied away from visiting hospitals for fear of being stigmatized, have been tested for HIV-AIDS, explained Zaida Bastos, program coordinator for PWRDF. This is significant progress since HIV-AIDS prevalence is high in Masasi and Nachingwea: 30% compared with the national average of 11 to 15%, she added.
The program has also made it possible to hire 54 community health workers, who promote good health habits among villagers through basic health awareness and education.
In terms of food and livelihood, the program provides seeds to improve the local production of staple foods such as maize, ground nuts and cassava. In addition, it asks farmers to contribute 20 per cent of the seeds from their harvest to the community’s seed bank to help others who can’t afford to buy seeds, said Monjesa.