Colourful display wins hearts showcasing efforts to reduce dependence on rain-fed agriculture by supporting craft and entrepreneurship
Eye-catching handmade leather products, including footballs and high fashion handbags on display, were integral to Tanzania winning ‘Best Market Stall’ at the Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA+) Regional event held in Kigali, Rwanda this week. With an emphasis on women taking on leadership roles, especially in income-generating activities, the items were made mainly by women and youth groups. The Regional Conference was represented by over 29 African countries, funded by the European Union, each demonstrating how communities are adapting to climate change and aiming to reduce poverty on the continent.
Thirty youth are benefitting from the creation of a leather factory near Tanzania’s capital, Dodoma in Idifu village, Chamwino District, and have been trained by EcoACT, an eco-village operating under the GCCA Tanzania project to deliver high-quality goods. Funded by the EU and the Ministry of Youth, Gender and Disabilities in Tanzania, the group was formed in 2008 and has been given the opportunity to travel to a large town in the north of the country (Mwanza) to learn from other leather- making professionals. Theyproduce mainly footballs, belts and shoes and have also received training on entrepreneurship and business skills from the organization SIDO.
“The EcoACT project is striving to reduce dependence on the use of rain-fed agriculture – as the community has been over dependent in the past and due to climate change it’s no longer viable”, said Dr. Francis Njau, EcoACT Project Manager, who added that this year some villagers did not manage to harvest anything due to drought, so engaging in other activities is a key to survival to earn money and to buy food. The project has now come to an end and the Institute of Rural Development and Planning (IRDP) in Dodoma City are working alongside the government to continue this vital work. So much so that climate change adaptation is being taken very seriously and is now in district budgets and plans.
My confidence has grown, and I am now able to contribute financially to my family. We produce commercially viable items, something that was unthinkable when we began the training. In the long-term we hope to get a regular income and are looking for markets within Tanzania as there is definitely a demand for our high-quality leather goods.
Other leather products featured on the stall at the Rwanda event were from ECOBOMA, in Arusha District, an eco-village project which focusses on supporting pastoralists to seek other earning streams other than livestock keeping. Their beautiful hand-crafted and dyed handbags are being sold all over Tanzania and are very popular due to their elegant designs.
Participants at the event included Dr. Mathew Mpanda, Natural Resources Officer from the European Union Delegation to Tanzania. When asked why he thought Tanzania had been voted first place by conference members he replied, “Our colourful stall including our poster setting out GCCA Tanzania’s objectives and positive impact, combined with a focus on communities taking it upon themselves to proactively adapt to climate change, which captured the attention of delegates present. But believe me it was close, at one point Rwanda was ahead but in the end we pipped them to the post by three votes”.
The GCCA Tanzania programme is part of the Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA+), a flagship initiative of the European Union helping the world's most vulnerable countries, mainly least developed countries (LDCs) and small islands developing states (SIDS) to increase their resilience to climate change.
The overall objective of the GCCA Tanzania programme is to support five projects in Tanzania to increase the capacity of vulnerable Tanzanian communities to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change and contribute to poverty reduction in rural areas. The programme consists of five eco-village projects implemented in different agro-ecological zones in the country. These include Eco ACT in Dodoma Region, ECOBOMA in Arusha Region, Community Forests Pemba in Zanzibar, Igunga Eco-Village in Tabora Region, and the Integrated Approaches to Climate Change Adaptation in East Usambara in Tanga Region.
The first GCCA programme was initiated in Tanzania in 2010-2013 to support the Government of Tanzania in strengthening the capacity of some of the most affected communities against the adverse impacts of climate change. The Second GCCA national initiative started in 2015 and has built on the results of the first phase to enhance environmental sustainability and food security by strengthening the management of natural resources at the local level (eco-villages). Essential to all projects have been to support new technologies and low cost culturally acceptable and gender-oriented solutions, and increasing the potential for scaling-up and replication.
This article was contributed by Joanna Martin, GCCA Tanzania, Visibility and Communications Expert.