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Resilient Landscapes for Resilient Communities – Tanzania

This project assists communities on the Tanzanian island of Pemba become model eco-villages. “Resilient Landscapes for Resilient Communities” helps settlements on the island of Pemba get land, improve farming methods, reforest nearby areas, and implement sustainable technologies. Its alternative energy micro-grid improves lives while creating a model for cheap and efficient low-carbon electricity.

Fast facts:

  • 12,000 people in six villages targeted
  • 100 women trained in building efficient stoves
  • Built first primary school in village of Kokata, integrating sustainable technologies

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The problem

Lush hills on the island of Pemba have been extensively farmed, including large clove plantations from past eras. This agricultural history has left the legacy of land degradation that local communities struggle with today.

The island remains largely undeveloped. Its isolation and lack of access to outside resources make communities there – especially along the island’s eastern coral rag zone and isolated islets off the coast – particularly vulnerable to climate change.

The solution

This project has implemented a number of measures toward transforming Pemba’s villages into exemplary eco-villages. It has worked for communities to gain the titles to degraded government-owned land; it has trained women on how to produce and sell efficient clay cook stoves; it helps link beekeepers to local markets for honey; it has reforested land and implemented permaculture activities like rainwater harvesting. The initiative helped build the village of Kokata’s first primary school, which includes an integrated rainwater catchment system.

Establishment of an alternative energy micro-grid forms the centerpiece of the initiative. Each household is given a motorcycle battery and an efficient LED light bulb. A central charging station lights the school, pumps and filters harvested rainwater, charges cell phones, and charges the motorcycle batteries that are distributed to each household. Households then have light in the evenings and early mornings, with batteries typically lasting a week before needing charge.

Helping the planet

The project’s numerous aspects provide many environmental rewards. Restoring forests helps the land and water while sequestering carbon; efficient cook stoves reduce the demand for firewood, as does producing charcoal briquettes from recycled biomass. Improved agricultural practices and permaculture efforts also help preserve natural resources.

Helping people

The quality of life, particularly for women, has gone up due to increased income, greater food security, and more fuel saved while cooking. The garden plots around the community houses are fertile with compost and produce fresh vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals. The micro-grid has enabled people in the communities to charge cell phones locally and light their homes. The fuel-efficient cook stoves and briquettes have grown into income-generating activities. Furthermore rainwater harvesting provides a cheap, clean, and local water source.

Spillover effect

Many of the efforts are low- to no-cost. Communities outside of the project sites have already requested and received assistance, for example to reforest their degraded land. Another organization is already seeking to replicate this system in other Pemba villages. Attaining success allows the project to continue innovating.

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