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Building capacity of communities on creating and preserving Charco dams and using them for Drip Farming Technology on their farms
The project has demonstrated effectiveness of  interventions involving communities and civil society organizations as field partners. The partnership has now expanded to include Local Government and private sector networks in Kishapu and Kahama Districts. The project has also attracted the attention of donors and other NGOs in the country and as a result, Oxfam has contributed mobile sanitation facilities including mobile latrines to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases during floods.
Shinyanga Region has a tropical wet and dry or savanna climate with an  average  temperature of 23.34ºC which is -0.88% lower than Tanzania’s average. Shinyanga typically receives about 225.82 millimeters of precipitation and has about 232.46 rainy days in a year . According to the 2012 population and housing census, the district is projected to host 272,990 people (135,269 male and 137,721 female).

Relief to Development Society (REDESO) - a non governmental organization and member of Tanzania Nile Discourse Forum (TNDF), has been working with smallholder farmers in Kishapu since 2018 ,facilitating and supporting community responses to the extreme events of floods and drought through participatory research and promoting of promising practices at farm level to ensure food security.
Traditionally, local communities in Kishapu used to grow maize, beans and rice as the main food crops while cotton being the only cash crop.

Sudden flooding and prolonged drought have been threats to local livelihoods, forcing some households to migrate to other regions. REDESO is promoting adaptation to floods and drought through a Disaster Risk Reduction approach which includes popularizing crop diversification and integrated water resource management strategies.
Flood mitigation strategies include deep soil excavation to increase water absorption and neighbourhood charco dams. Drought mitigation strategies include the supply of drip irrigation tools and distribution of planting materials for drought resistant crops particularly cassava , sorghum and pumpkins as food crops and sisal as an additional cash crop.

A mobile toilet made by REDESO to help victims during floods timesThe project started working with 21 groups and has currently scaled up to 95 groups (54 for women and 41 for youths).
Following the successes demonstrated through the project, the Local Government has come on board and has so far constructed 3 warehouses for storage of planting materials and contingency food stock.
The project has also attracted the attention of donors and other NGOs in the country . In 2021, Oxfam partnered with REDESO to replicate the project in Kahama District within Shinyanga Region. Oxfam has contributed mobile sanitation facilities including mobile latrines to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases during floods.


Success Stories:

A mobile toilet designed and made by REDESO in effort to help victims during floods timesThe project initiated by REDESO has demonstrated effectiveness of  interventions involving communities and civil society organizations as field partners. The partnership has now expanded to include Local Government and private sector networks in Kishapu and Kahama Districts.

Private sector networks in the two districts have supported the construction of more warehouses for day to day business which has gradually developed these places as marketing centres. The warehouses are gradually being stocked with general merchandise for the benefit of locals.

During an exchange learning visit organised by TNDF for women and youth groups to the project area, Mahuna Shigele, a resident of Kiloleli in Kishapu District, narrated:
“The Disaster Risk Reduction project is our baby. It was initiated through experiment and dialogue between villagers and REDESO. Our experts started documenting and sharing the century-old practices for flood and drought mitigation, blending them with modern science. The results are incredible. Kishapu and Kahama District Councils are now partners in the project  increasing extension and advisory support , with corporate sector contributing to infrastructural development .We do not consider floods as a threat any more, we can store the excess water and use it for drip irrigation during prolonged drought. Families are no longer thinking of migration since we have the right adaptive strategies.”


Challenges:

Preparedness is key in flood and drought mitigation, lowering the risks of loss of lives and properties. With the increasing uncertainties in the timing of the floods and drought, there is a call for establishment of an Early Warning System through collaboration with Tanzania Meteorological Agency. The system will be useful in alerting communities ahead of critical seasonal periods when floods are likely to set in. REDESO has started distributing mobile phones to Ward Disaster Committees as an initial step for information sharing in the districts. It is hoped that Tanzania Meteorological Agency will respond quickly and join the partnership for flood and drought mitigation in Shinyanga Region.


Conclusion:

The Disaster Risk Reduction initiative by REDESO is an excellent example of taming flood water for irrigation alongside other drought mitigation strategies. With climate change compounding the challenge of food insecurity in many areas of North Western Tanzania,TNDF and REDESO will use the lessons from Kishapu for advocating towards increased support to participatory flood and drought mitigation as well as establishment of early warning systems that are embedded into community governance structures


Author:
Hadija Malimusi,
National Technical Support Expert - Tanzania NDF


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