One of the most gratifying aspects of Karimu’s work in rural Tanzania is the longterm commitment to that work made by so many of our volunteers. After traveling to Dareda Kati Village to meet its people and see with their own eyes the results of Karimu’s work, they choose to stay involved.
For Jacqueline Rose, a volunteer this past August, involvement has taken the form of collaborative research with three fellow students in her Agroecology and Watershed Management class, offered by the Environmental Studies Department at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Jacqueline and Nima Khalily, Melissa Rhoads, and Parker Welch have written a paper, unpublished so far, which they hope could lead to a research grant.
If their “Solutions for a Healthier Watershed and Safe Drinking Water” does bring in funding for Jacqueline—and perhaps Tiffany Wise-West, a 2010 Karimu volunteer—to return to Dareda Kati for additional study, the villagers could reap huge benefits. Jacqueline and Tiffany probed Dareda Kati’s watershed, and the villagers’ uses of it, carefully during their ten-day visits. But the brevity of the visits frustrated them and they knew they could have accomplished much more during longer stays.
Without even trying to do full justice to the work by Jacqueline and her colleagues, I’ve included excerpts from one key section below:
“While the international development agencies potential for providing assistance may seem greater than a small-scale NGO’s, often that is not the reality. . . According to [the World Bank’s] website, ‘support for rural water is now channeled through national planning,’ which they claim helps to localize decision-making to ensure that the appropriate resources are devoted to appropriate projects. . . The reality is that international planning and bureaucracy can fall victim to uncertainty, poor resource allocation, and misappropriation of funds. . .”
Jacqueline and her colleagues admit that the World Bank worked with Babati District officials to “pipe water from the Endala River to a holding tank that feeds an irrigation flume” and that the “tank also supplies piped, untreated drinking water to Ufani School and Ayalagaya Village.” However, the residents of the village “claim the project was never completed and that another mile of irrigation was planned.” Furthermore, the “community did not give any indication of direct participation in the project.”
In contrast, Karimu’s small-NGO “model of aid emphasizes community-led adaptive planning through direct communication and relationship building, and creates change by localizing to the extreme. Funding goes directly to the village, point to point. Without the overarching goal of development and international trade to interfere with directly stated community requests, the projects that are most important to the villagers are given priority.”
I’ll end there because it gives me the chance to point out that the “projects that are most important to the villagers are given priority” precisely by you who continue to donate so generously to Karimu—for which the villagers and I thank you.—Don Stoll