Tanzania held its first democratic elections in 1995, creating a mandate, and new opportunities, for altering that country’s basic political and economic institutions. But the transition to democracy in Tanzania faces difficult challenges – many grounded in the failed “villagization” programs of the 1970s and the abolition of elected district and town councils in 1972.
To strengthen democracy in Tanzania, the U.S. Government embarked on an ambitious initiative to build civil society’s institutional capacity to participate in public affairs and assist the government in seeing civil society as a productive partner. The primary focus of these U.S. Government-sponsored programs has been to strengthen the capacity and credibility of non-governmental organizations.
For such institutions to be effective, there must be a vibrant civic society in local communities. Therefore, what is needed to strengthen civic society in Tanzania are initiatives that strengthen the ability of individual citizens to participate in their own governance through coordinated and cooperative efforts. One such intervention is what CELD calls the Community Partnership Grant (CPG) programs.
CPG programs provide the financial and organizational infrastructure to support citizen-initiated neighborhood projects. Small groups of citizen are the the prime movers in initiating proposals, organizing work plans, competing for small grants, and then carrying out the plan. In this way, citizens begin to make working connections among each other and with municipal officials. These linkages form important building blocks of a strong civil society.
Another central element of CPG programs is that citizens and other stakeholders in the community govern them. Typically, a board is composed of representatives from the funding sources, the municipal authority, and the community. They establish the by-laws and procedures through which the program operates, as well as determining which citizen initiated proposals are funded. In this way, citizens have a direct stake in the program and are therefore more likely to respect the grant decisions.
In October 2002, Dr. Charles Adams, Professor Emeritus in the School of Public Policy and Management at Ohio State University, work-shopped the CPG concept in various communities in Tanzania, including a 2-day workshop in Tanga. Immediately following the workshop, the citizens of Tanga organized themselves into an oversight board for purposes of exploring the possibility of creating a CPG program in Tanga. The members of the Tanga CPG Board came from the general citizenry and did not represent the municipality or any formal government structure. The Tanga CPG Board reflected broad diversity in terms of gender and religion – the community includes both Christians and Muslims.
CELD provided funding for 4 neighborhood pilot CPG projects. They include:
The Jitambue Daycare Nursery School Project
This project helped 6 women volunteers construct a playground on the school grounds benefiting the 30 children attending the daycare center. CELD funds were used to purchase materials for the playground while the women volunteered their time to construct the playground. The people in the neighborhood work to keep the nursery school open by volunteering at the school and by providing small contributions. They pay a small amount to get porridge for the children to eat, and the parents of each child make a contribution to help pay for the teacher. The teachers make small crafts and food products to help support themselves and the school.
The Ngunumali Area Environmental Project
Twelve men and women volunteers cleared out and dug roadside ditches and planted trees. This project eliminated standing water, which was a breeding ground for mosquitoes. All the local workers were volunteers while CELD, in partnership with the municipal health department, provided small shovels, rakes, and hoes.
The Pongwe Area Elder Care Project
Eight women volunteers were taking care of ten to fifteen old people who did not have family in the community to take care of them. The volunteers engaged in small projects to help support this elder care project, i.e., they raised chickens, pigs, and cared for a large garden. They supplied all the elderly with some maize, beans, and a bar of soap each week. There was an urgent need to have a reliable and constant water supply at the elder center. There was water in the area from Tanga, but to hook the water to the elder center cost about $120. The CPG program provided the funds for the water hook up. The water was then used to irrigate the gardens so they could ensure continual crops for the people and for drinking water.
The Raskazone Women’s Group Environmental Project
The Razkazone Women’s Group was a group of about 30 women (mostly business and professional women) who worked on projects to improve their community and provide help for each other. They also assisted people in the community who needed help. One of their programs was a tree-planting project. They have planted trees and cleaned up some of the community’s streets. They needed some tools such as hoses to keep the trees alive during the dry season. The CPG project provided funding for the hoses and other tools to support the women in their tree-planting efforts.
The CPG pilot projects being conducted in Tanzania had a number of programmatic benefits including:
Women cleaning out ditches in Tanzania