March 17, 2017

Challenges faced by the Mtae womens' group

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The current women’s group in Mtae has not been a happy experience. After two years support, they are currently not producing yoghurt. Nor apparently are they motivated to get back together. We are now in the process of approaching the village executive committee to ask them if a new group of women would make sense. Or, if that is not possible, we will ask for the equipment back and accept the reality of failure.

Mtae farmers were the first to form themselves into a cooperative. To support this move towards communal cooperation, about 18 months ago, we helped them set up a shop that sold medication for cows. After supplying the initial stock, the farmers were to run the business independently. They were to buy the medications at wholesale prices and thus be able to on-sell cheaper to the advantage of all farmers. We offered our office as a venue from which the shop could operate and we paid the wages of the seller of the medication. Recently, after resolving a few issues, we agreed to top up the supplies to full strength. 

The one development that first needed to take place was for the farmers themselves to find and pay for someone to work in the shop. They found a woman to do this but thought that it was OK to pay her an hourly wage that was one quarter of what we ourselves had paid the original seller. They were mistaken. 

Everything came to a stop. We have explained that we do not believe it is fair to pay someone an obviously exploitative wage and, if they wish for our support, they must pay a living wage. Clearly, they would not have offered a man such a low wage. Women deserve to be paid fairly too! Discussions continue. These changes are a learning process for everyone involved and hopefully we are all enriched by the conversations that ensue. 

Meeting with the farmers in a Mtae village school classroom. At such meetings, the women remain  observant but, for the most part, silent. We do, however, meet regularly with the women’s groups in the absence of the men.
‍Meeting with the farmers in a Mtae village school classroom. At such meetings, the women remain observant but, for the most part, silent. We do, however, meet regularly with the women’s groups in the absence of the men. 

2017 update

Completed:

  • Provided timber for the new Primary School roof (March 2017)
  • Vaccination of 110 dogs against rabies (April 2017)

Under consideration in partnership the Peace Corps volunteer are the following projects:

  • Provide tin for roof of Primary School
  • Investigate how best to bring water to the village - most likely with a water pump
  • Complete the building of the Primary School
  • Renovate the village cattle dip
  • Renovate the village watering station for livestock
  • Connect electricity to the health centre.
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