Project location and activities

The project is based in two villages Mailista and Namwai.  Mailista, in the Kilimanjaro region, is well placed to serve the needs of the Mount Kilimanjaro tourist sector. It has good transport lines since it lies on the main road which runs between the key tourist towns of Moshi, the centre for climbing the mountain and Arusha, closest to Serengeti and Ngorogoro national parks. It’s seven miles from Moshi and 40 miles from Arusha.  Namwai is located higher up the mountain in West Kilimanjaro, 35 miles from Moshi and 45 miles from Arusha.

These two villages were chosen because their different locations result in different climate conditions, which means they can cultivate different varieties of horticultural produce for the hotels all year round. Namwai’s climate is colder than Mailista so they can provide such produce as onions, carrots and potatoes to the market in months when Mailista is too hot. The women have set up the WAMBOMA Co-operative: Women Farming for their Future. By working together they can ensure the Co-op supplies the quantity, quality and consistency of produce directly to hotels. WAMBOMA also has a shop and office in Moshi.

What we have achieved

Having identified and secured local partners for the project, Equality in Tourism held workshops to enable them to understand the value of tourism in their economy through backward linkages into their community. These included implementation and training partners, community leaders and hotels. Until this, few people in this heavily visited region had any idea of tourism’s potential to bring people out of poverty. Tourism operated in a bubble away from their work and lives.

Before Equality in Tourism’s programme, outlets for these women farmers’ produce were very competitive and limited. The women chosen for the project were the most marginalised and poor in their villages.  They lacked self-belief and had been unable to improve their livelihoods. They had never received any   training , although most had received primary education.  Their standing in their  communities has been very low. Their plots were small and under-productive. New farming techniques are critical because traditional methods had embedded   farmers in poor results and poverty. Not one woman kept any accounts. On average women earned less than £1 a day. None could save. 30 pence a week wasn’t even possible for many.

In just over two years we have trained 120 women in new farming techniques, farming as a business, entrepreneurship, their legal marital and land rights, women’s empowerment and co-op and micro-finance training.

Thirty women were chosen from each village to be trained and create the co-op, while the other 60 women received the same training but are control groups and are independent entrepreneurs. Each group is monitored so we can be open to identifying necessary change and best practice. Control group women can apply to join the co-operative.

The project is also tackling the governance and social norms that prevent women achieving their potential by undertaking a range of gender empowerment training and sensitisation dialogues at household, community and institutional levels.

The project’s women farmers work plots which average around half an acre. They have now formed the WAMBOMA Co-operative. Working on their own, the women don’t have the capacity to meet the market demand. However, with the WAMBOMA Co-operative: Women Farming for Their Future,  they are enabled to sell in bulk, transforming their lives and that of their families. They can see that their old methods of farming – scattering poor quality seeds over poorly prepared earth – have embedded them in poverty. Recent evaluation has highlighted that the women now have self-confidence, and have become proud. They, are new voices in their communities. They are consulted by their neighbours on farming issues, are saving and repaying for the first time and have used loans to build brick houses and start micro-enterprises. Now they can save up to £5 weekly in their micro-finance scheme. One has even been able to send her daughter to university to train as a teacher.

View from the hotels

The workshop we held for hotel managers enabled them to understand the value to the community of backward linkages. Thirty hotels have expressed interest in partnering and have allowed procurement audits. They recognise the market advantage of identifying the local provenance of their meals to their guests. We have discussed with them the possible creation of a partner logo to the project.