Completion and evaluation of the use of science in improving livehoods of Maasai women in Ololosukwan ward, Loliondo district, Arusha.
By Joel Samuel – National Commission for UNESCO The project which was sponsored by UNESCO and the supervised by the National commission for UNESCO Tanzania was completed last year. However the team of experts from National Commission of UNESCO and Science Technology and Innovation for Tanzanian Women (STI4WT) went to Ololosokwani Loliondo to visit the Maasai community to evaluate the completion of project and also to determine the social impact of the project. The objective of the Ololosokwani project was to improve use application of natural science to improve the livelihood of the maasai community, through creation of awareness and involving the community in various learning activities to increase their entrepreneurship skills. Therefore at initial stage the community set down with delegation from UNESCO and National commission to identify areas that disturbs them most in their daily lives. It was learned during that discussion that Women in the community are the most vulnerable in the hostile environment. They needed better working environments especially the houses they live in which have no enough space to work on because of the limited space. The houses also have no ventilation and enough light for free and comfortable life. And also they do not get enough from the milk they produced and hence they needed skills to process and store the milk commercially. In responding to the situation and the request, two houses were designed and built by the Tanzania Women Architects for Humanity (TAWAH) in collaboration with the communities to provide hand on skills and also milk handling skills were provided to the Maasai. During the whole process the cultural aspect were taken into consideration for the purposes of creating new attitudes towards gender related issues. The implementation of the projects was therefore done in two phases i) building two model modified houses and ii) training milk handling process with associated entrepreneurship skills. To assess the achievements of the projects, the evaluation team visited Ololosokwan ward and coordinated discussion with various members of the community. The team had enough time to discuss with various members of the community including men, women and some leaders of the Ololosokwan ward. Through asking planned and prompt questions the team could asses
2 thoroughly the impact of the two projects. That was also accompanied by visiting the sites and see how the houses are being used and environmental impact of the projects.
Two pictures showing the old Maasai boma and improved Maasai boma by TAWAH on the right. Picture by courtesy of Science, Technology and Innovation for Women in Tanzania (STI4WT ). During the evaluation the following were noted as signs of improvement after the end of projects. The space inside the house was big enough to meet requirements of leaving together members of the families, their guests, and little animals like calves and goats. The houses have good ventilation provided by well-designed windows and chimney made from local materials. Lights in the houses were natural from sun lights reflection on the water bottle attached to the roof or a more modified type of house uses solar power with batteries that can store power and provide enough light up to the time they will go to sleep. The community was happy with the leak proof tops of the house that will allow comfortable of the houses in all season. The houses are now accommodate more members of the family and keep the girls in safe custody of their mothers as there is more space for them than before. Another important aspect of the house is that during the hand on training with community it evolved both men and women together against what used be a trend that houses are being building by women only. On other handing also those who participated in house building are now helping others to build their houses on special arrangement which also generates income for the house building experts. As the Modified boma
3 last longer that old version of houses, women are now have more time to do other productive works and hence increases their income. Other important aspect of the new houses it decrease unnecessary tree cuts and hence it serves environments. Training of milk handling skills produced very pleasant outcomes. The most important is paradigm shift that milk was only for food to new one of considering milk as cash product. The new attitude is that milk can be stored and be used as cash products by selling it in various forms. The training on milk handling enabled participants to know various equipment used in milk quality testing and storage both local and modern equipment. They also learned on how to clean and sterilize the milk products. The training as provided skills on how to increase longevity of the milk products and to make different milk products like cheese ghee and yoghurts for the purpose of increasing milk value to harness more money for improving life. The evaluation team noted that the training created a general thirsty to learn among Maasai community as they have found opportunity to grow and change their lives for better. The evaluation team found some aspect that needs to be address to improve the livelihood of the community. Though it was planned to build the houses using local and cheap materials but it was noted that some of the materials used in building the houses are not locally found and some cash may be required to get them. This challenge is being worked upon and we hope that we will designed new houses that do not require such materials. Water availability is still a problem to majority of the inhabitants of ololosokwan. This prompts creation of mechanism to harvest rain water in their new houses. Future plan is to ensure skills received is well distributed to all and the village surrounding the ololosokwan wards. The projects can be extended to the used of the manure produced by cattle as sources of sustainable green energy like biogas for cooking and lightening. The project can also be used to reduce school truants’ and drops out as will make science subject more interesting and productive. There is also a need to have environmental protection knowledge and skills. In ensuring sustainable application of what has been learned it is important to create a mechanism of visiting the place to encourage rollout of the skills and come out with new projects to synergize what have been learned and achieved so far.