David Cho conducting an interview in Kokota, Pemba
Hello! My name is David Cho and am currently an undergraduate student of Boston College, situated in the city of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Over the past 3 months, I have been studying on Zanzibar and Pemba Island for a study abroad program through an external organization called School for International Training. This past month was dedicated to exploring an individual and specific topic, researching about said topic, and writing a final report about our findings. I was given the privilege to work with a particular NGO, Community Forests Pemba (CFP), a partner organization of Community Forests International. My project was entitled, “Rainwater harvesting – How effective is Community Forests Pemba in addressing the water conservation issues on Uvinje and Kokota Islands, Pemba?”
By conducting several interviews on both Uvinje and Kokota Island, I was able to assess the level of satisfaction that the residents had towards CFP. I was able to determine the prominent strengths and weaknesses of the organization to encourage growth in effectiveness for their future projects. My findings also affirmed that the NGO was doing an incredibly effective job at addressing the problems of water scarcity on the islands; the interviewees identified common strong points of the CFP staff. Some of the results include the following information:
The responses from the interviews suggested that CFP was regarded as helpful, efficient, and promising NGO. There were no direct criticisms toward the organization. 90% of the interviewed locals mentioned that their biggest issue of water retrieval was the process of retrieval itself. The forty locals interviewed elucidated that the gathered water was used for basic and fundamentally necessary services like drinking, cooking, and washing. In the same vein all forty respondents agreed that CFP was doing an extremely great job in providing water assistance to the islands.
Additionally, there were several specific strengths that could be identified, such as: 1. CFP’s strong relations to the impacted communities, 2. The organization’s consistent desire to implement self-sustaining systems and projects, 3. The diverse makeup of the CFP management team, and 4. the NGO’s ability to properly assess their own level of satisfaction. However, due to limited amount of space, I will discuss the first strength of CFP – their strong relationship to the communities.
The most prominent strength of CFP is the staff members’ profound relationship with the locals on Uvinje and Kokota. These connections were not made by mere one-time visits, but fostered over long periods of service and commitment to the people. Mbarouk Mussa Omar, the Executive Director of CFP, described three specific ways in which the organization fosters their relationship with the locals. First, he explained that the NGO provides awareness of environmental significant, conservation methods, farming efficiency, and many other techniques coupled with Islamic ethics. By providing insight from the Qur’an and weaving he teachings of Mohammed into the value of effectively utilizing available resources, Mbarouk explained this method made it much easier for the Muslim communities to understand and implement. Second, CFP officials work with the communities rather than standing off to the side and watching things progress. Mbarouk and the team physically goes out to the work sites and help build tanks, till the soil, and plant the forest seeds; CFP members not only accompany the local workers with their time, but also with their own hands and feet. The third method that CFP utilized to cultivate cooperating was following up wit the projects on the islands. After first initiating the projects in the communities, CFP spent considerable time monitoring the project’s progress. The fact that the staff members traveled back to the islands as frequently as they did helped nurture strong relationships.
These strengths were observed over the several weeks I was situated on Pemba Island. My experiences led me to believe in the power of NGOs like CFP in assisting the communities. Evidence from interviews and personal findings demonstrate that there is hope for those who are in need of basic necessities like water because of altruistic accomplishments made by CFP. Essentially, people need organizations like CFP that have been verified to positively impact communities by directly addressing issues of water conservation via rainwater harvesting techniques and systems.
Overall, the experiences here in Tanzania have been incredible. Working with the CFP team has significantly contributed to my studies and experiences in East Africa. I hope to return and see how CFP has progressed over the years.
-David Cho. Boston College ’14. email@example.com