Friday, December 12, 2008



This paper discusses about participatory needs assessment which has been conducted at the shehia of Mtofaani. In this study, the author has provided the results of participatory needs assessment that contains information regarding the shehia of Mtofaani and Mtofaani Development Community (MDECO). The Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) was applied to conduct the participatory assessment. PRA was chosen due to its richness in a number of techniques that can be used to collect the required data or information. In addition, it was carried out in order to identify key stakeholders and establish an appropriate framework for their participation in the project to be jointly formulated/designed and ensure smooth implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. Further, PRA was used to serve as an effective means of facilitating shared decision-making and empowerment of communities, contributing to a shifting of power and control from outside interveners to the local people. The assessment was conducted through various techniques including;
i. community and social mapping,
ii. Pair wise and wealth ranking.
iii. Focused group discussions
iv. Interviews both structured, non and/ or semi structured
v. Transect walks
vi. Through the use of questionnaires
vii. Etc.
The study is intended to explore the suitable ways regarding community participation and involvement into various social and economic activities, which eventually will contribute in improving community’s socioeconomic and living standards. The area of focus is to increase community participation into socioeconomic programmes. The Vision of the Shehia is to ensure that, ‘The people are well served through provision of quality social and economic services’. To attain the Vision, the community requires to be mobilized so that they participate into various activities in the shehia. It is the purpose of the study to mobilize the community and play their active role in rehabilitating the feeder road. The proposal to rehabilitate the shehia’s main feeder road has emerged from a collaborative process and has been shaped by a broad range of informed perspectives. The CED participant apart from collaborating with the community and their local leaders, also, collaborated closely with the Commission for Roads Construction and Maintenances especially in designing the rehabilitation and the logical squence of works to be done


The main objectives of conducting participatory needs assessment include:
Identifying key characteristics of the community and their local leaders
Ø Assess the needs and demands of different groups within the community
Ø Learn about the community strength and weaknesses so as to be able to design an appropriate intervention for improving the situation.
Ø Identify current or on going initiatives implemented by the community within the shehia
Four types of assessments were conducted. Areas covered include:
Community, economic, environmental as well as health assessments.

During participatory assessment, amongst others, the researcher used both qualitative and quantitative research methods to collect the required information. A range of techniques were used to gather the information. Such techniques include; direct observation, interview, focus group discussions of 5 to 10 people per group were conducted and group members were given a specific issue in the are of community, health, environment or economy to brainstorm and come up with concrete argument on the matter. Qualitative method facilitated the extraction of valuable information regarding the core problem affecting Mtofaani residents. It helped to keep the researcher more focused on his research purpose. Also quantitative and library research(consulting available literatures) methods were applied in order to benefit from the strengths of the these methods. The decision to use both methods was due to lesson learnt from other researchers who combined both of them during their research works especially Davidson (1992) and Atlareb(1997)

As mentioned above, that the shehia of Mtofaani has five hamlets or sheha’s administrative zones. The five hamlets have a thousand households and having about five thousand four hundreds people. Because of resources constraints particularly time and funds, only fifteen (15)households that consisted almost about fifty respondents who were systematically selected as true representatives of the target population(Mtofaani community) under investigation. The sampling frame consisted of all Mtofaani residents. Because of time and other resource constraints or limitation, then the multi phase or multi stage-sampling method was employed. Each sample from the five hamlets was carefully studied. Two households (2) were selected from each hamlet and were carefully studied. These households consisted of five adults of both sexes

During the community assessment, focus was put on examining if there is volunteerism spirit, kinds of activities performed, sources of income, poverty level, causes of poverty, problems facing the community and which among them that requires urgent intervention and so forth. In addition, we tried to see how the decision making process is done, safety issues, comparison of living standards and costs with other areas. Also, we looked at the land use and housing status and assessed the level and availability of socio economic infrastructures that are needed to improve the welfare of the people.

The collected data/ information were processed and analyzed through SPSS, Ms.Project, and finally presented through tables, graphs, pie charts, etc

The local leadership should see the importance of wider involvement of community members in decision-making. Although agriculture is the mainstay of the economy in the shehia, the economy needs to be diversified and should encourage introduction of other sectors like trade.

Although, there is some sort of strong leadership, issues are not moving, as the majority would expect. There is lack of regular meetings between the leaders and the members of the community such that the community members have missed the opportunity where they could share their views. Decisions on matters affecting the entire community are not done in a participatory manner; it is the leader who decides on behalf of the majority.

Lack of regular feedback and wider involvement of the members of the community were reported as the sources of the stresses. Some of the members are nostalgic on the situation.

It was established that there is little involvement of the community on issues regarding their development issues. As you can see community, involvement is only fourteen(14) percent. On the other hand eighty six (86 percent) have complained that they were not fully involved. Lack of involvement of the community denies them on the opportunity to contribute their ideas and views on how community problems can be addressed. The communities are the masters of their own destine so no one can speak on their behalf(Iyeteku, Emmanuel(2005):Human Development Programs in Niger Delta. Also, poor community involvement may suggest that decision making process is top down. Meaning that, the community members are order takers.

During the economic assessment, examination or concentration was on the economic base of the shehia. We looked at the kinds of activities performed by the people throughout of the year. In addition, we focused on availability of enabling environment that can assist the people to engage on productive or business opportunities. The feeder roads within the shehia are on terrible conditions. The community cannot engage itself to rehabilitation activities due to chronic poverty where fifty percent of the residents are below poverty line(HBS 2004/05, MKUZA 2006). Hence required introduction of income generating activities which will help them to improve their economic status and be able to participate fully in their shehia development activities.
To understand the employment level, we were interested to know the employment level among the community members, as you can recall from the previous report that most of the people are peasants and the remaining are either self-employed or working in the private sector. In addition, we were eager to know the sources of income and how such income is spent and for what purposes. During our discussion and other conversations we had with the community, we wanted to know if members were able to operate any income-generating activities. In addition, we wanted to know if the community was able to access whatever kinds of loans whether soft or otherwise, so that they can utilize in establishment of economic ventures.

5.1 Methods Used
Survey method: This was employed to facilitate the understanding of the economic situation and related problems affecting the community. This included the field survey of important areas used by community to conduct business activities. The areas visited include the bricks making sites which are many as compared to other shehias in the Magharibi(West) district. Other places include petty trade areas and so forth.
Secondary data analysis: Particularly from MKUZA Coordination Office which has done several findings in collaboration with the Office of Chief Government Statistician and PAC Foundation which have conducted the participatory poverty assessment survey in 2003/04
Field Study and Transect walk: These methods were employed in order to have greater knowledge on the situation of poverty and unemployment status in the community and offered the on-the-spot learning and familiarization of the various issues affecting the economic status of the people.

5.2 Research Tools:
Various tools were used for data collection. Survey questionnaires were developed and distributed to the selected respondents. We used a sample of fifty (50) respondents due to time limitation but with true representation of the community under study. The copy of the questionnaire is appended herewith.
Semi – structured dialogue: This was used as one of the tool in participatory method. The intention was to allow deeper analysis of the underlying issues that were intended to be investigated.


It indicates that half of the active labour force are engaged on informal sector. Given the nature of the informal sector in most of the developing countries being poorly developed, it can be strongly concluded that most of the residents are poor and cannot afford make substantial contribution towards their development.

Ø Almost half of the members are under poverty line (spending less or an American dollar for a day!
Ø The community experiencing poor purchasing power due to poverty and most of their children attends government schools, which are poorly performing in the national examinations.
Ø Community members do not access attractive loans to assist them in their initiatives to fight poverty. Loans from credit financial institutions such as Self Revolving Fund, Changamoto, PRIDE or Poverty Africa are so small to have an impact to the community.
Ø Reasonable loans are not available due to unavailability or lack of collatoral.
Ø Rapid expansion has affected availability of open space where school or health and/ or solid waste disposal facilities can be constructed. Almost ninety (90) percent of the residents are self-employed into small petty businesses.

Ø Being closer to Zanzibar Town, community members can access unskilled employment and sustain their families, also have a great chance of recovring their initial start up capital.
Ø The activeness of Mtofaani Development Community (MDECO) inspires the community with new hope of success
Ø MDECO is in a right position to bring changes in the community due to the fact that, it is used as a think tank to the community.

Transect walk: To assess the environmental situation, the CED participant took a purposely walk across the shehia where he obtained the clear picture of the area.
Observation Method: This method was used based on the arguments propounded forward by Goode J.W and Paul K.(1989) that, science begins with observation and must ultimately return to observation for its final validation. So observation, contributed to clearly understanding of the environmental situation in the shehia. The research took note on the prevailing environmental conditions and had formal discussions with the community and local leaders to have their views regarding pertinent environmental issues. Through observation, the researcher investigated on how the environmental associated threats are happening and through joint discussion scrutinize on possible factors that can help to redress the trend.

Due to rapid expansion in settlement, there has been faster depletion of permanent trees especially coconut and clove trees that have been cut to pave areas for constructions of housing. Fertile land suitable for farming also has been occupied for construction of residential houses. On water, the community is very much been blessed as have five reliable sources of water where the government has constructed five water pumps which are supplying water to Urban district Unguja. On the other hand, ecosystem might be at risk due to faster depletion of permanent and artificial trees. In addition, lack of disposable facility for solid waste poses another danger as it can lead to air pollution and other unpredictable associated health diseases. The community calls upon their leaders to designate an official solid waste disposal facility to rescue health of the people and avoid air pollution.
In addition to these, other factors include:
Ø Poor construction of settlements has contributed to soil erosion across the shehia
Ø Shehia rural/ feeder roads have been seriously damaged by soil erosion due to lack of construction plan and permit
Ø Lack of official designated solid waste discharge facility
Human settlement has contributed to depletion of permanent trees

6.2.1 Environmental stress.
Ø Poverty is the main sources of environmental problems. The available statistics from MKUZA and OCGS revealed that 49 percent of the Zanzibaris live below the poverty line [MKUZA(2004) Annual Implementation Report, HBS 2004/05].
Ø Sand digging and rapid expansion on construction of settlements exacerbates environmental degradation
Ø Poor housing and land use planning has facilitated to unnecessary settlement expansion into agricultural fertile lands within the shehia
Ø The community needs environmental education in order to get rid of the negative consequences that are expected because of unsustainable use of natural resources. In this regard, arrangement for business settlement is very pre-requisite as an alternative source of income.

Ø Poverty is a hindering factor for the community to participate into environmental conservation and economic generating programmes.
Ø Lack of NGOs focusing on environmental issues
Ø Poor awareness on environmental conservation windows
Ø Ineffective campaign on community mobilization for environmental issue Depletion of permanent trees due to rapid expansion of unplanned settlement
Ø Lack of official designated solid waste disposal facility
Ø Rapid population increase is a cause of rapid expansion

7.2.3 Environmental Assets:
Ø The shehia is a rural based, afforestation is quite possible in this locality
Ø Presence of East African tall coconut tree
Ø Community leadership have to re-emphasize on replanting of the East African tall coconut trees
Ø Availability of open space for allocation of solid waste discharge facility

Health assessment was undertaken to identify the types and sources of health stresses in the shehia. In addition, the researcher was much interested to understand on the types of health facilities and their levels of competency in terms of services they offer if exists. To obtain the required information, the researcher opted into focus group discussion as an effective qualitative method for data collection. Group members were given specific topic to guide the discussion. Through such discussions, in-depth information on the topic was extracted. Groups of up to five to six participants were formed. They composed of both sexes, ordinary and elites so as to share their knowledge and facts. Other methods used include; the use of unstructured interviews. The issues investigated focused on the availability of health facilities, kinds of health services, distance travelled to the nearest facilities, any difficulties associated to health facilities and examining the qualities of services

Resource mapping exercise was done jointly between the community and the CED course participant. The main purpose was to demonstrate the various resource which are available in the shehia. Issues that were intended are socioeconomic infrastructures including roads, health( clinics, dispensaries, hospitals) facilities, and so forth. Through discussion, members were able to identify the classification of the facilities, I mean the nature of the facilities whether they are government or privately owned. Members, also, discussed the levels that is been first line, second or otherwise. Resource maps were used as baseline for future monitoring and evaluation of health facilities in the shehia.

8.2.2 Social mapping: Social maps in this particular exercise were used to find out the level of vulnerability among members due to either difficulties in accessing health services. The maps that were drawn contributed in provision of opportunities among the involved parties in understanding the readiness and willingness of the community members to ensuring the availability of health facilities within their locality.

8.2.3 Transect walk: This was applied to enable the researcher to walk around the area under investigation. The researcher had also an opportunity to meet various people and had conversation with them regarding his mission to the shehia. This tool facilitated to understanding clearly the area whether it has health facilities or not.

The shehia does not have any government owned health facility.
There two dispensaries which hardly can handle minor cases
The majority of the people are poor and are likely not able to afford the costs of health services.
The poor conditions of the feeder roads causes serious problems to move faster to competent health facilities in case of complications

Weak community leadership

Poverty hinders community contribution to development activities in the shehia.
Lack of solid waste disposal facility is also a menace to shehia residents, especially during rain seasons where eruptions of cholera and other water borne diseases are frequently reported.
There is rapid influx of rural people. This trend puts it in a high risk of spread of STIs/STDs due to increasing number of prostitutes ( Mtofaani shehia local leaders,2007).

· There are two privately owned health facilities (dispensaries).
· In case of health related problems, patients gets medical consultations at the Welezo military based health facility.
· Mnazi Mmoja General hospital, can be accessed easily if you compare with other shehias which are located far from Zanzibar Town.

Pair wise problem ranking was applied to identify the critical problem that needed urgent intervention.

Out of the above problem, rehabilitation of the main feeder road the one, which bisects the shehia, requires urgent attention to rehabilitate it. Second into profile that required attention, include provision of social facilities such as health and education, and income generating programs .After conducting the participatory assessments as discussed above, it was noted that, members of the community and the entire residents were willing to participate into their shehia development activities. However, poverty was a hindering factor. So, the community proposed to have an income generating kind of a project through rehabilitation of the shehia main feeder road.

The above-mentioned problems were reported to occur due to a number of factors, poverty being one of the main causes. Poverty has frustrated all community initiatives that is why the community does not have the required infrastructures especially social and economic infrastructures. Other factors reported include; weak leadership, poor advocacy and mobilization strategy. The communities were available to participate into development issues but were not well mobilized

Generally, the assessment has illustrated the multifaceted socio-economic problem facing the shehia of Mtofaani community members The above discussion reveals the fact that, the area of intervention is economically handcaped due to poor transportation infrastructure. Fully implementation of the proposed project shall contribute in improving the economic situation and welfare of the community.Currently, most of the community members are not completely satisfied with their local economy. Some want more job opportunities or income growth for that will sustain them and mitigate the scornge of poverty. The project will have positive impact as it will benefit half of the entire residents especially women, children/ youth. On the other hand, it will help them to plan carefullly concerning their environment and quality of life and the economic growth has to reflect those concerns.

The problems identified need joint efforts by different stakeholders, to organize the existing resources and see how best the resources can be utilized to solve the problems.

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