A Participatory Tool That’s Helping Tanzanian Communities to Address Climate Change Risks and Enjoy a Lasting Smile

The village of Ibongoya B, located in the Misungwi District of the Mwanza region in Tanzania, is facing numerous challenges resulting from climate change. This area’s main economic activities are agriculture and pastoralism, but the crops are withering, houses are being damaged, and farms are being destroyed by water, as well as removal of house roofs. Initially, this society had little knowledge about the causes of these impacts. Community members were not actively participating in identifying and evaluating methods to deal with those impacts.

Figure 1 Ibongoya B community members and leaders during the endorsement of the adaptation action plan

To address these issues, the Mwanza Rural Housing Programme Organization (MRHP) in collaboration with Bread for the World (BftW) organization of Germany is implementing a project to help the villagers identify and deal with the impacts of climate change. MRHP is among the 11 BftW Partner Organizations (PO’s) that are being backstopped by Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) in understanding the PACDR tool. The project uses a Participatory Assessment of Climate and Disaster Risks (PACDR) tool that allows the communities raise awareness, assess their climate change and disaster risks and to develop adaptation strategies.

After facilitation of PACDR tool, communities become more aware of the climate change concept and actively involved in identifying hazards, to prioritize hazards, challenges posed by climate change and their ability to respond to these challenges and to develop the strategies necessary to respond effectively to the hazards.

Figure 2 A group of women from Ibongoya B during the facilitation of the PACDR tool

As part of the PACDR backstopping, SAT worked with MRHP staff and field officers on:

  • Reviewing the facilitation work which was done earlier at the community level and identifying existing gaps
  • General overview of the PACDR tool
  • Practical skills in facilitation of the PACDR tool based on the identifying gaps
  • Facilitation skills package.

The outcome of this backstopping was that:

  • Work plan for the facilitation of the remaining modules was developed
  • Activities in the action plan which merge with project activities were identified and harmonized
  • Climate change knowledge obtained by MRHP staff has improved their confidence in facilitating the PACDR tool in project areas.

MRHP were able to facilitate the community members of Ibongoya B with the PACDR tool in raising and finding solutions to their climate change challenges by themselves and in collaboration with other stakeholders. The community members now realize the power they have in dealing with the impacts of climate change hazards. The tool has facilitated community members to prioritize hazards, and evaluate coping methods and strategies based on the resources available in their village.

The project has helped the community to prepare a five-year adaptation action plan on how to deal with the impacts of the three major hazards of strong winds, droughts, and floods that affect their lives the most. The adaptation action plan specifies the responsibilities of individuals and society as a whole in dealing with these impacts. After starting the implementation of the adaptation action plan, community members have seen the opportunity for income-generating activities, such as the establishment of tree nurseries and the sale of seedlings.

Two groups with 52 members have already established nurseries of wood and fruits trees with the aim of distributing it to fellow villagers and others to sell it within the village. This will enable them to find employment (income source) in the near future, improve their lives and increase their resilience to the impacts of climate change hazards.

The Ibongoya B case shows that community engagement can be an effective way to tackle climate change. By engaging the community using the PACDR tool, the organization has been able to raise awareness and promote sustainable practices, while also developing a comprehensive climate adaptation action plan that is tailored to the specific needs of the village. This approach not only helped mitigate the impacts of climate change but also, it’s helping improve the community’s overall quality of life.

Figure 3 Community member presenting adaptation strategies for climate change hazards impacts

The key players in this project are the Mwanza Rural Housing Programme Organization (MRHP) and Bread for the World (BftW) organization of Germany. These organizations have collaborated to implement the project and provide the necessary resources and support to make it a success.

Figure 4 Group of men from Ibongoya B community preparing community resources and hazards maps

In conclusion, this project has had a significant impact on the community of Ibongoya B, since the community members have been empowered to act and find solutions to the impacts of climate change hazards. PACDR tool has facilitated the community to be actively involved in identifying and evaluating methods to deal with these challenges.

The Project is kindly supported by Bread for the World