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End of Year Greetings from the Envaya Team

Seasons’ greetings to all our partners, fellow NGO’s and supporters. It is finally the end of another year and we would like to take a moment to reflect on the achievements and challenges of the year 2012.

This year has marked two consecutive years of Envaya here in Tanzania. Within this time we have become Tanzania’s biggest network for NGO’s and CBO’s, with over 1,100 NGOs throughout Tanzania and some in Rwanda, most of which are within rural areas. The growth of Envaya has been organic and self-propagating, as Ngo’s have found it easy to build their own website with Envaya’s user friendly software. Through word of mouth and seminars, about a quarter of all Ngo’s within Tanzania are now using Envaya

This year we have undertaken various projects to enhance the usability of the Envaya website, we have held seminars and also mobilized our team into visiting Ngo’s in their respective offices all over Dar es Salaam.

The Envaya team has worked hard to make the Envaya website more interactive with its public. We have introduced various new features to this effect; like the Envaya News Story which we try to update every two to three weeks. So far we have done various articles that are aimed to informing, advising and inciting discussion within the Ngo community and the general public. We have covered a range of varying topics such as The 2012 National Census, the culture of Volunteerism, Vaccination Week and tips for fundraising and networking for Ngos. In all this, various Ngo’s have given their views, comments and ideas on the issues discussed. 

In addition to this, we added a Volunteer Page, which allows Ngo’s to connect to potential volunteers within and outside the country. The aim of this is to bridge the gap between volunteers and Ngo’s in need of young talent.  At the moment there are about 90 volunteer posts on the Envaya Volunteer Tab. We have also added a Featured News column where we highlight the latest updates from Ngo’s on the Envaya Home Page.

Outside the office, the Envaya team has mobilized itself to visit Ngo’s in their respective offices throughout Dar es Salaam to promote our SMS platform. This platform allows members of Envaya to publish news, amongst other things, using any phone through simple SMS texts.

The greatest challenge as always is encouraging more updates from Ngo’s with inactive websites. We are hoping that with time every Ngo will understand the importance of websites, social media and how it can greatly improve their work. We will continue confronting this barrier as start another year.

This has definitely been a year of progress for Envaya and hopefully for our partners and member NGO’s too. We would like to hear from you too, how has Envaya impacted your work this year? How can we better our services to you and how can you encourage other Ngo’s in the use of social media and the use of their free Envaya website? Share your stories and leave us a comments below.

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year 2013! 

Networking and Fundraising Tips for CBOs and NGOs

What makes your Organization a credible NGO? One that's worth funding, respected by the general public and recognized by the government? Here are a few things you may already know, but take for granted, or maybe you just keep putting them off for another day.

In Tanzania, the work of NGOs is coordinated and monitored under the Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children which is found in Kivukoni. This is also where you can register your NGO, for free, and get a certificate to carry out your work as a charity. The Umbrella body that oversees and coordinates NGOs in Tanzania is called the National Non-Governmental Organizations Council (NACONGO) and has been operative for 8years. Are you a member? Have you ever been in touch with them? The principles of regulation and coordination of NGOs by the Government of Tanzania is covered in the NGO Act, 2002.

In Rwanda the registration of NGO's is under theRwanda Governance Board (RGB). Their websitewww.rgb.rw contains a list of the various requirements that an NGO needs to be registered in Rwanda. Among the requirements areDocumentsshowing the Organizations head office and its full address and anAction Plan for thefiscal year.

According to a research carried out by REPOA (Special Paper 07.21), about 60% of funding for NGOs in Tanzania comes from foreign donors and international NGOs. Funding is one of the most important and sometimes stressful aspects of the work of NGOs. Learning effective fundraising mechanisms is very important for NGO's.

The default position that many NGOs take is to find the contacts of potential funders and write long proposals about their desperate needs for funding. This route is not always successful and can even make your NGO lose credibility or even make the members of the NGO lose confidence in their goal, because of all the rejection.

NGOs should understand and be aware that organizations that fund want to know that a CBO or NGO is credible before they will even reply to their funding request.

One way to build credibility is through networking. Establish both formal and informal relationships with local NGOs and representatives of international NGOs, local government representatives etc. Building good relations with such actors will give your NGO credibility when potential donors ask about the work of your NGO. Also if any funding or opportunities arise, these actors will remember your NGO and most likelyrefer your NGO immediately.

The purpose of networking is not to ask for funds directly, but instead to establish your NGOs reputation for serving the community with excellence. The purpose of networking is to create a network of organizations and people who will verify to others that your NGO is legitimate and worth supporting.

Another tactic to effectively network, is being part of formal or informal networks or associations of NGOs within your region or country. Associations or networks of NGOs are like NACNGO, Tango, FCS, Envaya, etc. If you are not part of any NGO network, then you are missing out on possible opportunities.

Your online presence is beyond essential. Imagine, you have sent your proposal to a potential donor and they decide to google the name of your NGO and nothing turns up! Or they see your NGO website but it has no current updates, no projects or pictures or recent discussions. What do you expect them to do? Does it look credible on your part? Obviously not. Your Website is like the face of your NGO representing all that you stand for and what you represent in your community. Envaya has provided you with free web space use it. Dont take it for granted. Constantly update your projects and plans, contact details and let them be known to the world.

Lastly, instead of waiting on external funding, NGO's can take it into their own hands to fund-raise for a cause or a particular project. Fundraising can take on many different faces; from selling of old books and clothes to creating events that people can attend. One of the most recent events in Dar es Salaam, was the charity football competition between bongo movie starts versus bongo flavor stars. This apparently raised about 100M for a charity they were supporting.

Now, you do not need movie stars for your projects. You can easily create events within your neighborhood or drama skits that you can invite your ward to watch and contribute to your cause. Fund raising requires initiative and creativity. Find out what people enjoy, is it sport events? Then set up a tent with a TV that people can pay 500tsh to watch football. Is it possible to organize an event for young people with music and games for a small charge? Then do it.

A recent fundraising example from Rwanda is the Kigali Institute of Science and Techonology (KIST) Students Community. These students carried out a music Concert, using their skills and talentsto help raise funds to build safe girl hostels toaccommodateand encourage more female students in the Technology Institute.The fundraising concert was attended by invitedguests, students and Rwanda musicians and celebrities. The concert raised about 821,000Rwandan Francs or 2 MillionTanzanianshillings. The simple concert was headed by the students themselves. It is possible for NGO's to self fund themselves at times instead of always waiting for a grant. In fact, it makes your NGO look more credible because it shows you are passionate about serving the community and not simply receiving donor funds.

Do you have any tips or facts to share with community based organizations? Have you ever carried out a successful fundraising campaign? Let us know how it went, the challenges and lessons learnt. Leave your comment below.


Tanzania’s fourth national census since independence started on August 26. The exercise is carried out every decade and it is an essential part of national development and establishing the number of Tanzanians in the soul of national development planning. The Population and Housing Census yields information that provides crucial raw material for facilitating planning covering economic growth, health service delivery, social welfare improvement, agricultural development, education sector promotion, infrastructure upgrading, investments, and other important areas. It also smoothens the task of deciding how resources should be best allocated.

However, the census has not received universal support. Tanzanians wake up to the knocks of survey takers going from house to house asking “Who slept here last night?” Before the government started to carry out this exercise we heard several members of the community threatening to boycott enumerators, and civilians, religious leaders and village chairmen in various parts of the country demanding not to participate in the census exercise.

In order to evaluate opinions of the census’ implementation among Tanzania’s civil society organizations, Envaya team surveyed several CSO’s, including AWITA, BRIGHTY DESTINY TANZANIA, KINONDONI NETWORK OF PEOPLE WIH HIV, TANZANIA SCIENCE JOURNALIST ASSOCIATION, and WAYETA. The survey was in the form of questionnaires and we interviewed people from all the CSO’s mentioned to know their opinion on the implementation of the 2012 census.

One interviewee who asked to stay anonymous complained that the government did not provide enough awareness for this process. Most Tanzanian citizens are unaware of the meaning and the purpose of being counted, he said, and if civilians were well educated on this matter, all these demonstrations would not happen. He also asked “Have we not been prepared for this occasion for the past decade? How come we have logistical problems regarding timely delivery of the necessary materials, awareness raising and payment of allowances?If we have failed to plan properly to ensure that we get gold-standard outcomes from the census exercise, how sure are we that the results will be put to effective use in the bigger picture of national planning?  Had we planned exhaustively for this crucial exercise, would news about these shortcomings be coming up now?”

The interviewee also said that everyone involved in this exercise should play their role in ensuring that we get it right the first time, but that now is not the time for posturing or issuing threats.

Some people perceive the week-long exercise as meaningless, while others acknowledge that it is important, but feel that it is not a top priority issue. They would rather have the resources committed to the census invested in areas they consider more pressing. Yet others dismiss it as a periodic formality that only serves to show that Tanzania’s population is increasing, as if bigger numbers were something to be proud of.

A woman from AWITA said “some people co-operated in facilitating the census success, but either don’t see and feel the benefits, or are beneficiaries who aren’t adequately briefed on the link between the two.” In addition to that, they are updated on how the population grows as the years go by, but, either don’t witness changes in sectors like infrastructure that should be visible and public knowledge, or information on such issues is lacking, or doesn’t flow properly and effectively.

As the authorities announce that the national population and housing census recorded 80 per cent success, the team learnt that in some suburbs there were misunderstandings between the enumerators and the local government leaders. Furthermore, there are cases when local area government leaders, appointed to accompany the enumerators, abandoned the exercise claiming they were not paid allowances.

The houses where the census exercise is completed were marked with a tick. However, a person from Bright Destiny Tanzania (BDT) said that in Manzese most houses were not marked to show they were not visited by the enumerators. Also enumerators found doors of some houses were locked with padlocks to show the occupants were away and there were no signs of children playing around. Some enumerators were chased away by larger knives and bats, and also the enumerators found difficulties introducing themselves to home owners who were apparently concerned with the lack of distinctive uniform. According to the interviewee, lack of uniforms, identity cards, hats, reflectors and bags, identifiable gear and reflective jackets were confusing the people and made them uncooperative.

Most respondents that were interviewed said that the issue of boycotting was caused by lack of census education, and if the government would raise awareness to the citizens on the benefits of census no one would boycott to be counted. A common opinion was that the government should not punish those who boycotted because it is the government’s fault that they did not provide education to them.

Also, interviewees said that there should be an effective involvement of local leaders in the exercise; because enumerators were not native to the areas, therefore many households provided unreliable information to the enumerators due to taboo and norms. The enumerators should be native to the areas and known by most of people over there and be accompanied by indigenous local leaders in order to collect the most reliable information.

One interviewee insisted that “Census plays an important role in laying the foundations of the country’s development, if  the government will be giving the census feedback to the citizens we will support the government on this and we’ll distancing ourselves from whoever that doesn't  want to be counted.”

One interviewee said, “We see that Muslims have been threatening to boycott the national population and housing census over religious issues. Therefore I advise all religious leaders to educate their followers on the importance of census in any country instead of encouraging them to boycott, because religious leaders are very powerful and influential to their believers.”

The general feeling within the communities we have interviewed is that they need to know more about the importance of a Census count every decade and receive feedback after the census has been conducted so that they can be satisfied with the outcome of the Census. Over the course of the census week we have seen commercials on television and heard them on radio about how important this exercise is. Various local shows have covered this topic and slowly we have come to see what benefits we receive from this census. However it is still not enough, we need more information. Unfortunately some have come to realize a little too late after refusing to be counted. It is up to us as leaders of small and big CSO's and NGO's to demand this information for our community and educate our communities on this exercise and not be too scared to ask the government to provide seminars to educate small and large CSO's and NGO's so we can then educate our communities.

Participate in our discussion about the census by adding a comment below!

Involvement of CSOs in abandoning harmful cultural practices in Tanzania

Tanzania is a country that is extremely rich in traditions and culture, well known to treasure its heritage and pride in cultural practices. Tanzania is a harmonious culture that’s mostly based on a subtle but strong social code of respect and courtesy. The official language in Tanzania is Swahili, although many people speak English. Tanzanian people are known to be extremely friendly and polite.

However, there is a growing awareness in Tanzania of the harm which certain cultural practices have on children, adolescents and women. This awareness is reflected in the emergence of NGOs and CSOs formed to campaign for the abolition of cultural practices that harm women and children.

Organizations that easily come to mind in spearheading these initiatives are TAMWA, WAMA, AFRICAN UPENDO GROUP, TAWA and TUNAWEZA WOMEN GROUP which address violence against women. TGNT and SWAAT combat gender discrimination and women's cultural vulnerability to HIV/AIDS respectively.  KULEANA which is tackling corporal punishment for children and TANZANIA ALBINO SOCIETY which advocates against Albino killings -- the list goes on!

Many tribes in Tanzania practice widow inheritance where by widowers may “marry” a sister of their deceased wife-ostensibly to take care of her sister’s children who are also regarded as her own children as well. While there may be no negotiations or free choice on the part of the sister who is to wed her brother in law, quite often the alternative to being inherited is destitution, which, as you can imagine can be hazardous for the woman. There are also many health risks, as her husband may have been infected with HIV, or other STDs in which case she may also be infected.

Another known harmful cultural practice in Tanzania is Female Genital Mutilation.  A few regions in Tanzania conduct FGM for the express reason that it controls female sexuality and therefore reduces chances of promiscuity. FGM is a big reproductive health risk for women, it  interferes with a woman's ability to enjoy sex, and worse, the woman may end up with fistula during childbirth as FGM scars may tear away, resulting in a massive hemorrhage which may also be fatal. In Tanzania, FGM is practiced by ten or more ethnic groups out of the country, with more than 130 ethnic groups, hence even campaigns to stop such practices are often seen by those who practice them as ethnocentric and insensitive to their cherished values and norms by outsiders.

In the past 5 years there has been an increase of Albino Killings in Tanzania. The killings are associated with illogical thinking, like witchcraft, seeking wealth quickly, politics, racism etc. The eradication of such killings has been a very difficult and complicated process. The absence of witchcraft law does not help the situation at all, and lack of government readiness in increasing awareness on racism in our culture also contributes greatly in these killings. However, in recent years, efforts have been seen on implement such laws, and Tanzanians have shown a need to move quickly on this law to protect all albinos and give them their basic right to live freely amongst society.

Early marriage. Girls are still traditionally discriminated against, and some as young as 11 years are withdrawn from school to be married off. There is an increase of girls who drop out of primary school because some are raised in the belief that they should be married at a very young age to elevate their families from poverty and have a good life for themselves. This leads to early pregnancies causing a list of health issues for young girls. This is also not good for the development of our country because instead of educating women so they can educate their families and be leaders in the development of the country we subject them to bear children too early depriving our country of well educated powerful women in key decision making roles in our society.

Sexual harassment can also be a problem caused by harmful cultural practices in communities. In some communities in Tanzania women are viewed as objects, and its not uncommon for them to be subjected to different kinds of sexual harassment whether it be verbal or physical abuse. NGOs like the one we mentioned above, now work on letting women know about their rights and create awareness within the community about the affects of sexual harassment, and also educating society on what sexual harassment is.

Harmful cultural practices also contribute in Attendance of Men to Clinic. Most cultures in Tanzania don’t encourage  men to visit  a clinic for sexual health, as it is seen as a big taboo. The fact that clinics are dominated by female staff and patients doesn't help men feel secure enough to attend a clinic.  Our culture also does not encourage men to attend clinics with their spouse for the same reason, fear of appearing weak and the general cultural understanding.

Surprisingly, hundreds of elderly women are killed every year, not because they have been legally convicted of performing witchcraft acts, but because some traditional healer has instigated the execution by convincing communities that elderly women with red eyes are all witches. Most of the elderly women with red eyes are killed mainly around Lake Zone, people fail to understand that women with red eyes are the victims of indoor pollution; they cook daily on wood stoves and inhales amounts of poisonous gas. Due to scarcity of fuel wood, sometimes cow dung is used as an alternative to firewood. Use of low quality biomass fuels like cow dung causes indoor pollution which is a hazard reflected in eyes turning red.

There are many harmful cultural practices in Tanzania that threaten the development of our society. With the help of various NGOs, society is now being educated on the affect of some cultural practices on the growth of our country and many of these practices have seized to exist in some communities due to these efforts. We congratulate all NGOs that have spearheaded these initiatives and encourage others to follow their example.

Volunteerism in East Africa

The basic concept of Volunteering is not foreign to any individual, it is simply giving of your time, abilities, knowledge and services for the good of the community in large, without expecting any reward or compensation. Volunteering is one of the main ways that common citizens get involved in a vision to build their community.

There has been a huge emphasis over the years of how Africans should reclaim their own development and recline from dependency on foreign agencies. On a macro level this might mean cutting down on foreign aid or imports, but on a micro level this definitely means Africans themselves should be more involved and responsible for their respective nation’s development.  Volunteering in social initiatives is a great way of being part of a small but significant part of a nation’s development. A great example is the famous Wangari Maathai, who started off with a handful of women planting trees in rural Kenya, which has now become a Pan- African movement to save our environment.

Apart from the feeling of self satisfaction and accomplishment in serving their nation, volunteers gain relevant skills and experience that will be beneficial for future employment opportunities. It is common knowledge that employers look for work experience in potential candidates. A lot of unemployed youth complain that they have no experience but volunteering is a perfect and convenient way to solve this problem.  

In Tanzania, the culture of volunteerism is not very developed. It is very rare that one would give of their time and resources to join a social initiative that pays little or nothing. There could be various reasons for this. One of which could be the the lack of an integrated community service system in the education curriculum of Tanzania. The national education system of some countries in the West require a certain amount of community service hours to be fulfilled by a student in order to pass. In Tanzania the education revolves around theory. Only at the University Level is a student required to carry out practical training for at least two months and even in this the student expects to be paid.

Another problem could simply be the lack of easily available information from both the Ngos and the potential volunteer. It is hard for a potential volunteer to give their service if they are not aware of the need. There are many international volunteer agencies like Cross Cultural Solutions or International Volunteer HQ that allocate volunteer opportunities to people all over the world and the only reason they thrive is because of how easily accessible their information is through the internet. The dissemination of such information in Tanzania about volunteer opportunities is very limited and practically non-existent for small civil society organizations that can not afford to advertise on newspapers.

The goal of Envaya has always been to solve this problem of information dissemination for small NGOs, and in this we have now launched a new Volunteering Page where NGOs can post their need of volunteers. This page will reach out to young people, university students, the unemployed and those who are ready and willing to make a positive difference. We want spearhead a movement to get Tanzanians and East Africans involved in their own development. By creating a space for both social initiatives and volunteers to interact, we aim to bridge this gap within the community.

What do you think about the concept of volunteerism, and its challenges? Have you posted up your volunteer positions yet? Feel free to give us feedback on the Envaya Volunteer Page. Leave your comment below. 

Vaccination Week in Tanzania

This week is Vaccination Week  in Tanzania, which commenced on 23rd April and will end on  28th April. Nationally this event was held in Mwanza City Northern part of Tanzania under the theme “A  child that is not immunized is one too many. Give polio the final push”. The theme draws attention to the urgent need for accelerated actions to save children from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Actually, this is the opportunity for gender based Civil Society Organizations in disseminating the information about the importance of vaccination. NGO’s like ANPPCAN, AACD, Children Care Development Organization and the like which work directly with households, can do a lot in raising awareness on the value and importance of vaccinations. They can mobilize human, financial, material resources and implement a variety of activities aimed at improving child survival and primary health care interventions.

The challenge is to make the government of Tanzania creditable for progress in stimulating political commitment and mobilizing of community based organizations (CBO’s), as well as financial and technical resources to save the lives of children from measles, polio and other vaccine- preventable diseases. The Envaya team is extending its profound gratitude to CSO’s/CBO’s, development partners and other Member States for their collaborative efforts in this regard.

However, despite the progress made by the government of Tanzania, much still remains to be done in some regions upcountry. There are still many children who are not immunized, prone to infection and unless urgent action is taken, the transmission of vaccine-preventable diseases particularly polio will not be reduced. Therefore the government should directly involve these Civil Society Organizations in providing health education especially in remote areas, and spreading information to people in a wide range.

We ask you “Has your NGO participated or endorsed any efforts in this regard?”....Please participate in this discussion using the comments section below.

Envaya is a Semifinalist for the 2012 Echoing Green Fellowship! Very excited and honored: ht.ly/8OK1C

The 2012 Echoing Green Semifinalists | Echoing Green
There are 3,508 reasons why we have great hope for a better world. This is the number of applications Echoing Green received for our 2012 Fellowships. We congratulate every single applicant for taking on the world's biggest problems with their bold, innovative solutions.
Envaya Envaya

@envaya is a Semifinalist for the 2012 Echoing Green Fellowship! Very excited and honored: http://t.co/0HPCUqWz #EG2012Fellowship