What Happens When Communities Take Responsibility: The Story of DIMATA

DIMATA (Dira ya Maendeleo Tanzania) is a CSO in Mvomero Morogoro that aims to engage the community in identifying its challenges, causes and effects, and to find solutions through resources that are available in the community. With this mission, last year DIMATA implemented a Social Accountability Monitoring project in Education that was funded by Foundation for Civil Society.

It was observed before the project that several projects started in schools within Mvomero District were not seen to fruition and therefore there wasn’t much progress seen in these schools. DIMATA set to intervene by training the surrounding villages on the importance of their participation, and established monitoring committees in 6 wards of Mvomero District: Mlali, Mgeta, Langali, Lubungo, Melela and Msongozi. Their intervention led to significant progress in schools belonging to the 12 villages of these wards that benefited from the project.

Take for example Kinyenze Primary School in Mlali Ward where the community had contributed to build two classes with the hope that the government will roof the classes and complete the finishing. Unfortunately the government had not come through on their part and so the buildings stayed there for long without being used by students. DIMATA’s intervention was to convince the villagers to take ownership of the school and give meaning to the work they had already done in building the two classes. The villagers came together to roof and finish the two classrooms which are now being used

That momentum was carried on and they built one extra class and are on their way to completing a teacher’s house. Ms Grace Lukazi, the Assistant Head Teacher, admits that they previously had issues mobilizing the community that was hung up on the “Free Education” policy and were therefore not willing to contribute. However, DIMATA’s intervention helped them overcome that. Every citizen was able to contribute 50 bricks and TZS 2000 in building these classes. Some citizens also used their manpower in building the classes, making the classes a pure result of community effort.

Another school that benefited from the intervention was Lugono Primary School, also in Mlali Ward. Lugono’s challenge was a result of a misuse of community funds by the Head Teacher. Villagers had been contributing to build classes, however, before the goal was achieved, the Head Teacher at the time, used the funds for personal issues. This discouraged the villagers and made it hard for the school committee and village leadership to mobilize them for any other contribution.

DIMATA’s intervention was to train the villagers on the importance of not quitting the process because that would only affect their children. They coordinated with the District Education Officer for disciplinary action on the Head Teacher, and had him pay the sum of TZS 830,000 in installments. After the community saw that the Head Teacher was paying the money and there was transparency in the process, they began contributing once again and were able to build two new classes. They plan to complete two other classes and an office by September 2018. Alongside that they also contributed bricks and sacks of cement so they could build a teachers house. Over 4500 bricks and 25 sacks of cement were already collected from the community by the end of the project.

The Lugono community also got creative and tapped on the various farmers that have agriculture projects around their area, Telecom companies installing network towers and other institutions with branches in Lugono, asking them to contribute to the community in which they have invested assets. Through their effort in involving these stakeholders, they have secured 2 classrooms from St Agnes School that they can use for lower classes: standard 1 and 2.

DIMATA’s intervention in establishing Social Accountability and mobilizing the community around these projects led to similar fruitions in 10 other villages where their project was implemented, and funded by Foundation for Civil Society. This, again, demonstrates the power of Civil Society and citizens in bringing about development when they come together and take responsibility.

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