Health & Nutrition

Nursery Nutrition and Health, Zanzibar

By January 29, 2016 May 6th, 2019 No Comments
Along with other partner NGOs, African Impact Foundation contributes to the funds needed to cover the costs of providing the children with porridge each morning, as well as teaching about dental hygiene. 
For the past five years, African Impact volunteers have been supporting the staff of local nursery schools in Jambiani by teaching English, reading, writing, art and sports to +/- 200 children each day. In addition, The African Impact Foundation helps to provide breakfast porridge for the children attending two of the schools.

In Zanzibar, nursery school attendance is compulsory for a child to be accepted into primary school. However, all of the local nursery schools are community-run and do not receive any funding from the Department of Education. All financial support comes from the children’s families, The African Impact Foundation and other Non-Governmental Organisations.

The children pay monthly school fees of 1000 Tanzanian Shillings (TSH). They also carry sticks to school every morning, which are used as firewood for cooking a big dish of porridge that day.

Along with other partner NGOs, we contribute to the funds needed to cover the costs of providing the children with porridge each morning. However, food and fuel prices in Zanzibar are continually increasing and the donations do not cover all of the costs.

Short Term Impact: Trying to teach a class of 4-7 year old children who haven’t had anything to eat since 5pm the night before is extremely difficult. The children become tired and listless, lose concentration very easily and will not retain much from their lessons if they have not been fed. Supporting the nursery school feeding project will ensure that the children receive porridge every morning at school, meaning that both their health and capacity for learning will improve.

Long Term Impact: We would like to add to the feeding program and supply the schools with seasonal, locally grown fruit and vegetables to supplement the children’s daily nutritional intake. This could be anything from small sweet bananas to half a mango or even avocados. Although supplying fruit would actually be higher in cost than the porridge, by purchasing the fruit from local farms we would be generating income for the village economy, encouraging people to farm their own sustainable food stuffs and adding much needed nutrition to the children’s diet. An even more sustainable long-term goal is for the schools to tend to their own vegetable and fruit gardens in a community garden, allowing them to harvest their own fresh organic fruits and vegetables, reducing the cost of the nutritional program to only supplementing shortfalls and occasionally porridge as well as the cost of seedlings and maintaining the garden.

Jambiani is a rural village on the East Coast of Zanzibar Island. Around 6000 people live here with a recent increase of births in the past four years. The road is the centre of activity and stretches about 3 miles, north to south. All along the road you will encounter small children, ducks, cows, goats, chickens and more small children.
The unemployment rate in Jambiani is extremely high. Most people live at subsistence level in large, extended families. The economic activities in the village include fishing from small boats, subsistence farming in limestone plots, seaweed farming and tourism. Most employment is seasonal and the socio-economic situation in the village can be described as depressed.

Education is regarded as the key factor that will help the next generation to better their prospects and at the same time assist the older generation who are unable to further their socio-economic development. To this end, any person who shows academic ability is helped by their extended family to further their studies. The local government school has an enrollment of almost 1300 students from Standard 1 (7 years old) to Form 4 (17 years old). Due to the fact that the language of instruction is English, many students fail the government exams and have to drop out of school. On average, less than 20% of the students pass their government exams. Those that continue past Form 4 must travel to Stone Town to continue their schooling and many families cannot afford the travel and meal expenses. In 2012 over 100 students in Jambiani sat their Standard 7 exams and less than 2% passed. The remaining students, who are aged 13-15 years, will leave school with no leaving certificate and having to work to support their families for little or no pay. Job opportunities are very limited.

Seaweed farmers, who are predominantly women, earn 10-20 cents per dried kilo of seaweed, which gives them an annual income of between $12 and $60 (USD) per year. If they have small children, they pay $6 per year for nursery care. The women work six to eight hours in the seaweed plantations and usually cannot sell their seaweed for three months per year due to a world-wide glut on the market. However, they must still continue to plant, harvest and dry the seaweed as they do not know when sales will start to come in again.

Fishermen rarely venture outside the reef and therefore catch only small reef fish, octopus and squid, which they sell at the local market to those who can afford it. What they don’t sell they use to feed their own families.
Subsistence farming provides cassava, coconuts, papayas, limes and spinach for the families’ consumption. Most other food items must be bought with what little money the family can scrape together. This difficult lifestyle affects families’ diets and health negatively.

There has only been limited development of natural and human resources in Zanzibar, which has lagged behind that of the mainland. Zanzibar – known internationally as the Spice Island – has a rich cultural heritage and is set within a physical environment of considerable natural beauty. Zanzibar’s island setting provides a wonderful contrast to the mainland, which is known for its wildlife parks. There has been a significant amount of investment from Europe and South Africa in hotel development, but unfortunately without sufficient complementary development in the indigenous tourism sector.

Rural communities – especially young people – are increasingly excluded from the benefits of tourism. Rural youth drawn by the ‘glamour’ of tourism realistically have very little chance of benefiting formally and are forsaking education for casual, menial labour in hotels. Work tends to be casual and seasonal, leading to a further increase in the numbers of disaffected young people. Although concern has been expressed and the problem acknowledged little action has been taken to improve the educational and employment opportunities for rural people. It is the hope of The African Impact Foundation that we will be able to play a part in educating and assisting the people of Jambiani village.

The Foundation supports four local nursery schools in the Jambiani, Zanzibar area as we believe Early Childhood Development is key to a successful and developing learner.

  • 2017: We introduced the Washy Washy, Scrub Scrub programme with the aim to practice proper hygiene, including brushing teeth and washing hands which will help reduce the issues of stomach infections and the spread of these, as well as teeth decay.
  • 2018: Funds went towards every single child receiving their own new toothbrush and toothpaste every term, where they also practice daily how to brush their teeth and wash their hands. Additionally, the Foundation supports these schools with a daily porridge programme so the students start their day with full stomachs, ready to learn.
  • 2019: We divided the Nursery Education fund into three different pillars which will focus on health and wellbeing, teaching resources and support, and renovation and construction.