In 2008, the Tanzanian Partnership Program selected two pilot communities in Tanzania based on need, local capacity, community interest, and partner experience in the region—Milola in the south and Naitolia in the north of the country.
Milola is located in Lindi Rural District, approximately 60 kilometers from Lindi town. The village has population of approximately 8,000 people. Most families are agriculturalist who grow sesame for cash and rice and maize for food. Despite access to fertile land, agricultural production is low given a lack of appropriate technology, few agricultural inputs, and limited market access. Not surprisingly, the majority of families live below the poverty line.
In 2008, there was one preschool, two primary schools, and one secondary school in Milola. The secondary school serves seven villages in the surrounding area. There is a government-owned dispensary in Milola; however there is a shortage of qualified staff and inadequate supplies. The dated gravity-fed water system that serves Milola and six other villages was not functioning well enough to meet the water needs of the villages. The most pressing challenges facing schools are a shortage of trained teachers, inadequate classrooms, insufficient educational materials, and equal access to education for girls.
Naitolia is a small agro-pastoralist village with a population of about 1,700. Over half of the population is under the age of 15. The main ethnic groups that make up the village are Arusha and Maasai. There is no centralized population center; instead bomas, or households, are spread out over about 10 km. There is no health dispensary or power source in the village. A seasonal stream and a borehole located 8 km from the village serve as the village's main water source but neither source meets village water needs.
There are four preschool centers which are open intermittently when teachers are available and a small primary school in the village with enrollment at approximately 400 students. Dropout rates are high and attendance is low. At times there is little food to eat at home so children come to school hungry and have difficulty concentrating. The secondary school is located in Makuyuni, about 9 km away.
Few Naitolia children can attend school due to the cost and distance. Most families raise cattle with herds of 5 to 800 head, although a significant percentage of cattle die due to disease and lack of water. Some families also raise goats, sheep, donkeys, and poultry. Agriculture is challenging due to shallow soils, low rainfall, and high annual variation. Crops suited to certain parts of this area include grasses, legumes, sorghum, bean, and wheat. Here too, the majority of the families live below the poverty line.