Our Insights


  1. Agriculture is a key source of income for many people throughout Tanzania. However, in Longido, due to dry climate much of their food is brought in from other areas, and food growth is limited. Some places have used Hafirs on a small scale to provide water collection during the rainy season to water plants during the dry season. There exists an opportunity to harvest water on a small scale to water gardens a give people a sustainable way to grow their own food and sell it.
  2. In Longido and across Africa food insecurity is a major issue. It is often correlated with a lack of farming tools (low mechanization); insufficient fertilizer; low diversity of seeds/plant types; poor irrigation due to lack of access to water / high costs of irrigation; poor formal education of farmers;  loss of crops due to weather, pests, theft, and wildlife; and lack of loans and financial systems. Poor nutrition has negative effects on communities, children's development and more. There exists a need for improved food security through better agriculture.
  3. Permaculture is being implemented as a system of sustainable cultivation in areas across Africa. It's been very successful and accepted with enthusiasm by users. Among other things, it has increased household income, allowed women to become entrepreneurs and empowered people without formal education. As designers, we can use the principles of permaculture to ensure we create a system that is cost effective, yields high output and  exists in harmony with the local environment. 
  4. Water collection takes up a large portion of many people's day, especially women and children. In Kitala, Tanzania for example, the students often had to miss up to two periods of class a day to collect water, due to lack of water access at the school. In order to help children stay in school, and allow people to spend fewer hours of their days collecting water, there exists a need to provide an accessible and sustainable water collection method.

  5. Women and girls in Tanzania miss a lot of opportunities due to responsibilities to family and tradition. Recent changes within the communities, driven by both the women themselves and NGO's such as Project Tembo, are empowering women through loans, education and micro-businesses to help them access more independence and opportunities. These projects have been relatively successful and are being accepted by communities. If we integrate our project into what Tembo is already doing, we may have a higher success rate.
  6. Play in childhood is a key to a child's development and growth in all areas of the world. Playful Learning and Guided Play are techniques that help children learn valuable life lessons through play which is grounded in reality. These techniques are being employed in Tanzania by people such as Sarah Ilmollelian with her Montessori Schools, and NGOs such as Right to Play with play spaces and community building projects. There exists a need in Longido for a safe space for children to learn and play.
  7. The people of Longido have adopted many forms of modern technology, such as cell phones. It is predicted that by 2015, 75% of people in Tanzania will have access to a phone.With higher access to technology and internet there is a greater access to information and flow of knowledge. This has positive implications that they are accepting of new technology and adapting it to their way of life.
  8. Energy in Longido comes mainly from Solar, Diesel and Kerosene. Kerosene and Diesel are expensive, as are solar panels. Solar panels are also fragile. MPower is one of the organizations behind the solar power in Tanzania. Biogas has also recently began becoming more common. Biogas is difficult to store and distribute. It is important for us to be aware of the kind of energy that will be available for powering any projects or technology we plan to implement. 
  9. Kerosene is a common source of indoor lighting in Longido, and similar rural areas in Tanzania; it is both expensive and unsafe. People spend close to 25% of their yearly budget on lighting there home on 2 hours a night. This has led us to believe the is an opportunity to create a more cost effective and sustainable lighting method for families.
  10. Garbage is a huge issue, and littering has become very common as there is no easy place to dispose of garbage; some people burn the garbage in open fire pits or collect garbage to sell to organizations as reusable material. Garbage such as water bottles can be given a second life as new products, or used as building blocks for homes. We believe there is an opportunity for finding new methods of waste disposal or re-purposing this waste as building materials in other projects.
  11. Projects should be done in an innovative way such that it is affordable to the people it is created for. If people can afford to buy it and maintain it themselves, the project is far more likely to be successful than "free aid." Income for people in Longido and similar rural areas is very low, but they do have money and should be able to support themselves on what they have. Therefore, products produced for this area must offer high value and quality at a low price point; it should also make use of modularity and single servings to help reduce costs.
  12. Projects from NGO's are not always successful. For example, an American NGO built a water harvesting system in Malawi. It broke down. Several years later, Engineers Without Borders built a nearly identical system. Again, it broke down. It is incredibly important that we learn from past mistakes and are aware of the history of projects in the area. Furthermore, it is important that anything we build is understood by and can be maintained by people in Longido.

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