We teach: We believe that community development is the process of empowerment. Our programs encourage communities to take ownership of their own problems. We invest on people by teaching them how to fish rather than giving them the fish.
We Plant: We enable farmers to make the best possible use of their scarce resource, land inclusive to maximize production. Floresta promotes sustainable agriculture and agro-forestry techniques by assisting communities to optimize production in a sustainable way.
We create Enterprises: We enable our people to develop a culture of saving and lending to each other through village community Bank and start businesses.
Village Saving and Lending Association (VSLA)
Village Savings and Loan groups are the entry into Floresta programs. Members gather together to use the Village Savings and Loan system to help structure their household cash flows, support the community, and make strong financial decisions. These groups have been very popular and attract people from the entire spectrum of society.
Agriculture and Environment Training
Floresta’s programs encourage communities to take ownership of their own problems. We teach the VICOBA groups about the connection between proper care and conservation for their local environments and building sustainable livelihoods. The groups then identify areas for further learning and we work with them build on the knowledge that the already possess. We are currently developing several Farmer Field Schools where we will identify those high performing farmers from among our VICOBA groups. We will partner with these lead farmers to help them become experts in the things that they’re already doing well. These Farmer Field Schools will be very visible in the community and help spread some of our core teachings. We understand that a normal human behavior is that most people will watch the few early adopters of new teaching and technologies and only take them on after they’ve seen success. These Farmer Field Schools are one technique to impact whole communities.
In cooperation with the community training, we also partner with communities to help restore local environments. We help the communities utilize technologies and techniques that address their every day needs in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Tree Nurseries: Floresta has helped to establish 393 active community owned and managed tree nurseries. Through these nurseries about 1,091,862 trees have been planted by the community annually . We also have worked systematically to restore 11 watersheds. We will continue to encourage tree planting and natural regeneration of forested areas in an attempt to restore watersheds throughout the Kilimanjaro region over the next few years.
Rain water cisterns: Water is a major issue for farmers in Tanzania. Floresta encourages community groups to implement water catchment systems including building water harvesting cisterns. We’ve installed 42 large cisterns within the communities where we operate.
Ecological latrines: We partner with local schools to teach students to use their waste in an efficient and sanitary manner. These latrines are designed to separate feces and urine, which the schools can further process into a compost manure and a fluid fertilizer. They can then use these fertilizers in the school orchards.
Efficient cooking stoves: Most households throughout Tanzania use fuelwood stoves for cooking. This is a major contributor to deforestation and environmental degradation over time. While we encourage communities to replant trees that they cut, we also teach them to use less wood in their daily lives. To date, we’ve worked with communities to construct 2,521 simple fuel saving stoves that require less wood and create less smoke. Our studies have shown that due to these stoves, firewood utilization has been reduced by 50%.
Contours: Floresta assists farmers to build contours in hillside areas. Contouring helps to improve soil fertility as it prevents soil erosion. In turn this directly impacts food production and helps to secure access to basic nutrition within the community.
Solar lights: Access to electricity is a significant challenge within Tanzania. Many rural areas are not connected to the TANESCO grid, but even those areas receiving power experience regular cuts as TANESCO tries to balance the power supply with the rising demand. Most households rely on kerosene lanterns for lighting. Floresta instead, works with local suppliers to promote the use of solar lights instead. Solar power not only helps families rely less on kerosene, these lights help families save money and protect their health (kerosene lanterns let off a poisonous smoke).
We work with farmers to make the best possible use of the resources that they have, while at the same time identifying alternative sources of income to supplement their farming practices.
Organic agriculture: We encourage all farmers involved in any Floresta programs to build bio-intensive gardens at their homes. These “double dugs” utilize household compost and integrated pest management techniques to grow healthy fruits and vegetables without relying on commercial pesticides and fertilizers. Research has shown that childhood malnutrition in Tanzania is largely due to the lack of a diverse diet. Communities who utilize these gardens have access to diverse sources of nutrition without increasing food costs. In partnership with USAID, we are working to implement the Improved Livelihoods through Organic Agriculture project. The goal of this project is to build on the success of the bio-intensive gardens to build and strengthen markets for this organic produce. We’re currently working with several exporters of beans, peas, babycorn and avocado to export some of our excess produce to the European Union. We haven’t yet reached a point where we can certify our produce as organic and reach external markets, but we are still working to reach this goal. Livestock and poultry: Members of the VICOBA groups save money regularly and can access loans for business investment and household improvements. Many members choose to invest in livestock and poultry businesses. Floresta helps to work with these households to get the most out of these businesses. We also have a lot of expertise on livestock and can help the farmers when they request assistance. This is just one way that we help communities diversify their economies.
We work together with local churches and religious organizations. We realize that the church is a major instrument of change in the community and we encourage them to partner with us in our work. God has called us to care for our environment and communities and cares deeply about how we interact with the world around us. For the earth is the LORD’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it. Psalm 24:1, NIV We are currently using a curriculum called Redemptive Agriculture that was developed by Food for the Hungry. It’s a Bible based curriculum that talks about God’s call for creation care written to be relevant to agriculture based societies.