School Lunches

Primary school children at lunch time

The Tanzanian government requires that all children go to school, however in rural areas like Loliondo, children are needed at home to help with herding and housework. Often, housework seems to hold a higher priority than schoolwork.

It has been observed that one way to increase attendance is for schools to provide lunches. Last year, Sukenya Primary School was forced to stop providing lunches to children. During the drought, there was not enough water for drinking, let alone for the school to cook meals for the children. School attendance was down, and those students who did attend had trouble focusing on their classes.

In response, we extended piping from the dispensary borehole and installed a water tank and tap at the school, so they have been able to start cooking lunches for the students again. This has increased attendance, and should increase student engagement in the classroom.

Over the next three years, we plan to drill five boreholes. Not only will these provide drinking water, but they will supply schools with water for cooking, which in turn will improve education for students at the primary schools. The effect of these boreholes ripples through life in Loliondo. We hope you'll support us in this endeavor.


Asante Sana!

William Alais, Oloipiri Ward Councilor, and Judi Wineland, FoTZC Director, listening to the concerns of local elders.

William Alais, Oloipiri Ward Councilor, and Judi Wineland, FoTZC Director, listening to the concerns of local elders.

Constance Cork, President of Focus on Tanzanian Communities’ Board of Directors, recently received a heartfelt note from William Alais, Oloipiri Ward Councilor. As a village elder and respected member of the community, William understands the challenges facing the men, women and children he represents.

We thought it was important to share Williams’ sentiments with you, so you can hear how, in his own words, your support has impacted the lives of thousands of lives in northern Tanzania.

Dear FoTZC President,

On behalf of the people of Oloipiri Ward, I would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude for the great work that FoTZC has assisted and supported and are still committed to doing in our area since the start of our partnership in early 2008. Again I am taking this opportunity to acknowledge the work your board has done over the years and other upcoming projects that the board will be committed to doing in the future. As leader from Oloipiri Ward and on behalf of my own people, I want your board to know that the people I serve and I personally appreciated your support so much that we truly are blessed to have received these projects that we actually needed for years. I believe that your board does understand some of our felt needs as the community you are working with. We indeed needed medical services, economic empowerment, education and water among others, no wonder your board responded with compassionate heart. That is why we value our partnership, consequently here is our appreciations; the construction of the Sukenya medical dispensary including staff housing, drilling of water boreholes, toilet and solar power installation has been nothing but a gift of health that the people of Sukenya missed for years like other many rural communities in Tanzania. This has drastically shortened long distances that women and children could have walked for health services.

Additionally, through your support women have been economically empowered through micro-projects of beads work, maize mills, leather tanning factory and beekeeping projects hence are now capable in supporting family live hood and participate in environmental conservation as an outcome of your unforgettable donation. This goes in line with the construction of classrooms of the teacher’s housing and two dormitories for girls and boys which were constructed respectively in Soit-Sambu Secondary School.

Elsewhere, around our Ward the donkeys that were the main means of transport for water up to this decade are sooner to be rested. The project of boreholes in Oloipiri Orkuyeine and Embaash sub-village in Sukenya village are at the stage where water was found and drilled. We are expecting to supply around 3,500 households in the coming months. I want to give testimony that water for human consumption is very scarce in our area and most women and children fetch water for home consumption far away from often polluted sources spreading waterborne diseases.

In order to secure these sources, we as a community, have unanimously agreed to form a special water committee that would be responsible of safeguarding the water sources. The committee has also come up with specific directives on how to manage the water sources. Since we understand the efforts and hard work done by the FoTZC Board, we want to make sure these projects are sustainably managed. Therefore, we have created a water fund that would be used for maintenance purposes. We are committed to ensure that no one would tamper with these water sources and they will be well maintained. Please rest assured that, we as a community are committed to make sure that all the projects are well maintained and most importantly safeguarded.

Our Ward has been a beneficiary of your support and we would like to continue being your partner in the efforts to improve the livelihood of our people and I want to assure your board that we in Oloipiri Ward will always defend, honour and respect our partnership. Once again thank you so much for your committed support and believing in our communities.

We hope that this partnership will last long not only for the bright future of our generations but also for the sustainable health of flora and fauna of our beautiful land. May God bless you in all your efforts to improve the livelihood of Tanzanian communities.

Sincerely Yours,

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William M. Alais
Oloipiri Ward Councilor"

No Longer a Dangerous Trek

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Imagine not having running water in your house. Now imagine living in an extremely remote place – you have few neighbors, a large family, and a lot of livestock – in an area prone to drought. Your husband and older sons are herding the livestock. Your younger children are in school. You and your older daughters who are not yet married have to build and repair the houses in the family compound, tend small crops, cook for the family, fetch firewood, and fetch water for cooking, drinking, and bathing. During times of drought, the nearest water source can take hours to get to on foot. If you’re lucky, you have a donkey to carry the water home for you. Now imagine some of the things that can happen to a woman walking for many hours in a remote area.

During these long treks for water, women are not simply losing time that they could use for other economic activities, they risk sexual assault along the way. During a long drought, families even take younger girls out of school to help fetch water. As FoTZC celebrates its 20th anniversary, we are focusing on providing clean water to communities like the one we describe here.  We have drilled three boreholes and are putting in solar pumps, allowing women access to clean water right in their communities, thus eliminating this dangerous, sometimes daily trek to fetch water. We plan to continue to drill boreholes in order to make clean water accessible for more and more women, enabling them to keep their daughters in school, to spend more time on starting small businesses through our COCOBA program, but most importantly, keeping them safe.

Water for a Healthy Life

FoTZC is so proud of the Sukenya Dispensary that we built and opened in 2015. Each month more than 500 members of the community receive care at this facility, but none of it would be possible without clean water. The dispensary would not be able to provide this care if the doctors and nurses were not able to sanitize their hands and instruments. Women who deliver in the dispensary need a hygienic area in order to minimize complications during and after childbirth. The borehole at the dispensary enables the staff to provide quality care, but it is so much more than that.

There are multiple long-term health outcomes associated with providing clean water in our partner communities. Four of the top ten illnesses treated at the dispensary are water-related: diarrhea, dysentery, eye infections, and typhoid fever.  The incidence of these diseases has been declining since the community started using the local borehole. Beyond the health outcomes, clean water will improve the life of local children. The less the children are absent from school due to water-borne illness, or because they need to collect water, the better educated they will be in the long run.

The list of benefits continues – the effect of water (or the lack thereof) stretches into every facet of life. Everyone needs clean water for drinking, cooking, and bathing. Everyone deserves to have clean water to live a healthy life.

Bringing safe drinking water to Tanzanian Communities


Written by FoTZC Directors Mary Loeken and Katherine Record

Access to adequate supplies of safe water for drinking and food preparation is an unmet need in many low-income countries. The need is always dire in Sub-Saharan Africa, but is especially acute right now as eastern Sub-Saharan Africa is currently undergoing a severe drought. In remote regions in Tanzania, as in many parts of the world, streams and rivers may be the sole source of water, and is not safe for drinking or bathing. This can result in a multitude of preventable diseases including cholera, botulism, diarrhea and dysentery, typhoid, and river blindness. Moreover, women are disproportionately burdened by the effort to supply their families with clean water - 90% of water collection is done by women and girls - resulting in walking up to 8 hours per day to collect water. This leaves them with reduced time to engage in childcare, education, the workforce, attend healthcare appointments (often referred to as "time poverty"). In addition, requiring women and girls to travel long distances to collect water increases risk of sexual assault, as they travel alone. In Tanzania, school attendance is 12% higher among girls who live in homes located no more than 15 minutes from a clean water source; there is no difference in school attendance by boys. Having a proximate clean water source results in improved health outcomes, increased productivity, increased school attendance by girls, and movement toward gender equality.



When FoTZC constructs housing for teachers, or new classrooms, we usually include a SIM tank (a vessel that collects and stores rain water in a way that ensures it remains potable). This provides water to both the school and, ideally, the community. However, water collected in SIM tanks is inadequate for community, and sometimes, school needs, especially during times of drought. Thus, we have recently begun to work to increase the supply of clean water to communities in the Arusha Region, Ngorongoro District, Loliondo area, and Oloipiri Ward with boreholes, which are deep, narrow shafts in the ground from which water can be pumped. We are working with local contractors who find underground aquifers, dig the borehole, and install a pump. We have three borehole projects in progress, and two more that are planned, all located near schools or the dispensary where FoTZC has already undertaken projects, and which are in close proximity of homes to which water can be transported. The cost of a borehole is $40,000-45,000.


Elizabeth Mwakajila, FoTZC Project Coordinator in Tanzania explained the immediate impact of the availability of clean water at Sukenya Primary School. Of the 459 students at the school, the “number of absentees due to sickness were a maximum of 105 [on a given day] before water was available at the school. The pupils were sick as well as not attending school [in order to go] miles away to search for water for domestic use. [Since water has been available at the school] the absentee number has dropped to 38 students.” This is a stunning decrease in school absenteeism, and we expect to see reports from the Dispensary shortly that the number of patients coming in with water-borne diseases is decreasing!