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Marine Conservation Education, Zanzibar

By | Education & Enrichment
 Empowering the local community to engage with their environment in a sustainable way through educational trips and dolphin tour driver training.
The fishing village of Kizimkazi is not only one of the most beautiful villages in Zanzibar, but also one of its most exploited fishing and tourist destinations. Together, overfishing and unregulated tourist activity poses a very real threat to this marine conservation area. The residents of this idyllic Zanzibar village must evolve with their rapidly changing society, learning to innovate versus stagnate and live sustainably within their fragile environment. The people of Kizimkazi are the primary benefactors of the local economy, but also those most affected by overfishing and lack of regulation in relation to tourist activities.

The African Impact Foundation moves to work together with the local community on education and capacity building in order to inform people on why conservation matters, and how they can take responsibility for their own sustainable development while ensuring a strong conservation area in Kizimkazi and the Menai Bay. Education and empowerment activities include education in English, marine conservation, resource management and business development.

The village is heavily reliant on the ocean for their income and their food. Most fishermen in Kizimkazi harvest on a subsistence level, meaning that they fish to feed their families and only profit from their trade when they are able to catch more than they can eat. Although the area is a Marine Conservation Area in order to protect these resources, the environment has deteriorated as local stocks of fish and sealife are overharvested to feed a burgeoning population, threatening the future of the entire community.

The main tourist attractions in Kizimkazi center around the exploitation of local dolphin populations. Unfortunately, due to the rapid growth of the tourism industry in Zanzibar, this has led to many boats going out at once, and it is sadly common to see 15-20 boats surrounding one small pod of dolphins with tourists jumping directly on them. Disappointed travelers leave scathing reviews online encouraging prospective tourists to spurn the village entirely and take their money elsewhere, ultimately spelling loss of earning for the boat drivers and guides.

Through education and capacity building activities, the African Impact Foundation aims to empower the local community to benefit from their environment in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way. This includes teaching the boat drivers and guides English so they can communicate better with tourists, giving them information on the local marine conservation area and building better relationships. It also includes running marine conservation programmes with local youth, aiming to teach the next generation about the importance of conservation for future generations and how they can be part of a responsible, sustainable marine conservation area.

By providing support through conservation education, books, various workshops and other resources, The African Impact Foundation can empower the community, teaching them new skills that they can use to run their businesses whilst also protecting their resources and furthering their education.

This project will be on-going and the following three intitial initiatives have been identified, based on current needs and assistance required:

  1. Interactive Conservation Club lessons and field trips. Connecting the youth to their surroundings as well as giving them an opportunity to practice and implement real life skills in the field of conservation. At a weekly club, local staff and volunteers will teach students through physical activities and experiential learning opportunities. To maintain and reinforce their developing enthusiasm, they will be provided with visits to local organizations that are practicing sustainably.
  2. Mobile library and resource centre. Providing a facility where locals can take out books and read up on relevant topics. The books will range in difficulty level, language and topics, as well as dictionaries to assist those learning English. There will be resources for young and old and will hopefully encourage knowledge sharing.
  3. Skills development workshops. Providing the community with bursts of skills development and encouraging thought-provoking interactions will help create a village-wide approach to problem management and resource protection. These workshops will cover a range of topics such as sustainable tourism and business, collaborative initiatives and improved techniques of fishing and operating. Teaching local boat drivers essential job skills for the dolphin tours as well as how to conduct their work in a more sustainable way.

Short Term Impact: Allow the English language students and other interested community members to improve their linguistic skills in their own time as well as offering information on alternative incomes that aren’t reliant on the ocean. Provide more direct information and skill development to help raise awareness and protect the limited resources available to the community.

Long Term Impact: Create an environment where community members, especially the youth, take charge of the problems they face and work towards win-win solutions (for the ocean and the village). Encourage learning and skills development while identifying alternative income generation opportunities.

Kizimkazi, Zanzibar
The small fishing village of Kizimkazi lies almost at the southern tip of Unguja, the bigger and better known of the two islands of the archipelago of Zanzibar. For tourists, this old village is best known for the dolphin swims, while for historians, it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements on the island which also contains East Africa’s oldest standing mosque.

Kizimkazi is in the heart of the Menai Bay Conservation Area, established in August 1997 and comprising of various tropical marine environments from extensive coral reefs to mangrove forests, stretching across 19 villages on the island. They have set up village level Conservation Committees to restrain the illegal use of circular nets and blasting techniques with some success.

The African Impact Foundation has been present in the community for nearly two years and over time has identified areas where support is needed; all tying back to education, empowerment and alternative income generation. Through our work, positive relationships have already been established with community members, fishermen and boat operators.

The Marine Conservation programme was founded in 2017 to provide conservation field trips for students who attend weekly conservation workshops.

  • 2017: 4 boat drivers completed their 5 modules of Ethical Dolphin Tour training. All 4 drivers completed practical assessments to see how they would react to difficult scenarios when delivering their own ethical dolphin tour, including dealing with over 10 untrained boat drivers.  The improvement in their boat driving was fantastic, with all drivers demonstrating an ability to drive carefully, at a safe distance to ensure their interaction with the dolphins was sustainable. These boat drivers gives us a total of 8 trained drivers that are registered and recognised in Zanzibar as Sustainable Dolphin Tour Operators.  As a result, they can gain more business and encourage other boat drivers to complete the training.
  • 2018: The conservation club programme extended beyond just the conservation field trips. Every term (three times a year), students who attended the weekly conservation workshops had the opportunity to attend the field trips which align to the themes they were taught that quarter. Additionally, we noticed the boom in dolphin tourism; however, there were no regulations to protect the dolphin species residing in the area. Therefore, we ran free workshops with the local boat drivers to teach them how to make their dolphin tours sustainable and ethical through better driving, information about dolphins and customer service skills.
  • 2019: Our goal is to provide these ethically-trained boat drivers with certificates, badges, and uniforms for them to start an ethical, dolphin tour company as their own income generating activity.

Educational Support, Cape Town

By | Education & Enrichment
Our Educational Support project seeks to support strategic renovations for Kuyasa Educare and aims to enrich the children’s education by providing much needed funding in order to renovate the buildings following Cape storm damage in July 2017, as well as purchase age-appropriate educational toys and teaching supplies.
The goal of the project is to get Kuyasa to register as a Early Childhood Centre for government funding to sustain the developments of the children under 6 to become school ready and receive the necessary psycho-social support for their complete development for future success.
The low standard of living in these communities too often means that families and schools are unable to provide children with the adequate tools they need to aid in their physical and mental development. Many children in these communities do not have access to age-appropriate toys and tools to ultimately enable their short and long term development. Schools aim to equip its students with a safe and nurturing learning environment that will help children to grow and develop into intelligent adults and give them hope for a bright future as an educated individual. Unfortunately due to the nature of the community, these facilities struggle financially and need additional educational support to provide the children with the resources they need to enrich their education. The South African Government is able to support and supplement a few training’s for teachers once ECD centre are registered. The registration can only happen once the centre meet the set requirements which includes building and capacity levels prescribed by the government. Kuyasa does not meet the requirements and can not register its centre until these requirements are met.

 We have been assisting Kuyasa with providing support and aid for the children’s development as they prepare for primary school. The preschool lost registration at the start of the year due to changing building regulations. The preschool funded the construction of new classrooms to help get registration back. The classrooms were close to completion when the storm damaged them, meaning the principal has been set back to the beginning. Without registration and subsequent funding, children in the area will not receive quality ECD support and thus opportunities to gain entry to primary schools may be compromised.

Short Term: We want to create safe and secure learning environment for the children at the school by completing a list of necessary renovations for educational support.

Long Term: to ultimately register the school as an educational government facility. As a registered school, the facility will become eligible for government funding which will further improve the children’s education and increase their sustainability. When children has educational support from a young age, they are well-equipped for their schooling career. Evidence indicates that success in early years translates into success in higher levels of education.

Khayelitsha is a partially informal township in Western Cape, South Africa. Located in the Cape Flats area in the City of Cape Town, Khayelitsha means ‘New Home’ in Xhosa. It is noted to be the largest and fastest growing township in South Africa. Today Khayelitsha has an estimated official population of over 500,000 people but the unofficial number counts just under two million people including informal settlement areas as well. The ethnic makeup of Khayelitsha consists mainly of Black African residents, who predominantly speak Xhosa. Khayelitsha has a very young population with over 40% of residents being under the age of 19. As with other settlement communities, residents in Khayelitsha have limited access to basic utilities such as water, sewage, electricity and health care.

At the begining of 2018, we have reached our short-term goal by securing Kuyasa’s registration as a Early Childhood Development Centre, which qualifies teachers for ECD training which will meet the rest of the long-term goals. We are through this project currently impacting 105 people; 100 children under the age of 6 with a split between 50% boys and girls and 5 teachers who are receiving training to best achieve school readiness for the learners at the ECD. With a lack of resources, our continued goal is to help supplement the resources at the ECD.

  • 2017: Was a difficult year for Kuyasa after their newly built classroom was damaged by Cape Storms. We worked with the ECD centre to provide them with funding to repair their classroom. We were able to repair the roof, ceiling, floor, and in addition provide new colourful posters for the walls to create a creative learning space for the children.
  • 2018: Kuyasa achieved government registration certifying them as a government approved ECD centre for the 105  children they provide learning to. Even better, because the centre had all its papers in order they were able to secure from government a 10 year lease on the land they currently operate from. To add to this the tenure offer also include the option to buy the land should they wish.
  • 2019: We are aspiring to assist Kuyasa repair another classroom so they receive registration for additional space to use. This not only means the crèche can take more children but can also employ more teachers.

Health and Nutrition, Cape Town

By | Health & Nutrition
Providing 86 local children from a disadvantaged community of Redhill with two nutritious meals per day, as well as monitoring the BMI of the children and providing nutrition training to the caregivers. 
Red Hill is an informal community which regularly faces the challenge of inadequate access to basic utilities such as water, sanitation, electricity and health care. This is partly due to the remote and inaccessible location of Red Hill. High rates of unemployment and underemployment within the community means that many families continue to live well below the bread line. This often results in families struggling to meet the daily necessities of life.

The low standard of living in the community limits the ability for families and schools in Red Hill to provide children with the nutrients required for healthy development. Without a balanced diet, children are unable to fend off disease and illness or reach their full potential developmentally.

Red Hill Preschool and Children of Hope Educare aim to help the children and community by providing food daily for the children in their care. Unfortunately, these two facilities struggle financially and need support to continue feeding their students.

The Health and Nutrition Program aims to provide a dynamic approach to addressing the challenges of health and nutrition for two schools in the community of Red Hill. The focal project supports the schools’ feeding programs by supplementing the funds needed to purchase nutritious foods such as fruit, vegetables, vitamin-infused breakfast porridge and rice for the children.

As a part of our commitment to child nutrition, meal plans are cooperatively developed using guidance from the Department of Social Services to ensure that the children’s diets meet national standards for healthy child development.

In partnership with the teachers, African Impact volunteers assess the Body Mass Index (BMI) of each child, over the age of 3 years, every term/quarter to monitor their physical development. Lesson plans and activities relating to good practice for health and nutrition are also incorporated within the annual curriculum to reinforce a healthy lifestyle through education. At school the children learn about the importance of personal hygiene, the relationship between what we eat and health, and exercise has been incorporated into the daily classroom routine. Additionally, every quarter, a nutrition workshop is conducted with all of the teachers to help educate them and increase their knowledge and capability on the importance of health and nutrition in various forms.

Short Term Impact:
Providing each student with a nutritious breakfast, fruit and lunch daily contributes to enhanced learning capacity. This means that not only do the children receive daily sustenance; they will have the energy to play and learn effectively.

Long Term Impact:
Supporting adequate nutrition for healthy child development and sharing knowledge on healthy living will provide children with the tools they need from a young age, to develop into strong, healthy adults.

 Western Cape
Red Hill is an informal settlement made up of non-permanent housing and service structures. The 1 500 residents, who make up a colourful mix of Afrikaans, Xhosa and other African nationalities, do not have access to basic utilities such as water, sanitation, electricity and health care. This is partly due to the remote and inaccessible location of Red Hill. For the past 15 years the community has been demarcated for relocation, however it remains uncertain when or if action will be taken.

We are continuing quarterly nutrition workshops with the teachers, already having completed a session on kitchen safety and proper cleanliness and procedure with children. We are also monitoring the children’s BMI each quarter.

In 2017 46.6% of children can identify 10 letters. Going form 0% to 36% the Hope Educare children can recognise numbers 1-10.

Leaving Ireland for Zanzibar

By | Stories

Our new Zanzibar intern, Lauren, wanted to use her skills, to travel and gain a tan that didn’t come from a bottle! She was searching for an opportunity that combined working in a charity with an amazing destination. What really drew her to this particular internship was our projects.

“Two weeks ago I packed up and left my home country of Ireland to join The Happy Africa Foundation as their sustainable development intern in the beautiful island of Zanzibar. The Happy Africa Foundation (THAF) is responsible for managing donations and allocating funds to African Impact focal projects such as building the community center in Jambiani or supporting the conservation club in Kizimkaze. Over the next 6 months I will work closely with African Impact’s teaching and marine projects to identify areas that require financial support and organize fundraisers for these projects as a result.

African Impact’s motto “Explore, Inspire, Impact” and it is that exact promise that drew me from my comfortable corporate life in Ireland to the pole pole of Zanzibar. Einstein said “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile”. With this in mind and adventure at heart, I hopped on a plane to Zanzibar. I had never been to Africa and I had no idea what to expect but with I can safely say it was the greatest decision I have made. While I expected to give my time and skills I never expected to gain so much in such little time here. My first two weeks has taught me a huge amount on life in Africa. Everyone has extended their karibu to me with smiles and the THAF and African Impact team have made me feel at home away from home.

It is heartwarming to see the honesty and kindness of the local people of Zanzibar. I believe understanding and supporting the local people and communities is essential to a sustainable impact. I hope to spend my time getting to know the community and how I can best contribute during my time here. This week I joined the Marine Conservation project and I will be taking part in the Dolphin, fisherman and boat driver data collection as well as teaching the conservation club. I feel unbelievably lucky that I have the opportunity to be in the presence of such intelligent beautiful creatures and I feel that it is our responsibility to protect them. I am also excited to teach the conservation club as it is driven by the huge interest of the young people.

What is obvious is the passion behind this project from marine project managers Celeste and Lisa. The time and effort they put into their work and volunteers is testament to the impact of this project over the past two years. The quote “Our world in not inherited from our ancestors but borrowed from our children” was mentioned in my introduction to the marine conservation project and it is clear that this idea has led all of the project initiatives. Without the work of this conservation project this little fishing village will suffer greatly as fish numbers deplete and their food source is destroyed. Educating young people today through the conservation club will produce the environmentally conscious leaders of tomorrow. I can’t wait to get stuck in!”