MLANDA Village situated in Magulilwa Ward in Iringa is one of the three villages in the region where the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF) Productive social safety net programme (PSSN) is being implemented.
In a small community where most of the houses are made up of mud bricks, thatched roofs surrounded by maize farms, the Parliamentary Committee on Administration and Local Government Affairs visited Claudia Kanyita and her three grand children.
They were dressed in well-knitted sweaters sporting the national flag.
The three boys were not the only children that Kanyita was raising. Kanyita who was not able to tell her age had told members of the committee who were accompanied by the Minister of State in the President’s Office (Public Service Management and Good Governance), Ms Angellah Kairuki, that her five children died of HIV and AIDS, except for one.
“Their death had prompted me to bear the responsibility of all the eight grandchildren. My husband too, passed away a few years back,” said Kanyita. She told the officials who had gathered outside her house that what was going on in her life was devastating. She was stuck in the dark not knowing what to do with the eight children.
“I have been asking myself whether I would be able to make it and take care of the children. I had no business to help me raise them,” she said.
She went on to say that when she was enrolled in TASAF cash grants programme, it was a miracle, the opportunity came at the time when she needed it most.
“Through the programme, I have managed to buy food, paid medical bills and covered school materials among other things, constructed an iron-roofed house,” noted the grandmother.
Kanyita however, noted that she was not in a position to run any business due to challenges on capital. Upon receiving the cash grants, she distributes the money to cater for the needs of all the children including their daily meals.
“My plan is to open a restaurant and I had started putting up a structure on a piece of land I own for operating a business in the village, but stopped due to lack of cash,” pointed Kanyita. The sad story made Ms Kairuki and members of the committee to come to Kanyita’s rescue.
They raised some money from their own pockets for her to complete the restaurant and small capital to start the business. Konjeta Lyambafu (85) is also a beneficiary of the TASAF cash grants, through the programme, she was able to start a poultry business.
After selling the chickens, Lyambafu bought a pig which gave her several piglets. She sold the pigs and bought iron sheets for her two bed room house.
Speaking in Hehe language which was translated by the Acting Chairman of the Committee, Mr Venance Mwamoto, who is also Kilolo Member of Parliament (MP - CCM), she extended appreciation to the government for introducing such a program. “Had it not been for the programme, I would not be where I am today.
I thank the government for looking after the needs of poor old people like me,” said Lyambafu in Hehe language. The Minister and the committee also facilitated her with a capital to buy more goats to further her business.
For the programme to sustain and help more people, joint efforts between the actors, community development officer, business development officer and veterinary officers is needed. Ms Kairuki had appealed to the responsible authorities to integrate the beneficiaries of TASAF grants in all economic activities to boost their incomes.
“The grants program is not going to last forever, a time will come when this people will have to stand on their own feet.... give them necessary skills that will sustain their future. These people should be considered like any ordinary citizens, including getting all the privileges obtained by others,” she noted.
For majority of the beneficiaries emanate from the rural areas, they should be guided on putting up small savings to help them during the lean season. She however, required that the beneficiaries be furnished with the five percent youth and women empowerment loans issued through every municipality.
“They have a promising future, if they are directed on the right path and get a chance to proper expert advice in their income generating activities,” she observed. According to the Minister, the time that the beneficiaries have lasted in the programme, with business knowledge, they would have gone far.
The TASAF grants beneficiaries also pinpointed some of the challenges they were facing including some of the households being removed from the programme during the verification exercises to remove ineligible people.
Among other challenges includes poultry and other animal diseases and lack of reliable markets for their farming produce. The beneficiaries were of the view that some of those removed, had a difficult time, but due to the programme their lives had improved day by day.
TASAF Executive Director (ED), Mr Ladislaus Mwamanga, clarifying the matter said it was true that some of the households were erroneously removed from the programme just because their status had changed.
“During the verification exercise some of the deserving households were removed from the program, but it is indeed true some of the assets had been obtained from the cash transfers that they have been receiving,” remarked Mr Mwamanga.
He pointed out that for such a case whereby a poor household has transformed, there is a process which has to be taken to remove them from the program.
The ED observed that plans are underway to prune out beneficiaries whose poverty status have improved, to pave the way for more poor households to be enrolled in the programme.
“A strategy has been prepared in collaboration with the Development Partners ((DPs) whereby the beneficiaries will be given an opportunity to give their views before implementation begins,” said Mr Mwamanga.
He said for the beneficiaries whose poverty status have improved, they will be given a grace period of six months before the official removal. “The maximum time limit in the programme is three years; in that case you should be reminded to work hard to improve your status so as to graduate.
At least 1.1 million households have been enrolled from 159 Local Government Authorities in Tanzania Mainland and all 11 Districts in Zanzibar since the roll out of TASAF III in 2012.