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Chris Cox, International Health Program, Thailand

Global Service Corps has provided community assistance programs in East Africa since 1994. The following reports provide an update on our work in the areas of HIV/AIDS and Youth and Sustainable Agriculture.

By Jenaya Rockman, MPH, Former GSC Tanzania HIV/AIDS Program Coordinator

The Challenge
  • Each year about 60% of new HIV infections occur among the youth of Tanzania ages 15 through 24, who make up 25% of Tanzania’s population
  • Among unmarried youth who are sexually active, only 37% of the women and 43% of the men say they used a condom the last time they had sex.
  • Over 50% of Tanzania’s 19-year-old women are mothers or are pregnant.
  • Only 45% of all young people have received instruction on reproductive health.
Although surveys consistently find that Tanzania’s youth have a fairly high awareness of HIV transmission and prevention, risky behaviors among them continue at a disheartening rate. Use of condoms and modern pregnancy prevention methods remains low for young women, as well as for men. Global Service Corps’ (GSC) Youth Program bridges the gap between knowledge and behavior change.

GSC’s Youth Program sparks Tanzanian high school students’ interest not only in HIV/AIDS prevention, but also in the directly related topics of relationships, sexuality, and healthy life skills. The program also prepares and equips students to share what they learn with other students as peer educators. If this group is not reached, countries most impacted by HIV will continue to experience increased infection rates and health care expenditure, decreased life expectancy and economic development, and most importantly, decreased quality of life. In an effort to be part of the solution to this growing problem, GSC has chosen to focus one of its programs on youth education.

The Youth Program provides a continuum of services which start in June with the annual HIV/AIDS, Health, and Life Skills Day Camp. The camp is followed by activities throughout the year that build on students’ gained knowledge, preparing them to serve as peer educators for other students.

HIV/AIDS, Health, and Life Skills Day Camp
Each year in June, GSC conducts two-week long day camps in Arusha-area secondary schools, involving 200 - 300 students and teacher participants. GSC volunteers, alongside GSC Tanzanian staff counterparts, and teachers plan and lead the daily activities of camp. The unique cultural exchange that GSC volunteers provide enriches training and is experienced among students as a program highlight they look forward to. The day camps use non-traditional educational methods such as role plays, games, debates, and discussions.

At the conclusion of camp, family, friends, and community members are invited to a graduation ceremony during which students showcase what they have learned through song, drama, and art. The ceremony conveys to its audience the importance of community support in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Currently, GSC has conducted the HIV/AIDS, Health, and Life Skills Day Camp in 32 Arusha area and rural schools, reaching over 3000 students.

Post Day Camp Peer Educator Training
GSC’s Youth Program provides a specialized week-long workshop immediately after the day camp. This workshop trains selected day camp graduates to become peer educators and health club leaders. During the workshops, GSC trains these leaders to plan health club meetings, organize outreach activities, and facilitate trainings. To date, GSC has conducted four peer educator workshops, through which 98 students have been equipped to be peer educators.

Health Clubs
After student leaders complete peer-educator training, they return to their schools and form health clubs. The goal of these clubs is to provide an open forum for students to educate their fellow students in HIV prevention, life skills and health issues relating to youth. The student health club officers are assisted in their work by their supervising teacher and receive ongoing support and training by GSC staff Peer Education Coordinators (PECs). Each PEC is assigned to six schools and works together with the student leaders to plan health club meetings and activities. Among other things, PECs attend each health club meeting to help facilitate sessions, answer questions, and serve as role models. They also provide supplemental information requested by the students, help arrange guest speakers and HIV testing. When their schedule allows, volunteers visit the school to provide additional lessons as guest speakers.
  • Testing: Many schools have requested that GSC provide HIV testing on site. In partnership with Tumaini Angaza, mobile testers come to the school and test all willing teachers and students. To date, over 500 students have been tested.
  • Newsletter: GSC distributes a newsletter centered on youth issues, called “Inawezekana” (meaning “it is possible” in Swahili). This provides another medium to provide HIV and health information to students. Students are also encouraged to submit pieces for publication. A featured teacher and featured club section serve to encourage involvement.

Community Youth Outreach Events
Drama Workshop and Performances: During 2008 and 2009, GSC sponsored two drama workshops for students. Lead by the International School of Moshi-Arusha drama teacher, students were trained in theatre performance techniques and created their own scripts. Both of these workshops resulted in community performances, one being on World AIDS Day.
Art workshop: In March 2009, GSC and local artists of Umoja Arts assisted in an essay and visual arts contest among the health club students. This culminated with the winners showing their pieces at the Alliance Française in Arusha.
Talent Show: In the past two years, GSC organized two community outreach talent shows. Students performed songs and dances to pass on information about HIV and youth issues.

Future GSC Plans

  • Continue to conduct day camps for schools in town and possibly in underserved rural communities
  • Conduct an Annual Leadership meeting where student leaders and supervising teachers will gain further skills in leadership and peer education
  • Continue to provide testing in schools
  • Provide refresher trainings for existing health clubs
  • Continue conducting Peer Educator Training workshops to train additional students to be peer educators
  • Produce regular editions of the health club newsletter
  • Implement a text-in hotline where students can receive answers and advice from the Peer Education Coordinators
  • Conduct a third Drama Workshop and talent show, as well as be involved in World AIDS Day 2010


by Erwin Kinsey, MS, Global Service Corps Tanzania Country Director

The Challenge

The usefulness of organic produce in improving the diets of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) is well known. Farmers have a general apprehension that the chemicals promoted by modern agriculture in fact exacerbate human disease, and they are interested in options which effectively control pests and improve production without expensive inputs. Strengthening income sources for small farmers alleviates poverty that drives the continuous spread of HIV/AIDS. These reasons are the driving forces for the recent increasing interest in organic farming among small holder Tanzanian farmers.

It was unfortunately assumed that farmers would find a ready market for their excess organic produce and that it would obtain higher prices. However, marketing has been problematic. This is partly due to lack of certification and un-readiness of purchasers to pay the additional costs which relate to organic produce. These costs relate to obtaining certification and to some extent a sacrifice in production levels in the early stages of converting to organic production. Groups lack skills in marketing, particularly the ability to provide a continuous and adequate supply to potential buyers. Some do not understand the importance of adhering to organic methods in order to maintain consumer trust.

Global Service Corps Response

Global Service Corps, founded in 1993 to provide opportunities for volunteers to work on public service projects in developing countries, came to Tanzania in May 2001. Since then about 360 volunteers have worked on a range of projects in the Arusha area. Its primary objectives are to:

-Educate and promote awareness of HIV and AIDS and promote low-risk behavior while encouraging a compassionate attitude towards those living with the disease.
- Educate about sustainable agriculture techniques so that families and farmers can feed themselves and their families more effectively.

In collaboration with local organizations partnering with local counterparts, volunteer participants have worked with 32 different primary farmer groups in Arumeru and Arusha districts teaching bio-intensive (organic) gardening. GSC-TZ maintains a demonstration plot at the office grounds in Arusha for trainings, as well as two full-time staff, plus a part-time consultant to further the needs of these 32 farmer groups and training of new groups.

Early on it was recognized that marketing of organic produce needed support. GSC-TZ volunteers engaged farmers groups to request funding for the construction of a special market at Patandi, which was obtained with support of the Rotary Club of Arusha.

However, despite some attempts at training groups in marketing skills, their inability to provide a continuous and adequate supply to potential buyers prevails. When funding to support group entrepreneurship was obtained through the Global Green Fund channeled through GSC-TZ, farmer groups were allowed to prioritize the use of the funds and did not consider marketing issues to be a high priority when it came time to use the funds. They instead bought dairy goats to increase their assets.

A Luta Continua (The Struggle Continues)

GSC-TZ sought other sources of revenue to support market training, and recognized that a group approach may be effective to spread training messages, but individual initiative is needed to ensure adherence to the standards required for the mark of certification. GSC-TZ approached a local funding source to support the training for certification. It is a timely, critical need/opportunity to help get three pilot groups started by helping them to embark on the certification process. The pilot groups are in Olasiti, Akheri, Kicharimpinda and Nguruma villages.
Organic Certification, a quality assurance and guarantee system whereby an operator/producer is certified and given a MARK to guarantee that the product meets quality standards, has two approaches in Tanzania. Farmers will be made aware of the two main certification systems, but the less stringent approach is adequate for the local market, and will be promoted in the first instance. Quality will be achieved by a planned group monitoring scheme in course of production, handling, storage, transportation, processing etc. The quality management system will enable achieving the quality objective. It is called the “Participatory Guarantee System (PGS)”, characterized by the following:

• A grower group or association or cooperative is identified and trained in organic practices by an NGO, Extension or Operator.
• The group is facilitated to understand different Quality Standards like EAOPS
• A quality management system (QMS) like (PGS) is arranged whereby commitment to meeting quality standards is made by individual members of a group.
• Participatory assessment will be made regularly to check if the QMS is efficiently working.
• Reports on what is happening at the group level concerning quality will be prepared after follow up and decisions or actions taken necessary for sharing among key actors like the Facilitating NGO, the Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement (TOAM), Buyers, Members and others.
• Based on the assessment of the implementation of the QMS, an organic quality guarantee Mark will issued to a group, or members within a group, for product labeling.
• The group applies for the Organic Mark from TOAM who are custodian of the Mark. Application is accompanied by report on the functional ability of the QMS.
• TOAM participates in facilitating organic stakeholders like grower groups to understand quality standards (EAOPS) and institute a quality management system to a level of accessing the Organic Mark.

TOAM and NGOs facilitate organic marketing strategies like a box scheme, strategic open market promotion, marketing/supply centre, hotel and/or supermarket linkages. This will be a continuous process if the group is committed to achieving the quality objective by reinforcing the QMS, thereby guaranteeing quality, a strong tool in accessing and maintaining a market/customer. Trust with customers/ buyers will be achieved and maintained in the process. All stakeholders need to assure that what is marketed as organic meets the organic quality standards (EAOPS).

Facilitation costs ordinarily will be shared among the group or facilitating organization and TOAM. These currently are the major constraint for GSC-TZ to engage TOAM for the 32 groups with which GSC-TZ currently is working. GSC-TZ is keen to at least start with the well-established groups to achieve a success record and experience in the certification process. The training duration will be two days, followed by a two week interval during which time the group will prepare a system of oversight and self-organization, followed by one additional day and a half to determine the appropriate system. This amounts to three and one half days facilitation per group.


In an ideal world, a problem can be solved by a simple investment of time and funding. In the development context and particularly among small, risk-averse farmers, it is sometimes hard to know what forces will lead to success. While the outcome of GSC-TZ’s accompaniment of small farmers is still to be fully evaluated, GSC-TZ volunteers and staff will continue to advance efforts to achieve program objectives on behalf of Tanzania farmers and their struggle to economically support organic production.