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Access to credit, family planning changes women’s lives

Fidea Haule has improved her own life and the lives of her family and her community through her membership in the Songambele Savings and Credit Cooperative Society (SACCOS) and her role as a volunteer Community Based Distributor (CBD) of family planning commodities.

Fidea, who lives in the Kwakibuyu village, about 42 kilometers from Pangani Town, Tanzania, describes her experiences. “I lived very poor life until I joined the SACCOS about five years ago. I am 54 years old and a mother of four children. I have been borrowing from the SACCOS to support my children’s education. Now some of them are at the university and college levels,” she says.

She says that joining the SACCOS (a program supported by the CRC’ Pwani project) has enabled her to expand her farming activities and has supported the running cost of her family. Fidea remembers the last time she borrowed 900,000 Tanzania Shillings, which she spent on a laptop computer for her son, who is studying engineering at the University of Dar es Salaam.

Fidea says that before she joined the SACCOS, she was a small peasant earning a meager income from farming cassava, maize and simsim. Added to her husband’s small pay from sewing clothes in the village, the family’s combined income was still insufficient to meet daily basic needs and school requirements.

Joining the SACCOS enabled Fidea to expand her farm plot from one acre to 12 acres, and she started keeping bees. Today, she is able to harvest up to 200 liters of honey per harvesting season. One liter of honey is sold for 8,000 Tanzania Shillings in the readily available village market and Fidea is assured an income of Tshs 1,600,000 — or more than US $1,000—per season. This is not a small amount in a country where 88 percent of the population lives on less than two dollars per day.

In her work as a CBD, Fidea distributes family planning pills and condoms and refers villagers who prefer other family planning methods not provided by CBDs to nearby health centers. Fidea has gained the confidence to be a volunteer CBD through combining those activities with her livelihood ventures made possible by SACCOS.

She says loans from the SACCOS have improved her farming activities, supported education of her children and running cost of her family and enabled her to engage effectively in CBDs activities.

The USAID Tanzania funded Pwani Project, which is led by the CRC and local partners, has supported the Songambele SACCOS with training and a small seed capital. The objective of the support was to encourage the group to champion environmental conservation and make sure that members do not start income generating activities that have a negative environmental impact. Some members of the SACCOS, included Fidea were also trained to champion the idea of population, health and environment by spreading messages of family planning, HIV/AIDS and environmental protection.

“TCMP Pwani project is a true supporter of women in our rural areas. I can see this through the support of family planning methods and peer education provided through PHE champions and livelihoods supported through SACCOS. These activities have enabled me to comfortably support my family’s education to the University level,” says Fidea.

Songambele SACCOS at Sakura in Kwakibuyu village was established in 2008 with 20 members and a capital of Tshs 200,000. By 2013, the SACCOS capital had grown to more than 23 million Tanzania Shillings (Over US $15,000). Today, the SACCOS supports over 100 members who together have taken over 87 million shillings in loans.

For more on Fidea Haule, you can watch the “Healthy People, Healthy Environment,”, a film co-produced by the Wilson Center and Think Out Loud Productions: http://www.newsecuritybeat.org/healthypeople/.

 

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