Field work

Water pump

21.01.2011 - From the VEOs office in Majalila, we could see how the local women and girls were accessing the local water source.

Local blacksmith

21.01.2011 - In Igalula, we found a local blacksmith producing and sharpening mainly axes. As raw material, he uses shock absobers from Landcruisers.

Internet connection in the bush

21.01.2011 - Working in the bush is not easy. As Ewald has to deal with some issues from the HQ, he even had to climb the Landcruiser to get better internet connection. Lucky he found a spot with reasonable connection after driving around for a while...

Start of field work Mpanda

21.01.2011 - Since Wednesday, we are finally in the field, conducting interviews. We decided to go to Igalula and Majalila, two villages in the ward of Mpanda Dogo. On Tuesday, we were introduced to the local village executive officer (VEO) by an extension officer of Prokon. The picture shows us describing our project and arraning to meet the subvillage heads on Wednesday morning.

Arrival at Prokon

18.01.11 - On sunday afternoon we arrived, after a long trip on rough road, in Mpanda. Although we (more precisely Harry) had severe problems with the immigration authorities, we met Mr. Francis Nyanda yesterday. The lead agronomist of Prokon welcomed us in his office and helped us with the sampling process. We meanwhile identified two villages we would like to conduct research in and hope to be able to start tomorrow. The picture shows the team durin a guided tour in front of the recently installed oil presses at Prokon.

Indicator ranking

16.01.11 - On the FGI yesterday, the villagers were asked to rank the indicator set developed by local and national experts by using - beans.
Men were given red, women white beans and they were asked to show their opinion whether an indicator is important or not by adding 0 to 4 beans in the voting box. The results were satisfying: We got fastly accurate results whereby the opinions were not potentially modified by opiniom leaders. We will use this method again in Mpanda and Kigoma to come up with comparable results.

Last data collection in Laela

16.01.11 - Yesterday, the team conducted successfully a last focus group interview in Lalea. Aim was to discuss the sustainability indicators developed by national experts and rank them in accordance to their relevance for the situation in Laela.
Additionally, 2 members of the team interviewed owner of generators in town to leran more about the setting, the performance and the fuel consumption.
The friendly villagers wished us good luck for our research and we hope to increase their livelyhood with our research.

Start of 2nd field survey

14.01.2011 - Since tuesday, the team is travelling to the field work locations again. With us are Anton, our driver, Teresia, Phillip, Thadeus, Julius, Ewald and Harry.
Although we faced some difficulties on the way (engine, battery and tire problems) and rough road conditions as the rain season started in Rukwa, we arrived savely in Sumbawanga yesterday evening. Today, we will meet, again, governmental officals, to get permission to do research in Mpanda. We hope to arrive there on sunday and start working on monday.

Seasons greetings

20.12.2010 - As I do not know whether the internet situation will stay stable, I publish now my very African \"Seasons Greetings\". I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Tanzania! Hope to see you all as soon as I will get back from Africa!

Harry in Usambara Mountains

20.12.2010 - As Götz and Jand back home on Saturday evening, I (Harry) remain here alone. Therefore, I decided to spend Christmas in the Usambara mountains, as the heat at the coast is not takeable any more. I will try to analyse some of the data collected so far and also to go hiking in this beautiful biodiversity hotspot. The picture shows my tent at the \"Irente cliff lodge\".

Last evening with the girls from Wuppertal

20.12.2010 - Friday evening, Katrin and Katherina from the Wuppertal institute left back home for Christmas. We are happy that they gathered most of the information needed and especially that they got an ide about how Tanzania works... We also found out that the perspectives of the \"field team\" and their point of view differ - it will be intersting how to translate this into a policy recommendation...

Last view to the Ulugurus

20.12.2010 - last morning view to the Uluguru Mountains from our hotel window...

Data adjustment workshop Tandai

20.12.2010 - During our last workshop in Tandai, we collected data about various issues like water prices, tree purposes and prices for land. Most impressive was the fact that each participant could distinguish 52 different trees and could exactly name their purposes (firewood, timber, fruits tree, cah crops, etc.)

Decentralised energy production in Tandai

20.12.2010 - During our visit in Tandai last wednesday, we discovered that an entrepreneur started to do business by installing a mini-grid, sadly enough not based on Jatropha oil but on fossil diesel. HE has not reached the break even point, but the number of his clients is continously increasing...

Impression from a sunday hike

14.12.2010 - On sunday, Götz, Katrin, Anna, Katharina and Harry hiked up to one of the highest peaks of the Ulugurus: The Bondwa (2150 m). We left at 8.30 am in the morning and came back at around 7 pm - a very long day. On the way back Anna discovered a \"lizard\" which turned out to be a chameleon...

Anna Segerstedt left today

14.12.2010 - Anna Segerstedt from the University of Hannover left Morogoro this morning and will fly out tonight after conducting an additional interviews in Dar. We hope you will have a good flight and thanks for helping with the research :-)

Transport in Tanzania

14.12.2010 -This picture gives an insight about the transportation situation for the team during the high times of the workshop. Leaning back was not an option...

Team members from Wuppertal

The team members from Wuppertal are presenting their preliminary findings at the workshop. Additionally, they are requesting, like the team from ZALF, data from the partcipants.


This picture shows the audience of the workshop while listening to the team from Wuppertal Institute.

Panel discussion

Yesterday as introduction, a panel discussion took place. The seven experts discussion issues of sustainable biofuel production agreed that an inclusion of small scale farmers in crucial for the overall success of biofuel developments in Tanzania.

The coordinators at work

This pciture shows Stefan Sieber, the overall project coordinator who arrived only yesterday evening in Africa, and Dr. Götz Uckert while presenting the project structure of Better-iS to the audience.

Outreach of Better-iS

This picture shows a half page article about our meeting which was published yesterday in one of the national english newspapers in Tanzania: The Guardian. The team is very happy about this success as it indicates how well connected the Better-iS project is and that we will be able to supply our findings to the important stakeholders in politics, media and industry.

Impressions from the workshop 2

This picture shows Anna Segerstedt, a PhD student from the University of Hannover, presenting her findings about Jatropha plantation in Morogoro.

Impressions from the currently ongoing workshop

This group photo of all participants was taken yesterday after lunch directly at the Millenium Hotel which is situated in Bagamoyo, directly at the beach. Apart of some confusions and delays, the meeting was successful until now and the data collected was useful to our studies.

Last questionaire adjustments

Before Götz, Ewald and Harry left for Dar and the 2nd Better-iS Workshop, last explanations were given to the team of enumerators. Since then, Jan is organising the research on the ground and, as we heard yesterday evening, everything is fine in Lalea and the quantitative data collection is going on successfully. In addition, Jan is proceeding with his expert interviews and is convinced to come back with a comprehensive data set.

Animals 3

Hippo outside the pool

Animals 2

and huge amounts of Hippos, packed in the last pools of the rivers. We hope for them that the Vuli rain season will start soon.

Animals 1

On the way to Mpanda, we crossed a national park where we could see numerous animals such as an this giraffe…

Successful meeting with Prokon

During the last two days, Götz and Harry travelled to Mpanda, approximately 5 hours driving North of Laela. Here, they met with Jessica Parcy from the German bioenergy company Prokon, which is running a project to produce biofuels from Jatropha. The meeting was very interesting and Better-iS will start with a survey in four Prokon outgrower villages in the first week of January 2011.

Map of Laela village

As main outcome of our first village focus group interview, we possess now a map of Laela, which shows all details necessary for our research.

1st workshop

In this moment, we are in the break of our first focus group interview: The resource mapping. Aim is to give us an overview how the village locks like and especially how the locals perceive resources such as water, forest and suitable agricultural areas.
In the nxt days we will intensify the qualitative reserach as Götz an Harry will leave to Mpanda (5 hours driving) for two days to get an overview over the next reserach site where a german bioenergy company is planting Jatropha.

Image from missionary

The missionary we are staying in is a school for agriculture to support the young children from the area. As no machinery is available, all transport is done via oxes.

Arrival in Laela

The team arrived in Laela and is staying in a missionary school just outside town. Since today, we also have a \"mama\" who is cooking for us in the morning and evening. We have no electricity and only have water for 1,5 hours per day but the rain seasons is just starting, so we are happy that we have water at all.
The picture is showing one of the houses we are staying in - in the forefront a barrel where our water is heated in the morning.

Transportation in rural Tanzania

Transportation in rural Tanzania often relies on bicycles – no matter how packed they are

Arrival at Sumbawanga

The team left Mbeya yesterday morning and arrived yesterday afternoon in Sumbawanga – the biggest settlement around. The road was only dirt road, which resulted in orange dust nearly everywhere. During our trip, we rested in Laela village, the first research site we will be based. The “village” is more a little town than a village and we arranged to stay in a missionary hostel there which even got electricity from solar panels. All in all the infrastructural development is much higher than in Tandai village. Tomorrow we will meet the regional authorities to introduce ourselves and we will arrive in Laela tomorrow evening – inshallah.
Picture: Truck on the dirt road


Arrival at Ruvuma village while hiking to morning site farm (Meike, Harry and Jan)

On the way

Better-iS is finally moving! After problems with the car back in Dar, Götz arrived yesterday evening with Ewald and our enumerators – we were lucky and Theresia and Julius are again on board. This is not only positive because they became friends during the last data collection but also because they do know the questionnaire very well.
Sadly enough we left our colleagues Meike and Severin from the ReACCT project behind, but we could not convince them to join us… Well: They got their own work to do.
As goodbye trip, Jan, Meike and Harry climbed again up to the Morning Site, an old German settlement in the Ulugugu Mountains. Although very tough, we enjoyed doing exercise again after all these days of sitting and talking.
An hour ago, we arrived in Mbeya in the very South-West of Tanzania. From now on, only 5 hours driving on rough roads and we will arrive in Laela, our first destination. We hope to be there by tomorrow lunchtime.
The picture shows the team on “Safari”, which actually means “journey” in English.
From the left: Götz, Theresia, Jan, Julius, Ewald and Geoffrey (our driver).


The team arrived safely in Dar on Saturday morning and is currently in the process of organising everything to start to Laela – the first destination. We spent the weekend with acclimation and a short trip to Bagamoyo (1 hour north of Dar es Salaam) on Sunday.
Today, Meike and Severin, our colleagues from ZALF arrived as well to proceed with their data collection for the ReACCT project.
Apart from a small incident with one of Götz tooth, that could be solved this morning, we are all in the best mode, waiting to start!
By tomorrow, we will probably leave to Morogoro, where we spent a months in June, and on Saturday we plan to arrive in Laela.
Luckily, we were able to employ again Julius and Theresia for the fieldwork who know the questionnaire and became friend during the last survey…

Village doctor

While being in Doga for GPS logging, Jimmy and Harry tumbled into the consultation-hour of a local medical assistant. At this time, the babys and infants of Doga were measured so that the mothers know better what to feed. While Jimmy helped to lift the kids up to the weighting machine, Harry had to step back: Too many kids started cying when they saw him. This is one thing Anja and I will not miss - making kids cry just being present.

Video Show

This picture shows a newly built \"Video-Show\" here in Tandai - the African version of public viewing. It was especially built for the World Cup ( at least one other show is in the process of being constructed) and shows how important this event is for the Africa. Anja and Harry already watched the game of Bayern Munich against Inter Milano and we have to say: Africa is a soccer continent!

GPS logging so far

This picture shows a screenshot of the preliminary GPS logs in Tandai. We are convinced to complete the data logging until we leave the village next wednesday.

GPS logging succefully started

While Anja is digitalising the questionaires (all in all around 10.000 pictures), Harry is busy with GPS logging of all interviewed households. This is going very well, especially because Jimmy is helping a lot. Currently, three villages are logged completely (Tonya, Doga & Kisambwa) and tomorrow, he will start a big trip with Phillip to go to Lukenge and Nyange.

Better-iS mascot

The team has a (at least semi-official) mascot: Salum, the three year old son of our cook. He is not only supporting us with sweets and fruits (although more often we support him...) but also a very loud alarm clock for food. If he is standing in front of us screeming exitedly \"Uuugali\" - we know its time for food. Additionally, he is supporting Harry on his trips to the village for GPS data collection.

Benches from the other side

Again the benches, this time from the other side. As it can be seen, the pupils got space to store their belongings. Might remind the older generation on times passed by...

New benches for the school in Tandai

As mentioned previously is the Better-iS team in Tandai involved in the collection of benches for the local school. Meanwhile, the local carpenter (and his sons) started working on our request and yesterday, already 5 benches (of the total 30 ordered) were completed. Anja tried them yesterday and they proved, as one can see, as being stable and well done.
Additionally we decided to plant one tree per bench produced to not only help the local population but also the local forest.
Photo: Anja Fasse in front of the carpenters shop

Price data collection

As Friday is market day in Tandai, Anja used the chance to collect data about all available prices on the local market place. These days are also a chance for us to interview villagers from Nyange, the most remote sub-village of Tandai.
Including today, we collected 257 questionnaires from all sub-villages and are therefore very well on track. As Anja and Harry will be in Morogoro anyway on Monday for a workshop about climate change and agriculture, the whole team will take a day off to relax in civilisation.
Photo: Anja collection prices

Status report

Currently, the work is making fast progress and we are convinced by now that the data collection will be completed by the beginning of June. A problem which is still remaining are the two subvillages unreachable by car, but, as the rain nearly stopped, we hope to be able to question them when they reach Tandai from time to time.
Additionally, the focus group interviews are being successfully implemented and nice spin-offs from these do occur. One example is that the developed definition of “Environment” was copied by a member of the Environmental committee in Tandai to discuss it further with her colleagues in the village government.
Currently, Harry left for Dar to meet successfully with Mr. Donald Mitchell, former lead economist of the World Bank to discuss issues especially related to sustainable bioenergy production in Africa. Meanwhile, Anja is welcoming our third visitor as Dr. Khamaldin Mutabazi from the SUA is visiting the team on Saturday.
The photo shows the team at the local \"pombe\" shop (local brew) to celebrate reaching the half way!

Supporting the local school

As the villagers from Tandai are delivering data for our project, Anja and Harry started to raise money from friends and fellow NGOs to support the local elementary school, where benches are scarce. Meanwhile, more than 25 benches were donated and more and more people are starting to help. THANK YOU VERY MUCH !!!!!

African contact methods

This is what we found at the door of a hut in Lukenge: The owner wrote his mobile number on the door in case somebody comes to see him and he is absent. Brilliant and simple!

Getting to the remote sub-villages

To reach Lukenge and Nyange, Harry and Phillip hat to cross a couple of streams - bridges are somewhat absent in this area.

Searching the sub-village head

Harry and Phillip Daninga went last weekend to Lukenge and Nyange, the two remote sub-villages not reachable by car, to talk to the local sub-village heads to stress the importance of the data collection for us personally.
After searching for a long time, we found the sub-village head of Lukenge (very left) close to the waterfall - he felt like fish and went to the river to get some.

Village institutions and social conflicts

Today, the team conducted, with the help of the moderators Phillip and Teresia, successfully a focus group interview to understand more about the overall political system in Tandai. We learned how the village government is elected and how the different village committees (e.g. financing & construction, defense, etc.) work together. The next focus group interview, this time about the overall environmental situation and environmental degradation will be conducted next week. Tomorrow, Anja and Harry will leave to Morogoro for two days to work (with grid electricity) on a to-be-written methodological paper. Additionally, the data collection via questionnaire is going on successfully: Today, we reached 128!
The rain is still going on – and the problem with the unreachable subvillages in the mountains remains unsolved – but the team spirit is as good as ever.
Photo: Governmental system in Tandai according to the focus group participants

Status report after two initial weeks

After the first two weeks, the data collection is on track. Although we had to deal with a number of unexpected problems (e.g. sub-village heads which are unwilling to participate in the selection of interviews), we conducted 99 interviews. A big thank you goes to our enumerators who are passionate about their work and are able to conduct their interviews more or less flawless by now. As Ewald, our local coordinator, is strongly involved in the data collection process for the Wuppertal Institute in Dar es Salaam, we only see him occasionally by now. He acts, nevertheless as “city support” and supplies us e.g. with air time for our mobiles and the internet connection.
Even the rain has stopped (at least for a day), so we hope to reach two sub-villages higher up in the mountains, which are simply not accessible if the rain is too strong.
In short: Although we had set-backs, we are confident to collect the needed data in time.
Picture: This picture shows the village of Tandai as it was developed in a resource mapping workshop last Friday by selected villagers.


One of the export goods from Tandai is cinnamon.

Pineapple hill

A hill next to the river where pineapples are grown

Banana market

The local banana market on a friday - market day


One of our enumeratoors conducting interviews


Harry while measuring banana bunches at the local market.


Anton, our driver and the young brother of a sub-village head are seeking shelter in a heavy rainstorm. Masika, the long rain season, just arrived...


Another image from Tandai


An image from Tandai

Internet problems

We recently had, again, problems with our internet connection. This is, hopefully, solved for now...

The complete field survey team

Dear Blog Readers,
in the following you will find all our enumerators introducing themselves. We hope this might give you a better for our work out here.

Ewald Emil Gervas

I am Ewald Emil Gervas, the research associate of Better-iS, employed at ICRAF Tanzania. Based in Dar es Salaam, I am taking care of basically everything that is connected to the project here in Tanzania. My duties involve budgeting, data collection and currently, I am even partly responsible for conducting interviews in Tandai. I am sure that our guest researchers from Germany will learn a lot – not only about bioenergy but also about the friendly lifestyle in rural Tanzania.

Dr. Götz Uckert

Hi, I am Dr. Götz Uckert, the African coordinator of the Better-iS project. I am participating in the intial stages of the survey to be sure that everything works out fine – until now I have no reason to believe something else. Whatever happens: Congratulations to the team as I witnessed them working hard on the formulation and structure of the questionnaire on the one hand and on the implementation on the other. With that team spirit, nothing can stop us!

Anja Fasse

I am Anja Fasse and I am the “mother” of the questionnaire. If I am not taking care of my “baby”, I am working as research assistant at the University of Hannover in the department of Environmental Economics and World trade. I am sure that everything will work out here in Tandai so that I will have a lot of data to play with during the next years.

Harry Hoffmann

Hi, I am Harry Hoffmann and I guess most of you know me already. I am working as scientific assistant and PhD candidate for the Better-iS project at the ZALF in Müncheberg/Germany. The field work in Tandai is of special importance to me as I will be back in Tanzania in autumn to conduct additional field surveys in the west of Tanzania – and I guess I will very much profit from the knowledge I can gain here.

Phillip Daninga

My name is Phillip Daninga (my friends just call me Daninga) and I currently working on my Master thesis in Agricultural Economics at SUA whereby this thesis is embedded in the second ZALF coordinated project here in Tanzania (ReACCT ( This was also my initial connection to the Better-iS project and the field survey. My desire is to see whether communities here in Tanzania are ready to switch to alternative practices that will improve their livelihood and save the world from climate change impacts caused by environmental degradation.

George Karwani

I am George Karwani Mbazita and I pursued a Bachelor degree in horticulture in 2007. Currently, I am a master student at the SUA in the sector of “Management of Natural Resources and Sustainable Agriculture (MNRSA)”. My master thesis will be about the impact of Agroforestry on livelihoods as well as effective land and environmental conservation. I would like to develop my career in the direction of sustainable bioenergy production.

Theresia Gawile Itot

I am Theresia Gawile Itot and I live in Dar es Salaam together with my husband Charles and our son Charlton, who is 1 year and 8 months old. I pursued a Bachelor degree in Environmental management from Makerere University in Kampala/Uganda. Currently, I am enroled in a MBA Master program in Dar es Salaam. Generally, I am very interested in research in the environmental sector as I want to become competent in global environmental issues to be an environmental educator later in my career.

Jimmy Sianga

My duty is to take care of the save transport of the team – I am Jimmy Sianga and I working as driver and field assistant for ICRAF Tanzania. In the future, I am planning to move on and increase my driving skills to become a VIP driver somewhere in East Africa.

Julius Edward

Hi, I am Julius Edward. I am holding a Bachelor degree in “Aquatic environmental science and conservation” from the University of Dar es Salaam. Currently, I am working for the Better-iS project, as the topic of bioenergy seems to be very interesting to me.

Prisca P. Ntabaye

I am Prisca P. Ntabaye and I am a Tanzania citizen from Sumbawanga, Rukwa region. Currently I am enrolled as Master student at the Sokoine University of agriculture in the department of “Science management of natural resources for sustainable agriculture (MNRSA)”. My master thesis will potentially be about the impact of biofuels to water supply in Tanzania. After graduating, I would like to stay in Science, as my aim is to become a researcher in environmental and sustainability issues as Tanzania needs to protect its natural resources.

Thadeus B. Kisangi

My name is Thadeus B. Kisangi and I am currently working as enumerator for the Better-iS project. I am a Master student at the Sokoine University of Agriculture and taking an M.Sc. course in “Management of Nature”. I intend to write my Master thesis about the “Biofuel industry as a critical challenge to development. A case study from Tanzania”. Currently I am working with the local authorities in Mvomero district as a natural resource officer. After graduating, I would like to stay in research and science.


Our bunk-bedrooms


This is our dormitory here in Tandai. In this building, we got 4 rooms with 4 beds each. We still have to see how we organise us....

“Living room”

Our outside “living room”. We are eating here and discussing with the team about ongoing issues.


ICRAF hired a “mama” to prepare our breakfast, lunch and dinner. We need to get used to the breakfast (potatoes and breadfruits in gravy, together with Chapatti and eggs), but after 6 weeks with untoasted toast bread and a boiled egg, we are happy to get something else.

View from the guesthouse

View into another direction. It is clearly visible that most of the area has already been cleared due to agricultural production. There are, nevertheless, still trees existing to avoid erosion on the hand and to be used as timer and firewood on the other.

View from the street leading to out guesthouse

On this plot, which is partly covered by massive boulders, rice is currently produced. At the boundaries, pineapples are planted. This is one of the few fields where no intercropping is taking place.


The ICRAF Toyota Hilux who brought us here. Without him and Jimmy, our live would have been way more complicated until now.


Yesterday, we finally moved to Tandai. In the end, it was not very hard to leave Morogoro, as we stayed there for too long and were very much looking forward to start the work in the field.
It took us a whole day to move, as 12 people including luggage, water, mattresses, etc. needed to be transported (luckily we got Pauls car (a real mountain goat)).
The welcome in the village was very nice, as Götz, Paul, Chris, Daninga (one of the enumerators) and Harry found out on their first trip to the village centre. We already met a number of people who participated in our village workshop and/or the first focus group interviews. We were shown around and were surprised by the sheer number of Jatropha trees everywhere – all used as carrier plants for black pepper and vanilla.
Today, we introduced the team of enumerators to the new improved questionnaire which is completely restructured and adopted to the local realities on the one hand and to the needs of the enumerators of the other. After lunch, a group of six villagers will arrive so that a second pretest can be conducted in the afternoon. In the same time will Götz visit a number of farms to get an impression of the everyday life and the agricultural production system. We are confident that things will work out fine now, although we are aware of the important fact that the questionnaire will never be perfect – but we have to declare it as being ready!
P.S. The photo shows the team discussion the new version of the questionnaire underneath a massive mango tree close to our guest house.

First visitors

On Thursday, we welcomed our first visitors: Paul and Chris, friends of Harry from Berlin, arrived from Bagamoyo (North of Dar es Salaam). Yesterday, they moved with us to Tandai.
They left today and, especially as they are driving to Namibia, we wish them a save journey and are looking forward to see them again in Berlin for a BBQ this summer. Also Simon will leave on Sunday, but we are already invited to his roof terrace in Zurich, as nearly the complete teams of ZALF and IUW will be there for the “Tropentag” in September 2010.
P.S. (Photo) In order from the right: Harry, Paul, Anja, Götz, Simon, Chris

Rain – hopefully a good sign!

Since the first pretesting, which results showed that a lot of adoptions stills need to be done to finalise it, especially Anja, as the “mother” of the questionnaire, was working nearly constantly on its improvement. As we figured out by talking to people who already did quantitative research in a developing country, this is not frightening but normal: What the researchers develop hardly ever fits into the reality on the ground. This information, and the enthusiasm of the enumerators, got us back on track.
In addition to these developments did Harry and Götz met Simon Gmünder who is working for the swiss project “Bioenergy in Africa (BIA): Opportunities and Threats of Jatropha and Related Crops”, coordinated by EMPA (“Materials, Science and Technology” ( There are a lot of similarities between the projects and cooperation in some aspects such as e.g. workshop realisation was discussed. By chance it also turned out that Simon lived in the same flat as Harry did during his stay in Delhi – once again, the world turned out to be a very small place!
Tomorrow the team will finally move to the village. The mattresses are bought, the final version of the questionnaire is nearly ready (it will be published on this website soon) and the rain started to keep the villagers in their homes, waiting to be interviewed: A good sign ;-).
P.S. As no “rainphoto” was available: The nice view from our guesthouse in the valley – including waterfall

Exceptional interview partner

Harry while trying to discuss important aspects of childhood in the typical African upbringing process with Rashid, our youngest participant (8 months).


Ewald Gervas moderating the discussion on the second day.


Aishi Kitalyi moderating the development of the sustainability indicator set on the first workshop day.

Better-iS village workshop conducted and completed

During the last two days, the “Muzungus” (Anja, Götz & Harry) conducted, in cooperation with ICRAF (Ewald, Aishi, Mathew) our local village workshop to answer questions which are urgently requested for the final adjustment of the questionnaire.
During the first day, a wide range of topics was covered, but the focus was especially on the development of a comprehensive set of sustainability indicators, which are needed as baseline for Harrys PhD and the participation of ZALF in the Better-iS project. Especially the development of social aspects was highly problematic (as well as in the Kick-off workshop at SUA), but at least we were able to e.g. define specific bird and monkey species as indicator species for human influence on natural habitats. It needs now to be discussed if and how we are able to quantify social indicators - or whether they should totally be based upon qualitative expert interviews. Furthermore, we learned a lot about the woodfuel supply in Tandai and especially about the existing agroforestry systems. On the second day, the morning was packed with discussions about the used energy systems in Tandai and we learnt, to our surprise, that already 20% of the electricity used are created by using solar panels. In the afternoon, the sustainability indicator set was adjusted and, especially important, ranked. Sadly, we were running out of time to that the transfer of the developed indicators into quantifiable data is left for Götz and me. All in all we might have to rely on the indicators developed during the SUA workshop as the scientific outcomes of village workshop were rather limited - but we had a good social start!

beyond easter

If everything works out, Götz and Ewald will leave Friday 9th to fly to Kigoma at Lake Tanganyika in the West of Tanzania to meet Dr. Hamimo Hongo, who is the deputy director of FELSIA, which is involved in the decentralised production of biodiesel from palm oil; produced on 4.000 ha on his own farm and additional through 900 farmers in outgrower schemes. They will be back 4 days later to join Anja and Harry, who meanwhile pretested the last adjustments on the questionnaire, to get the first week of the village survey started.
The Easter holidays will be packed with work as the program for the next week needs to be organised and prepared in detail.
In short: Happy Easter holidays from Tanzania!

Meanwhile in Dar es Salaam

Meanwhile, Harry met with Erick Kabendera on Thursday (01.04.) who is working at “The Guardian” (Tanzanias biggest English newspaper) in Dar es Salaam to get more insights about the public debate concerning biofuels and land grabbing in Tanzania. Erick could supply us with very valuable contacts in Tanzania and the UK and might also attend our next workshop in autumn. Additionally, Harry met with some people form the national representation of the DED to get more information about their work in Tanzania and briefly introduce the Better-iS project.

scheduling village workshops

Together with the extension officer and the accidently present WEO (ward executive officer) from Kinole Anja and Götz discussed and agreed dates and participants for the upcoming events: Next Tuesday (06.04.), a first focus group discussion will take place to assess and confirm the preliminary cropping plan, which was developed in cooperation with the village extension officer on Saturday. On Wednesday and Thursday (07/08.04), our “big” village workshop will be conducted including representatives from ward and village, all income groups, heads and farmers from sub-villages (gender balanced), indigenous knowledge keepers as well as relevant members of the village committee and NGO representatives active in the sector of agriculture, forest conservation and environment in Kinole. Due to our still problematic visa situation, ICRAF will be the official host and Dr. Aishi Kitalyi will be present in the village as well. In this meeting we will present the project to the attending audience, develop the final set of sustainability indicators and adjust the questionnaire to the local realities.

Meetings in Kinole

Although Anja and Götz caught a flew at the beginning of the week (the rain season finally arrived and we checked: It is not Malaria!) they both had a very successful trip to Tandai on Wednesday afternoon. After finding the office closed they met all the officials and villagers at their monthly village assembly held under the trees near the primary school.

Cropping plan for Tandai

After our unsuccessful trip to Tandai yesterday, we were able to meet the extension officer for Kinole today in Morogoro to discuss with him especially the cropping plan of the area but also to learn more about the agricultural habits in Tandai itself. Some very interesting facts are that e.g. the plantation of bananas is always taking place on best sites, which are in Kinole mostly in the youngest agricultural areas at the top of the hills recently cleared. This indicates that the quality of the soil on these plots is declining dramatically due to soil erosion – could bananas therefore be used as indicator species for change of soil quality? This needs to be further evaluated in the field next week.
Ewald left us today to fight for our Research Visa in Dar es Salaam – if he will be back until Wednesday, our first focus group interview will still take place this month (31.03. ).
Photo: Cropping calendar page 1


Today, Jans Bobert, a member of the Better-iS Partner project ReACCT left Morogoro to fly back to Germany. He helped us a lot, especially with GPS data management and GIS related questions, but a very fruitful cooperation with him could also be established. As a result, a first paper between the team of ZALF and IUW concerning the overall economic and agricultural modelling of Jatropha is initiated.

African surprises

Our plan for the day was to discuss with the extension officer in Kinole especially about potential cropping plans and a date for the village workshop - but the African reality prevented this. Half way to Kinole, the street was blocked by locals who were in the process of cutting down an old tree at the side of the road. As they were only working with axes, they made us choose between a) going to Kinole but stay there for a couple of days as it will take time to remove the tree from the street (there is only one road) or b) turn back and try it after the weekend. Today was an office day…

Dehulled Jatropha seeds

A local worker dehulling Jatropha seeds at Mr. Kabirs farm. She manages do extract 15 kg of Jtropha seeds per day.

Field trip: Mr. Kabirs farm

On Wednesday, the project team, a representative from JPTL, a representative from Kinole and a guest researcher from the partner project ReACCT conducted a field trip to a former Sisal plantage (Madoto Estate) in Kilosa/Morogoro. The Estate is managed by an Indian farmer, Mr. Kabir, who showed us around again (the team already visited him in autumn last year) as he is currently experimenting with Jatropha on high input level. Especially the comparison between the plant size and the yields in Madoto and Kinole showed impressively how big the potential of Jatropha is, if managed well.
Mr. Kabir supplied us with all data he collected and this will provide us will valuable insights of potential large scale Jatropha plantations.

Local farmer in discussion

A local farmer is discussing about the economic viability of Jatropha in Kinole - she came to Morogoro for the first time in her life to participate in the workshop.

Workshop successfully implemented

On Monday and Tuesday last week (15th and 16th of April), the present Better-iS team (ZALF: Götz Uckert, Stefan Sieber, Harry Hoffmann / IUW: Anja Fasse, Anna Segerstedt, Etti Winter / ICRAF: Aishi Kitalyi, Ewald Emil) conducted a highly successful and satisfying local kick-off workshop at the Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro.
A variety of different stakeholder was presents, which consisted out of governmental representatives (Ministry of nat. Resources and Tourism), NGOs (e.g. JPTL), industry (FELISA; Kakute), researchers (SUA), potential Master students of the project and representatives of the chosen case study area Kinole/Morogoro.
The first day was characterised by the presentation of the project, its potential implementation on the ground and the potential and desirable outcomes for the local villagers.
In this context, especially the local farmers helped more than once to ground the discussion and adjust the project boundaries to the realities in the field.
In general terms, a number of bioenergy related topics were presented such as e.g. the global dimension of bioenergy, the potential for certification and export as well as the national situation in Tanzania. Furthermore, the special focus of the project was discussed. The program as well as the related presentations will be downloadable from this homepage as soon as possible (and internet is available ).
The second day started with a brief presentation of SAM and Village Model, a discussion about IUWs role in the project and a wrap up of Monday. Following this, the participants were divided into three groups which discussed for the rest of the day about sustainability criteria for bioenergy production in Kinole and their potential quantification. This discussion was, although sometimes surprising, highly fruitful to ground the ideas of the research team and allow a first brief look onto the realities and systems to be found in the field. Especially Anja and me (Harry) are now more curious than ever as we will be confronted with new ideas and different ways of perceived reality: What we will bring back from the field will be more than just data…

Cleaning of market products

On the way to the Morning Site farm, the team could observe how a local farmers washes and bundles his carrots for the market

Whistling techniques

A team member trying to learn how the locals whistle in the mountains.

Workshop, Master students & Guests

Since the last entry, a lot happened to the Better-iS team here in Morogoro.
The first thing is that the organisation of the workshop is making progress and we are confident that the event will be a full success. Inquired reserachers and practicioners will mostly attend and we will have very valuable input for the design of the indicator system.
Furthermore, Ettie Winter from IUW in Hannover arrived and is helping now with the adjustment of the questionaire and the sampling to the local conditions. Stefan Sieber from ZALF is currently on its way and will arrive in Morogoro on Thursday afternoon.
On Tuesday, the whole team conducted interviews with potential Master students and very promising individuals and abstracts could be identified.
On the weekend, parts of the team hicked to the \\\"Morningsite farm\\\" in the Uluguru mountains to learn more about the local agricultural practices.
In short: All members are well and the team spirit is more than alive!

View from guesthouse

View from Kinole Guesthouse to the Uluguru Mountains

First days

The team consisting out of Anna Segerstedt, Anja Fasse (IUW), Götz Uckert and Harry Hoffmann (ZALF) (see photo) arrived after a long day safely in Dar es Salaam on Monday evening. The day after, we had a briefing at the ICRAF office with Ewald Emil Gervas, the local bioenergy specialist. Together with him and Jans Bobert, a member of ZALF working in the partner project ReACCT, we moved on Tuesday evening to Morogoro to follow up with researchers from the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) after our preliminary visits in June and October 2009.
Until now, we met with Dr. Mutabazi from the department of Agricultural Economics and Dr. Zahabu from the Forestry Department. Both had good news for us:
Concerning the Master students Better-iS is going to support, already 6 students submitted abstracts of their potential projects which were corrected by Dr. Zahabu. The team is going to meet these students for more detailed discussions on Tuesday.
Additionally, our research visa are nearly ready – we hope to get them by Monday.
The team visited the case study village Kinole for the first time today and it seems as if it is highly suitable. The village heads are willed to cooperate, Jatropha plants can be found and a guesthouse with a meeting hall is existing (see photo).
In short: we had a very good start and our project is making fast progress!


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