Tumaini Matutu: With learning the sky is the limit

Tumaini Matutu, Koordinatorin des von HORIZONT3000 implementierten „Enabling Rural Innovation“-Programms (kurz: ERI) bei der Partnerorganisation Act Mara in Tansania, war auf unsere Einladung in Österreich. ERI ist eine von HORIZONT3000 verschiedenen Organisationen und Universitäten in Ostafrika (und der BOKU Wien) entwickelte Methode, die Bäuerinnen und Bauern drei Vorteile bringt: Ernährungssicherheit, Marktorientierung und nachhaltiges Wirtschaften. Klingt nicht spannend, ist es aber, da dieser partizipative Ansatz seit 2012 ungemein erfolgreich läuft. Warum das so ist, verriet uns Tumaini im Interview.

Why did you start working with the ERI approach?

Tumaini: We have been working with many different approaches before. In 2012 we decided to work with the Enabling Rural Innovation Approach because when you look between the lines of the approach, it is more improved like other existing approaches. They tried to take most of the positive things from already existing approaches and put it in a more strategic way and it has been simplified down to farmers. We have teaching support, we have the training manual, we have individual aid – the farmer, who never had the opportunity to go to school, is able to understand the approach.

The philosophy behind ERI is called „farmers in the driving seat“ …

Tumaini: Yes, that is our motto, that’s our theme: putting farmers into the driving seat. Why are we saying it? Because we don’t do anything for them rather do it with them or they do it themselves. So they become the engineers of the development process. We trainers are just co-drivers. This is real empowerment.

How does this work?

Tumaini: The ERI-approach has five pilars. It accomodates a lot of that training. Actually 90 % is only training, you talk of planning you find it in ERI, gender empowerment ERI can give you the answer, you talk of the entrepreneur skills and marketing Enabling Rural Innovation has the answer, you talk of sustainable natural ressource the ERI has an answer, you talk of processing, action plans, monitoring, research so ERI is really broader approach. Also when you talk of agro enterprise it can be accomodated within the ERI approach.

Can you give us an example where you felt really happy about?

Tumaini: There is one group we where working with in 2016. We sent 2 representatives to the farmer fair, it’s commonly known as „Nane-nane-show“. It’s a big agricultural event which is organised once a year, and it brings all the actors in agriculture together. These two representatives from one of our groups went there for learning and when they came back – we always reflect about what they did learn – they said: You know, in our area there is no water and no constant supply of fish, because we are far from Lake Victoria, so we want to start our own fishpond. It will improve the nutrition and it we will also get an income out of that. And that‘s so great with ERI approach, we, the implementing organisations, don’t provide anything but when we were doing our ressource mapping, we saw that there is a river down there, which is rarely used. Currently they have already 20 ponds, and they have a contract with a tourist hotel, where they are selling their fish. And, they also improved the nutrition of their families a lot with that. And that makes us really proud as an organisation working with that approach. And there are farmers now, who are training other farmers in the fish sector. I could not do that, but they are empowered and able to do it. And they do it in a very good way.

How many people are reached by the projects?

Tumaini: In my region we have 64 groups and every group has approximatly 25 people. So we reach about 1600 households.

What makes the cooporation with HORIZONT3000 and the DKA special for you?

Tumaini: The cooporation we had with DKA and HORIZONT3000 is a mutual understanding. It‘s not someone imposing something and one becoming a reciever. It‘s mutual-agreement, so we‘re free to give ideas as an organisation and they are free to give us their opinion and it‘s not that they are only giving us money. I can say it‘s a two way communication, we are actively communicating with them. Actually I normally don‘t call them partners but rather collaborators.

You have been here now for one week in Austria, and you have been to Gent, Belgium, too. How was it?

Tumaini: It was a very good experience, exchanging lots of ideas, meeting your network, I‘m so overwhelmed to be here, meeting people I know, I thank God for.

I always say to myself: with learning the sky is the limit!