For several years, TDT has been working with VSO volunteers, through its TDT VSO Small Grants Scheme.

VSO volunteers may apply for grants of up to £450 approx, to help overcome an obstacle to their project, or a pressing need that they have identified in their community.

Sometimes these comparatively modest grants can achieve remarkable leverage.  Here, Justice Muchati reports from Mahuninga, Iringa, on the impact of a grant for bee hives.

When you read it, we’re sure you will agree that this was £450 very well spent! Justice explained the problems his community was encountering:

“Beekeepers had a challenge of accessing the modern beehives because of the cost and poor economy. Modern hives yield more (25kg) unprocessed honey, compared to 8kg from the traditional type. The modern hives are user friendly for all genders… in contrast to the traditional log type which are normally hanged on tree branches and that makes it very difficult for women. Traditional models use destructive method of harvesting to the bee colonies and this has led to uncontrolled wild fires. Again the traditional hives are normally harvested during the night which further compromises the quality of the honey because of poor lighting. Further to that bee keeping has been done in an uncoordinated fashion, the beekeepers have no specified market intelligence and lacked quality training skills.”

Justice’s goals, towards which the TDT grant contributed, were  to modernise beekeeping in Mahuninga through training and distribution of Tanzanian top bar beehives;  and to suggest ways which can further benefit and sustain beekeeping groups through soft skills and market linkages. So far, Justice reports the following progress:

The transformational effect can be judged best from the words of one of the beekeepers, pictured next to one of the traditional, pot-style hives:

“My name is Fatuma Mbambati, I have been doing beekeeping on a very small scale for the past two years. I am a resident of Mahuninga village and there are a lot of bee colonies around because there is abundancy of trees including the mango. There are many other cultivated crops like sunflower which constantly provide flowers for bees. I have been doing beekeeping using these pots and I am pleased to say that through your help we are now going to see the real financial benefits of doing beekeeping. Beekeeping is very important as a source of livelihoods, you get money to supplement household needs, you can use honey for making the local beer, also have some for home consumption. I have been getting 3kg of honey, from this pot hive. From the training, and now I realise that the Tanzanian top bar beehives are very easy to handle; you can harvest a lot of honey and you can harvest any time of the day without killing the bees and the quality of the honey is going to be good. I am so grateful, keep on supporting us.”

Read Justice’s full report (PDF), including a host of interesting photos.