SODAT collaborates with schools and families to provide daily school breakfast from self-reliant school breakfast farms. Parents contribute banana trees and labor to prepare land and plant and harvest crops. Student-led school garden clubs maintain organic vegetable gardens and banana gardens. The objective of the program is for each school to become food self-reliant, providing students with a daily mix of corn, beans, leafy greens, and bananas.
SODAT is currently piloting the project at Mukibogoye Primary School and hoping to expand to additional schools soon.
Team: Elias, Babu Mwalimu, David, Shaphan, and (not pictured) Lydia
Ngara Ward is located in northeastern Tanzania where the borders of Tanzania, Burundi, and Rwanda meet. Most families live off small coffee, banana, and corn farms. In such a remote location, market access for buying and selling crops is a major challenge. There are nine primary schools in the ward and SODAT collaborates with three of them to provide daily school breakfast: Mukibogoye, Mukirehe, and Kabalenzi.
Most families in Ngara belong to the Ngaza tribe. Many young children and elderly people speak only Kiangaza, the local language, and do not know Swahili, the national language. Families live off corn, beans, and bananas grown on 1-2 acre arms and sell coffee as a cash crop for food and school expenses. SODAT has provided breakfast for primary schools in the area since 2010. Now they are working with parents and school administrators to start a school farm which will enable the schools to sustainably provide breakfast for students. SODAT also helps families start their own organic vegetable gardens and families maintaining productive gardens can qualify for microloans.
David Gitanga runs SODAT’s organic gardening program. He studied mechanics and Ngara Vocational College and worked as a freelance mechanic for four years before he was hired by SODAT as an assistant to the breakfast program. When an opportunity arose for David to run SODAT’s organic gardening program he happily accepted the opportunity. He enjoys continuing to learn about organic agriculture, trying new skills at his small farm, and sharing what he learns with others in the community.
SODAT works with student-led garden clubs to build organic vegetable gardens designed to provide fresh, organic vegetables throughout the year. The organization mentors the students to teach and encourage the use of best practices. Students get a daily nutrition boost as well as an education in organic agriculture.
School breakfast has proven to be one of the most efficient and effective ways to increase attendance and performance at schools. SODAT provides daily school breakfast to three schools in Ngara and those three schools have become the top-performing schools in the ward. Now SODAT is working with schools to start student-run school farms that will make the schools food self-reliant.
Families can qualify for livestock and small business loans to improve their income. When a family builds credit and proves they have consistent income they can qualify for home improvement or new home loans. These loans are focused on creating safe, sanitary, and well-lit environments that are conducive to a child’s learning.