February 2017—When Asela Valonge finishes her daily shift at the local primary school, her work has only just begun. A teacher by trade, Valonge spends what little time is left in the day caring for three children and growing maize to make ends meet. Sometimes, it feels like the weight of the world is on her shoulders.
It’s not an uncommon feeling. In many cases, the average Tanzanian has yet to feel the impact of the country’s recent economic growth. Valonge’s region of Iringa also faces additional burdens: high maternal and infant mortality, a large orphan population, and one of the highest rates of HIV and malnutrition in the country.
Fortunately, Iringa is at the forefront of a bold new integrated approach to development. Under the approach, instead of relying on autonomously functioning programs to develop solutions, USAID activities in the region pool efforts and compare notes, working in tandem to maximize impact. For Iringa residents, this means a support system spanning a wide cross-section of services, including health care, microfinance, agricultural support and more.
With help from these initiatives, Valonge is taking her future into her own hands. At a routine trip to the clinic one day, Valonge was introduced to the Mwanzo Bora (Good Start) initiative, where she learned about healthy diet for her children. Meanwhile, local Feed the Future efforts such as Nafaka (Cereals) have increased the amount of maize she can grow and store, allowing her children to eat better and lead healthier lives. Thanks to better maize sales and financing from a savings and loan group under Pamoja Tuwalee (Let’s Bring Up Children Together), Valonge has enough money to invest in both her farm and her children’s education.
Feed the Future, which is led by USAID, is the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.
This support has meant better income, a healthier family, and new opportunities. “These projects have helped me improve my children’s nutrition and health, earn money for my family, and have more time for other activities,” said Valonge, reflecting on her progress. She remains busy as ever—but with a new outlook on life, she is determined to continue forging her own path.
Since 2014, USAID and partners in Iringa have championed an integrated approach through activities like these, which give Tanzanians the knowledge and resources to improve their health and livelihoods. Known today as the “Iringa Hub,” this concept first took root in Valonge’s district of Kilolo, where ongoing efforts are underway to measure impact on local residents. Results have been promising: In Kilolo alone, USAID has helped 11,550 citizens adopt better agricultural practices and nearly 2,000 improve their nutrition. Furthermore, support to 123 savings and lending groups has helped over 3,800 members access financing in addition to funding school fees, class materials, food and shelter for vulnerable children. These efforts spell a brighter future for not only Valonge and her family, but all of Iringa.
Last updated: February 28, 2017