Self Help Groups building resilience among poor communities in Tanzania


Bishops’ Appeal funded this Tearfund project that expanded a Self Help Group Initiative in Tanzania. People learn savings and business skills, are able to access loans for small start up initiatives in farming or at markets. As they use profits to improve their homes, food security, children’s education and build up savings for unforeseen needs, they also mentor others in their local area and use their voice as a group to lobby local Government for the needs of the wider community.



Poverty is still pervasive in Tanzania despite many initiatives aimed at eradicating poverty. The country remains one of the world’s poorest economies in terms of per capita income; despite some high overall growth rates based on gold production and tourism. The economy depends on agriculture, which accounts for more than one-quarter of GDP, provides 85% of exports, and employs about 80% of the work force.

The Anglican Diocese of Rift Valley (DRV) has been in the forefront in facilitating sustainable community based development initiatives with an objective of strengthening the role of the church in making communities become masters of their own destinies in the region.

The District was chosen due to its spiritual and economic disadvantages. The communities in Manyoni district are characterized by poverty, food insecurity, malnutrition, illiteracy, disease epidemics and unemployment. The central plateau of Tanzania is area is semi-arid and the majority of population of Manyoni District struggle to make a living from small scale subsistence farming. During the rainy season, the district receives little rainfall. 2015 for example has been hard year with excessive droughts. As a result, harvests are often not enough to meet the requirements leading to food shortages throughout the year. Some of the produce are sold, though the income gained is not enough to meet essential basic needs such as sending children to school, health services and sanitation.

At the same time, land and other local resources remain underutilized. A recent survey conducted by Tearfund and the Christian Council of Tanzania (CCT) in October 2015 found that even though 80% of the respondents in these areas have access to arable land and agriculture, as well as animal rearing is the primary economic activity, many people still suffer from food insecurity. 73% live in mud houses and use unprotected pit latrine which increase the risk of infection from waterborne diseases like diarrhoea. Access to tap water is limited and 64% use unsustainable shallow wells, rain ponds and seasonal rivers as their primary water source. Moreover, communities have limited income which is hardly sufficient to meet basics needs like food, education and health charges. Among the population sampled, 68.6% earn less Tsh.50,000 (Euro 22) per month.

Since 2015 there has been some remarkable progress in three communities that have been mobilized through Self Help Group. 14 groups have been formed and have started saving. In all groups that have started saving, members are benefiting from loans which are directed towards economic activities (agriculture and small business investments), as well so called social loans going towards issues like education and health care. The particular approach of these Self Help Groups, the PAMOJA approach, empowers poor people to form peer support groups, make decisions and enable them to improve the wellbeing of their families and saving money together that can be invested into income generating ting activities that improve livelihoods, or reduce the vulnerability to shocks.


Subsistence agriculture with minimal and/or nor application of agricultural pest practices and work as day labourers is the main livelihood in Mayoni. Jobs as day labourers in rice farms is an unreliable source of income and takes family members away from farming activities on their own plots, leading to low harvest yields and food shortages. Many women in are involved in petty trading during the dry season, mainly buying and selling vegetables. However, limited business skills create difficulty in accessing good prices at the market, often resulting in low profits.

The Partner

mapThe Anglican Diocese of Rift Valley (DRV) is one of 27 Dioceses of the Anglican Church Tanzania (ACT).

DRV has been facilitating and coordinating members by building their capacities in evangelizing, networking, advocacy and socio-economic development for the benefit of the community. DRV in collaboration with the Christian Council of Tanzania (CCT) and Tearfund Tanzania has implemented PAMOJA projects in 13 churches and communities so far.


PAMOJA which means Together, is a self-help Group approach that involves church members and the wider community in a participatory manner through mobilization and discussion meetings. It enables and empowers people to determine how best to improve their life through forming small groups and start to discuss about their current situation and thereafter set goals and how to achieve it through the use of locally available resources.

Objectives Indicators
Goal Improved economic and social opportunities of men and women from less privileged, vulnerable and marginalized communities in Singida Region. Reduced level of poverty in Manyoni District of at least 15%. Reduced Youth migration to towns and cities in Singida.
Purpose Communities have social and economic capacity contributing to improved living standards. Increased/strengthened household income by 30%. Increased agricultural productivity by 20%.
Outputs 1.     Financial support services are available and accessible by 1,625 poor women and men including people living with HIV and AIDS, and families of the most vulnerable children

2.     65 PAMOJA groups with members who have capacity to run their own income generating activities

3.     Group members have built strong sustainable social network to help them deal with other underlying causes of poverty

Number of individuals accessing loans and are able to pay back.

Amount of money in circulation and available for making loans

Number of savings and credit groups formed

Number of new income generating activities established

At least 5 networks have been established and functional.

Reduced incidences of gender based violence

Increased number of children in secondary schools


Project Activities

The PAMOJA project aims to improve the quality of life of the less privileged and marginalized in communities through economic and social empowerment. PAMOJA groups are equipped to identify and discuss social issues through group dialogues towards developing action plans for responses that are suited to the local context. PAMOJA group members also develop skills in managing small businesses, improving access to markets, value addition, collaboration, and advocacy. At the same time, the groups develop and enforce their own bylaws and elect a leader, which immerses them into democratic structures.

PAMOJA groups are formed with15-25 members, primarily women. Members pool their savings by buying shares from within the group on a regular basis. Once they have put in an agreed amount, they can qualify for a loan to start a small business to improve their livelihoods or to meet a sudden cash need, which enables them to respond to sudden shocks. The series of practical training skills is undertaken for the group by facilitators.

The approach creates an atmosphere that enables individuals and communities to address social issues that affect them to realise their potential and to be empowered to work towards their own development. It combines the establishment of savings and credit initiatives with training in small business skills, understanding and developing markets and on how to develop a business plan. It also includes establishing avenues or opportunities to address social issues to help them reduce poverty, beyond savings and credit initiatives. It builds the capacity of group members to respond to their problems and come up with lasting and sustainable solutions. When PAMOJA groups are formed, members first select each other based on characteristics such as trustworthiness, honesty, reliability, and punctuality. It is important for successful membership that participants are seen as hard working, of good standing within the community and that they can demonstrate the ability to save. Members tend to select others with a similar social status to themselves.

Once a number of groups have formed in an area, a Cluster Level Association can be formed. This is usually at least one year after individual groups have been developed. A cluster is made up of 10 to 15 groups within an area. Each group chooses one governing committee member from each group to represent their group in the cluster. Cluster groups are supported financially for administrative costs through a fee from each PAMOJA groups. The Cluster has oversight and develops a wider vision for all groups. They are involved in the development of the community in terms of infrastructure and facilities. Social issues are also taken up by the Cluster. The Cluster can mobilise their member groups when lobbying and advocating for change.

So far, the above activities resulted into the formation of 20 groups with a total of 369 members and a total saving of Tsh. 28,321,000 (US$ 14,1605). Despite the good work in place, there are gaps to be addressed for the project to remain underway and the desired outcomes to be achieved.

The focus of this project is on taking it to the next level through further strengthening the capacity of CRPs and the quality of PAMOJA groups. In regard to the above this project will therefore cover the following activities:

  1. Train Community Resource Persons (CRPs) in group leadership and management skills.
  2. Train CRPs in income generating activities, business skills, while strengthening economic knowledge.
  3. Facilitate trainings to PAMOJA groups on agriculture and best practices of animal husbandry.
  4. Provide close follow-up, monitoring and onsite technical assistance towards project quality and ongoing learning. This helps to encourage, identify gaps and address them immediately, and closely monitor the progress of the project in the ground.

Target Group

  • Direct: This project focuses on form at least five groups in each community with 25 people, leading to a total of 65 groups with a total of 1625 direct beneficiaries, as well as 26 community facilitators trainees (CRPs) who are selected based on qualifications and gender (75% women and 25% men) are carefully chosen under specific guidelines and standards.
  • Indirect: About 6,620 community members, including family members and children, will indirectly benefit from increased household’s income and loan services that will be provided.


Category Number of people Percentage
Direct Indirect
Men (over 18 years) 400 1600 20%
Women (over 18 years) 500 2,000 30%
Boys ( up to 18 years) 315 1,260 25%
Girls (up to 18 years) 440 1760 25%
TOTAL 1625 6620 100%


Anticipated Impacts

This project will improve lives of people in the following ways:

  • Economic

The majority of group members will be competent to initiate viable income generating projects (e.g. using modern agricultural skills, animal husbandry and trading) which enables them to increase their income towards meeting their household needs (including food, clothing, and health needs; as well as sending their children to secondary schools and vocational trainings).

  • Social

PAMOJA members will form strong bonds, which enables them to support each other in coping with sudden shocks and challenges. They will support other community and household members in need such as orphans, as well as people with chronic illnesses, etc. They will also be engaged in social activities in the wider community such as construction of dispensaries, schools and roads. They will raise community awareness on environmental issues, including the importance of planting trees, the importance of sanitation and working together.

  • Spiritual

The local churches will embrace PAMOJA and be able to reach out with a complete gospel of transformation. This will attract more people to join the church. This may also translate into more offerings to support the pastor and other people in need.

  • Political

Clusters will facilitate PAMOJA group members to lobby to the government and local authorities for various issues that affect their lives including land rights, access to potable clean water. They will be active members during elections and it is expected that some will have increased confidence to stand for elections and become political leaders.

All these form a strong sustainability component of the project. It is an inbuilt long term developmental impact that recognizes the importance of the community’s involvement with its own growth. The design and implementation will ensure the project continues to make an impact in the community in the long term.


Budget: A total of € 14,400 is requested in support of the PAMOJA project.

PAMOJA tools 1,300
Economic strengthening 2,600
Trainings 3,900
Monitoring and Follow-up 1,300
Recruitment of Project Staff 1,300
Agricultural Best practices 2,600
Tearfund Ireland Project Management 1,400