Peoples of Mpimbwe Fund Opens Beekeeping and Milling Operations

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The Peoples of Mpimbwe Fund celebrated the opening of two of its inaugural projects this summer and has begun planning for a third in the Mpimbwe Division of Tanzania.

The goals of the Peoples of Mpimbwe Fund are to help the indigenous people of the region adjust to contemporary challenges, protect their natural environments, and preserve their ways of life and cultures. The fund relies on outside financial support, but works locally with the people of Mpimbwe to implement ideas that best to serve their communities.

In partnership with the Kibaoni Ward Environmental Conservation Society (MIMAKI), a local indigenous non-governmental organization that teaches modern beekeeping techniques, the Peoples of Mpimbwe Fund opened a building in July that serves as MIMAKI’s headquarters and as a center for clarifying and storing honey. The building, located in Kibaoni, also houses records and a library of materials useful for beekeepers.

Beekeeping is common in the Mpimwe area, but traditional techniques are environmentally damaging, said Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, founder of the Peoples of Mpimbwe Fund, a Cultural Survival Special Project. MIMAKI emphasizes ecologically sustainable beekeeping that results in better production. Borgerhoff Mulder said she hopes the attention the MIMAKI building opening drew from politicians and other leaders in the region will help fuel future projects in the area.

In September, working with local women, the Peoples of Mpimbwe Fund opened a mill in the village of Mirumba. The women of the village had determined that procurring a milling machine capable of husking and grinding maize and corn would save them hours of work with a mortar and pestle. The mill is located in a building that is accessible to both Pimbwe and Sukuma peoples living in the region.

“Many people were involved in this project: local people, politicians, and outside advisers,” Borgerhoff Mulder said. Working together, a contract was drawn up whereby the profits of the milling machine will fund future development initiatives for other women in Mirumba.

Meanwhile the villagers have drawn up the plans, and prepared the bricks, for a kindergarten building which the Peoples of Mpimbwe Fund will try to support. The kindergarten is meant to introduce children to school and initiate their learning before they enter elementary school. Most children in the area currently start school at age eight with no prior schooling experience. The Peoples of Mpimbwe Fund has developed building plans and acquired bricks, but the project still needs more construction materials before it can break ground. The Tanzanian government has promised to supply a teacher once the kindergarten is built.

For more information or to donate to the Peoples of Mpimbwe Fund, contact Cultural Survival, 215 Prospect Street, Cambridge, Massachussetts 02139 or visit www.cs.org.

Karin Oman is a Cultural Survival intern.

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