Dodoma’s Foodway will create productive and regenerative food spaces across the rapidly expanding city. The community garden in Msalato, implemented by INTERACT-Bio, marks the start of this forward-thinking vision and will serve as a model for others.
INTERACT-Bio is mainstreaming the benefits of urban nature into urban planning. The project seeks to find better ways to use and manage urban nature in fast-growing cities and the regions in Tanzania, India and Brazil. It is implemented by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.
The Dodoma community farm is one of three demonstration projects in Tanzania aiming to showcase how, if nature is embedded into urban planning, it can enhance human well-being and provide socio-economic opportunities whilst addressing wider issues such as environmental degradation and climate change.
WHAT IS A FOODWAY?
Foodways, a novel approach to land use pioneered by Inhabit Earth, are corridors of productive landscapes that form a living partnership between human communities and natural systems, each continually regenerating the other. Through principles of regenerative agriculture, foodways enable communities to have a greater degree of ownership of their food security.
WHAT IS REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE?
Regenerative agriculture is based on the ideas and ethics of permaculture: “people care, fair share and Earth care”. Permaculture uses practical and holistic solutions to imitate and cultivate the diverse closed loop systems seen in nature – systems that thrive for many years and produce no waste. The concept is often applied to food systems, but permaculture offers the opportunity for people to transition to live in a more eco-friendly and sustainable way. Permaculture is grounded on 12 principles that guide people on how to adopt sustainable practices. Permaculture ecosystems and natural systems differ in that the majority of species in the cultivated and re-designed ecosystems are intended for the use of human consumption.
Regenerative agriculture is considered to be a form of permaculture by some, as it focuses particularly on the health of the soil and ecological system as a whole. There are a number of principles also applied in regenerative agriculture practices and one of the potential benefits is the contribution it can make towards combating climate change. Permaculture and regenerative agriculture are often applied in transformed landscapes and settled areas and agricultural lands, where regeneration and rehabilitation of the environment may be needed.
INTRODUCING THE MSALATO COMMUNITY FARM
The project identified Msalato as an urban area in need of regeneration and rehabilitation. The aims of the Msalato Community Farm are to:
1. Develop a community farm with the capacity to produce food and materials that meet (and eventually exceed) the needs of residents, with a vision that it will contribute and add value towards a creating foodways across Dodoma and its bioregion and to build community; enhance the local environment; and create resilience in the face of the threats of climate change and biodiversity loss
2. Inspire a larger movement in Dodoma towards food security and food sovereignty, emerging from the bottom up and supported from the top down; and regenerates the land, the people and forms part of a larger purpose
3. Enable the community to build their capacity to grow regenerative livelihoods on various levels; understand their potential to contribute to the project and the larger vision of establishing a foodway across Dodoma and becoming more resilient.
A COLLABORATIVE EFFORT – WHO IS INVOLVED?
The development of the Msalato Community Farm in Dodoma has been made possible by collaboration and contributions of many. It is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety through the International Climate Initiative (IKI) which is funding the INTERACT-Bio project INTERACT-Bio is managed and coordinated in Tanzania by ICLEI Africa, ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center and the UFZ Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research. The implementation on the ground is being undertaken by BORDA Africa, Nipe Fagio and Inhabit Earth, with the support from the Dodoma City Council and the residents of the Msalato Community.
To make sure the voices that matter are heard, BORDA Africa, Nipe Fagio and Inhabit Earth have been engaging and working closely with the Msalato community members to regenerate the ecology of the Msalato site, to create a vibrant and productive landscape.
Image 1: A Google Earth aerial image of the Msalato site (demarcated by the red points)
Image 2: A photo taken during the site visits depicting what the site looks like on the ground
WHAT HAS BEEN DONE?
The project kicked off in February 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic brought about some unforeseen challenges and delays to the inception of the project. With ongoing uncertainty, ICLEI Africa and the implementation team adapted their initial approach in order to get the project moving. Through correspondence with the Dodoma City Council, via letters and emails, the team made a request for a short list of possible sites for the project. In August 2020, the Dodoma City Council provided ICLEI Africa and the implementation team with a short list of sites. BORDA Africa and several city representatives visited each site to gather information, evaluate the sites and take photos. This information was presented to ICLEI Africa and the rest of the implementation team and the most suitable site, Msalato, was selected for the demonstration project.
About the site:
The Msalato site is a government owned site situated approximately 15km outside the Dodoma City Centre and covers roughly 4 hectares. The site was previously used for agricultural activities, such as growing cash and food crops (millet, maize, cassava, ground nuts and sun flowers). Residents of the Msalato community live around the site, with a secondary school in close proximity. Socio-economic activities in the area comprise of small business centers and an agricultural and livestock market on Saturdays. There is also future potential in the area, as this part of the city is believed to be earmarked for the development of the new Dodoma international airport, due to the quick access to the city centre via the paved road.
Following the site selection, the BORDA Africa and Inhabit Earth team starting conceptualizing the design for different components of the community farm using the regenerative agriculture concept and a Google Earth aerial image. The design of the different components was then presented at a workshop with the Msalato community members, city council representatives and other relevant stakeholders. The workshop was held in March 2021 and was an opportunity for the community, city council representative and relevant stakeholders to contribute towards shaping the design for the site into something they would like to see in the area.
Image 3: Group discussions during the community co-design workshop in March 2021
Image 4: Participants that attended the community co-design workshop in March 2021
BORDA Africa and Inhabit Earth incorporated the discussions from the workshop into the final design for the Msalato Community Farm. The design was finalized in May 2021, with the implementation team then beginning their preparations for the implementation on the ground over a few weeks, beginning at the end of June 2021. The design for the community farm comprises several phases and, as part of the INTERACT-Bio demonstration project and available funding, Phase 1 will be implemented. The community and Dodoma City Council do, however, have the design and when additional funding is secured, will be able to implement the next phases. The concept and idea behind the design is that the community farm has long term sustainability and can expand as and when it is possible.
On-the-ground project implementation began at the end of June 2021, when BORDA Africa, Inhabit Earth and Nipe Fagio travelled to Dodoma and started work at the Msalato site. During this time the site was measured and marked by the team and the earthworks and shaping of the different design components were completed. The Msalato community was also engaged during these activities and some community members provided support in the shaping of components. A water exploration survey was also conducted during this time to evaluate whether a borehole would be a reliable and affordable source of water, as water is a critical resource for plants to become established once planted.
Image 5: The Msalato Community Farm design which is being implemented
Image 6: The community getting involved in the earth moving and shaping of the different design components in June 2021
Later this year, once the team set up a reliable and affordable water course, the community and implementation team will start planting. The water source will enable the community to nurture the plants until they grow and produce and seasonal rains begin. To ensure the project’s sustainability, community members will also be trained on establishing and caring for the different components of the farm during the planting and once the implementation team have completed the first phase of the design. By empowering the local community and encouraging agency, they will take responsibility for the project going forward and train others in the community to ensure its completion when the funds become available, ultimately providing the Msalato community with a beautiful, natural space that not only combats climate change, but also provides health and nutrition to their people.