By Gero Fischer
In a four-part series, URBANET takes a closer look at specific projects that contribute to making cities more liveable. This fourth and last part describes how a Tanzanian and a German municipality partnered up to contribute to climate protection – and to also collaborate on other issues.
Hospitals need light for operations, heat for infant wards and cooling systems for medication, which means that power outages can have grave consequences. This is a problem that Mkomaindo Hospital in the Masasi District of Tanzania, Africa, knows well, but one with which it no longer has to live. Since 2014, it has had a solar power unit on its roof with battery storage capacity which provides electricity to the hospital during power outages. The unit is one of several projects which have arisen from a climate partnership between the Masasi District and the Enzkreis District of the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg.
It all began when Tanzania contacted the German County Association (DLT) to enquire about the possibility of a German district entering into a partnership with the Masasi District.
The Enzkreis District signalled its interest and received the first delegation from Tanzania in September 2011. The two partners were also joined by the Service Agency Communities in One World (SKEW), which was looking for districts to get involved in its 50 Municipal Climate Partnerships by 2015 initiative. This project brings municipalities together and helps them develop partnerships. Initial meetings were organised in Tanzania and Germany in 2012, with both districts beginning work on an action programme.
Involving the population
But how do districts go about developing new partnerships? “We hadn’t had any involvement with Africa prior to this,” says Angela Gewiese from the Enzkreis district office. She oversees the climate change mitigation and district development unit of Forum 21, which deals with voluntary activities in the district. So why not ask local residents? Between 20 and 25 people responded to a newspaper appeal from the district. Almost all of them had direct links with Africa and many even with Tanzania. “They brought with them experience that we lacked as a district,” says Angela Gewiese.
An initial series of projects followed. Students from two vocational colleges worked as part of an inclusive project involving disabled and able-bodied students to build solar cookers and solar lamps for households in Masasi. The SKEW initiative Partnership Projects for Sustainable Local Development, conducted on behalf of BMZ, saw four small biogas plants built in Tanzania. The project also provided the necessary funding for the construction of the solar power unit on the hospital roof. The partnership is unique because, although the pilot phase of the “municipal climate partnership” was concluded in 2013, the actors have systematically expanded the cooperation arrangement, even beyond the climate partnership. Hospitals are working together and doctors are engaging in dialogue with each other. A number of school partnerships are also being forged. Volunteers established a partnership association in 2012 which collects financial donations and funds smaller projects. The next major project, involving the installation of solar power units at smaller health centres in the region, is already in the pipeline. It will provide the centres with light and refrigerators. Project partners always work on a peer-to-peer basis. “We don’t come up with the projects in Germany, rather they are devised directly in the partner district,” says Angela Gewiese. She explains that the ideas often come about during local visits by delegations, and that both parties then jointly consider whether and how they can be implemented.