My trip to Tanzania & Kenya for St. Patrick's Day 2023
Updated: Mar 21
I left Ireland this week laden with gifts from Laois and Offaly producers, to represent Ireland in Tanzania and Kenya as part of the Government’s 2023 St Patrick's Day programme. This is the most extensive international programme ever, to promote Ireland and Irish interests globally.
It was a huge honour to be in Tanzania to celebrate St Patrick's Day. This year we mark 100 years of Ireland in the world, and over 40 years in Tanzania. Many thanks to Irish Ambassador to Tanzania Mary O’Neill for the warmest of welcomes.
First off on my trip, I met with Tanzania’s Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Mussa Azan Zungu where I emphasised Ireland’s commitment to continuing to build on its 43-year bilateral relationship with Tanzania.
We spoke about the long and positive relationship between Tanzania and Ireland, and he expressed gratitude for the continued support from Ireland through Irish Aid and the Embassy of Ireland in Tanzania.
Ireland, has been present in Tanzania for 43 years and has been a key supporter of Gender Equality in Parliament through the UN Development Programme’s Legislative Support Programme.
Later, I was delighted to have a productive meeting with the Tanzanian Minister for Agriculture, Hussein M Bashe. Minister Bashe is prioritising young and women farmers to mobilise the huge potential of Tanzanian agriculture.
I was thrilled to learn that there is good progress in skills and training but also learnt about the challenges that exist around irrigation as well as access to land, seed and finance. I am looking forward to watching how the agriculture sector grows over the coming years under Minister Bashe.
It was a real privilege to be so warmly welcomed to Ilindi village, just outside Dodoma, Tanzania’s capital city where I was thrilled to visit beneficiaries of the Climate Smart Agricultural Programme implemented by World Food Program Tanzania and Farm Africa. The community participates in Irish Aid, Farm Africa, World Food Program and the Climate Smart Agriculture Programme.
I learnt how the programme addresses financial inclusion, improves seed availability and promotes nutrition for women and youth; and how Maize crops have been struggling to adapt to drought in recent years.
Young farmer John, showed me around his small holding where he grows millet and sorghum. John and other farmers spoke about the increased yields and higher prices they’ve been getting. The Programme also works to address post-harvest losses, which were down 12% in 2022.
The Programme works with women farmers too, to address seed access and availability, to promote positive nutrition outcomes and diversified income streams. Village community banks are also formed under the Programme, giving farmers access to micro-credit as they grow their businesses.
The village school in Ilindi has 1,300 students and 11 teachers, with different classes staggered throughout the day. Many of the children walk many miles to school each day. I was truly humbled to receive such a lovely welcome.
During my visit, I was delighted to plant a mango tree in their school garden. They have lots of trees planted - Guava and Orange too. During our visit we presented the school with some exercise books, pens, pencils and footballs. It was a truly memorable visit and something I truly will never forget.
Leaving Dodoma this morning for Dar es Salaam, after a wonderful introduction to Tanzania from our host for the past two nights, Catherine. Catherine is passionate about education and skills, public health and Organic farming.
Catherine, trains and educates young people in small scale farming and hospitality, and her successful restaurant and accommodation business is a significant local employer.
Catherine, also runs a wine making business, supplied by 700 local farmers - 200 of which are female farmers. By working closely with local farmers to promote soil health and naturally nutritious food - key principles in the food chain the world over.
The start of my journey in Dar es Salaam, I visited the Embassy to meet the staff there and learn more about their Gender Action Team and Green Team. I enjoyed seeing all the greening projects including solar panels and water and waste management.
I was excited to attend the first St Patrick's Day reception in three years in the Tanzania Embassy. Members of Government, Development, Trade, and the Irish community were present on the night to celebrate the links between our two countries through culture, music and dance.
During my visit to Dar es Salaam, I visited a paediatric cancer ward at Muhimbili National Hospital run by TLM Tumaini La Maisha. The program increases access to children's cancer services in Tanzania and is supported by the Embassy and private donations from Ireland.
Children will stay in the hospital for a minimum of 3 months for treatment. One service provided by TLM Tumaini La Maisha is the upskilling of parents while they are here, which also enables them to earn some money. I was delighted to buy a necklace and meet the man who made it.
I was delighted to meet Monica Hangi at a lunch in the Embassy.
It was such a privilege to address the St Patrick's Day reception in Dar Es Salaam. A celebration of the great friendship between Ireland and Tanzania. A truly inspiring evening. Thank you Balozi Mary and your fabulous team.
My St. Patricks Day visit to Kenya began with a mind broadening visit with Komb Green in Korogocho to view the Irish Aid supported project regenerating the Nairobi river system, where there is a very significant problem with waste in the river.
About half of Nairobi’s population live in informal settlements (slums), and with no formal waste managements systems in place, most waste ends up in the river.
This project works with former prisoners and criminals - young men and women - to regenerate the river and the banks. They have a massive challenge, but their collaborative approach and positive outlook is a huge advantage.
Significant work has been done along stretches of the river - from waste collection, to producing their own trees for planting, and putting in pathways (made from recycled waste from the river). A superb example of community engagement & circularity in action.
I enjoyed the opportunity to plant trees to celebrate St Patrick's Day with the Irish Ambassador to Kenya, Fionnuala Quinlan and Komb Green Solutions. Komb Green Solutions is a community based organisation formed by Reformed youths whose main agenda is to rehabilitate Nairobi River and to green the Riparian, Urban farming Land scaping. We were amazed to see a footpath made from plastic waste removed from Nairobi River
I was delighted to meet with the Kenya Irish Society, a group of inspiring women and hearing about the Irish community contribution to over a century, first by Irish missionaries and a strong tradition which continues today, ensuring growing connections between Ireland and Kenya celebrate. The Kenya Irish Society celebrate over 100 years of the Irish in Kenya and are a social organisation for many expatriates and their families both in Ireland and Kenya.
Ireland is a long-standing champion of global efforts to reduce hunger. I paid a call with the Irish Embassy in Kenya to Nakuru County. My visit took me to to see Hon David Kones Nakuru Deputy Governor to discuss the Ireland and Kenya partnership ranging from sustainable food systems, climate smart agriculture and education.
A real highlight of my trip was a visit to Nancy Muchai dairy farm, to see how she is putting KALRO climate-smart research into action. Nancy also has a biogas generator on her farm, producing clean energy for use at home, and using the digestate as a fertiliser for her forage crops.
Nancy and her husband were kind enough to show me their farm and their diverse farm activities and the great results achieved from increased yield to increased income.
Local co-ops take the research findings and work with farmers to train them on fodder production and utilisation, dairy management, and efficient breeding.
Nancy and her family now get 100kg of milk daily, operate bio-gas and have ambitious plans for the future!
My visit to Nakuru County with Irish Aid took me to see first hand the results of the supported Climate Smart Dairy project, which focused on increasing dairy sector productivity for small holder farmers in partnership with KARLO Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, tesgasc, Self Help Africa and SFSI Sustainable Food Systems Ireland
On St Patrick's Day, I was thrilled to give the keynote speech as Business Ireland Kenya Breakfast in Nairobi.
From the breakfast reception, I joined The Irish Ambassador to Kenya Fionnuala Quinlan in a meeting with Hon.Mithika Linturi the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development. We discussed many matters and explored areas of collaboration on agricultural matters including Ireland’s support to dairy, potatoes and cooperatives in Kenya and our joint efforts to boost 2-way trade.
I enjoyed a fascinating visit to KARLO Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization who are working with Teagasc on a Climate Smart Dairy project.
Researching animal genetics and EBI specific to different regions and their climatic conditions, for climate-smart, on-farm forage feeding systems.
I discussed drought in Kenya and Ireland’s support to affected communities through
WFP Kenya and FAO Africa with Lauren Landis and Carla Mucavi.
It was an honour to attend the celebrations at the Irish Embassy in Kenya for St Patrick's Day. It was a very special occasion and such a honour to address the reception in Nairobi.
The evening was a celebration of the great friendship between our two countries through music and dance. Thank you Balozi Fionnuala and your fab team for such an amazing event.
In my address I spoke of Ireland’s solidarity with Ukraine, and our continued determination to support. It was a pleasure to meet the Ambassador of Ukraine to Kenya, Tanzania & Rwanda, H.E. Andrii Pravednyk.
It was also a pleasure to meet Kipchumba Murkomen, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Roads & Transport, and an alumnus of St Patrick’s High School in Kenya which was established by Irish missionaries in 1961.
I was delighted to share the stage with Private Secretary of Foreign Affairs Korir Sing'Oei, who spoke eloquently and passionately about a number of issues relevant to Kenya today.
With the Irish Embassy in Kenya I visited the Machakos Government to discuss ways to continue strengthen our two countries partnership. Ireland is proud to support sustainable food systems in Kenya including Machakos.
The Deputy Governor of Machakos, Hon.Francis Mwangangi discussed two-way trade, opportunities in SEZ’s, Ireland’s support to agriculture and response to the drought and Climate Emergency
During my visit, I was lucky to take a tour of the Best Tropical Fruits processing plant in Kasolongo, Mwala Sub County alongside the Irish Embassy to Kenya.
It was incredible to see Ireland’s food systems investments in action, working to improve the livelihoods of smallholder women farmers through a regenerative and circular approach, in line with SDGs.
The last visit of my St Patrick's Day trip to Kenya was very special indeed, and it was an honour to officially open ‘Calery Hall’ a new Multi-Purpose Dining Hall at the Mukuru Promotion Centre in Nairobi. What a warm welcome!
The centre is run by the wonderful Sr. Mary Kileen, and it provides education and support for boys (aged 6-18) from the Mukuru informal settlements (slums). They also learn skills in cooking, carpentry and art.
None of this would be possible without the help from the generous volunteers and donors, who work collectively to improve the lives on these impoverished and vulnerable boys