My trip to Tanzania & Kenya for St. Patrick's Day 2023
Updated: 4 days ago
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.