COVID-19 (the Corona virus) is a global disaster, one which is affecting the entirety of the worldwide population. People are losing loved ones, businesses are closing down, and many non-governmental organisations, like our own, are beginning to feel its implications.
During these difficult times, we are adopting various techniques to keep our operations up and running to ensure our day-to-day work can continue in a manner that is safe and socially responsible. To overcome this global situation, we have made changes in the way we work, adopting all measures appropriate to look after the health and safety of our staff and the communities we work with. This includes teleworking for the next few weeks, as well as monitoring government and health authority advice on a daily basis. As we conduct widescale fieldwork across eight districts, we are continuously assessing the situation on the ground in the places where we work to monitor the impact of COVID19 on our teams and local communities we are working with.
Our many projects, including tree planting, are dependent on the participation of both community members and Field Officers to ensure their success and longevity. However, due to the spread of coronavirus in Tanzania, it is with great sadness that we have decided to put a halt on field visits for the time being, a situation that we will reassess in one month’s time. This is not a decision that we have made lightly, but we reiterate that the health and safety of all those involved in our work comes first and foremost. This choice was made consciously to reduce the potential to spread the virus to vulnerable communities where healthcare is limited, and impacts could be severe.
As it is rainy season in Tanzania right now, we have a limited number of projects running at the moment, so the impact is currently minimal. Whilst our field officers will no longer be assisting in tree planting in communities across Kilwa District, we are confident that the communities themselves – in particular, the Village Natural Resource Committees – have the knowledge and capacity to continue nurturing and growing seedlings across their three nurseries, situated in Mchakama, Nanjirinji A and Liwiti. Contemporaneously, MCDI Field Officers continue to maintain our office tree nursery where we have an abundance of seedlings growing.
Fortunately, however, it’s not all bad news! We currently have an ongoing largescale project aimed at enhancing the social, economic and environmental benefits of forests, expanding across Ruangwa, Nachingwea and Liwale Districts, supported by the Forestry and Value Chains Development Programme (FORVAC). Field Officers involved in this project have been located on-site for an extended period of time ensuring its successful implementation; thus, we have the advantage that they are able to continue working on the project whilst remaining isolated with little or no risk of contracting or spreading the virus. Whilst we are hopeful that COVID-19 does not have a prolonged effect on our work, we are aware that this might not be the case. We are taking it day-by-day, aiming to ensure that we can continue our work in whichever way possible and adapting to the new global climate. Our commitment is to maintain the health and safety of our staff and those living in rural communities whilst continuing to tackle deforestation and improve livelihoods – even if it means working remotely for a while!