Before conducting the focus groups, we asked the Village Executive Officer (VEO), Simon J. Kyuno, for help in randomly selecting 15 households to participate in two focus groups. The VEO sent letters to the 15 households requesting their participation. Ultimately nine households elected to participate in the focus groups, which was a great response and households from all three sub-villages of Ihanu Village were represented.
The aim of the focus groups was twofold. First, they allowed us to feedback the results of the household survey to the community and to initiate discussions amongst Ihanu villagers concerning important issues. Steven Kalinga, member of the village committee, commented,
“The focus group discussion helped us as a community to realise issues that we had no idea existed, such as the fact that eight percent of the community households still defecate in the bushes.”
Second, the focus groups allowed us to hear the opinions of the Ihanu villagers regarding the NRM project, both good and bad. One villager brought up a potential future challenge villagers will face as a result of the NRM project,
“We are concerned that by planting more trees in our village, we will create more homes for baboons and monkeys. The baboons and monkeys attack our crops and due to the government restriction on killing them, there is nothing we will be able to do to protect our crops and our source of food.”
Despite, the concerns shared by villagers regarding the project, the community of Ihanu are extremely welcoming and pleased that Raleigh and the Tanzanian Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) are working with them on the project. The ongoing management of the tree nursery will provide the village with a sustainable source of wood that will prevent further deforestation and aims to raise awareness and improve knowledge of issues concerning the environment. Steven Kalinga, stated,
“Raleigh helped our community in terms of environmental education. During Action Day, they taught us how to make a rocket stove, and also, the lessons in the local primary school are raising awareness of environmental issues amongst our children. That’s very important because they are our next generation.”