Category Archives: Reporting

Why We’re Heading to South Africa Tomorrow #SocialGoodMomsJoburg


Building global connections both online and offline is the cornerstone of Mom Bloggers for Social Good. Tomorrow I, along with Social Good Mom and Global Team of 200 member Elizabeth Atalay (@elizabethatalay, Documama), will travel to Johannesburg to meet Social Good Moms partners as well as meet fellow Social Good Moms who live in South Africa. It’s going to be a great week, full of discoveries, education, and information and we’ll be sharing all along the way! We will start our meetings and site visits on Tuesday. We hope you follow our journey.

Follow all of our coverage with the #socialgoodmomsjoburg hashtag.

– Jennifer James, Founder, Mom Bloggers for Social Good

[Photos] Motherhood in Tanzania #IRPTZ

Dar es Saalam, Tanzania – Throughout my travels in Tanzania for the past ten days every time I saw a mother and her baby I smiled inside. And I was even more happy to see mothers breastfeeding their babies as breastfeeding has been proven to be a key intervention to keep more children under the age of five alive in developing countries.

Maasai Mother - Mkuru

Tanzania, unfortunately, is one of ten countries where 65 percent of the world’s child deaths occur. Compared to India, the country with the most child deaths at nearly 900,000 per year, Tanzania’s child mortality rate is low, but for it’s population size, the percentage is quite high.

Mother and Daughter in Morogoro, Tanzania

Tanzanian mothers lose 48,000 children a year (17,000 on the first day of life). Most newborns die due to asphyxia, infections, and preterm birth here. Additionally, the maternal mortality rate in Tanzania strongly correlates to the child mortality rate. In Tanzania, maternal anemia rates due to malnutrition are leading to 20 percent of all maternal deaths. And in the rural areas, where most Tanzanians live, expectant mothers typically do not have a trained birth attendant to help deliver babies and only 50 percent of Tanzanian mothers give birth in a health facility. These factors contribute to the high maternal and newborn mortality rate. In fact, Tanzania loses 454 mothers per 100,000 live births due to complications during childbirth.

Mother and Daughter in Morogoro, Tanzania

There is good news, however. The Tanzanian government is including key interventions to reduce child mortality included in its National Road Map Strategic Plan to Accelerate Reductions of Maternal, Newborn and Child Births which was devised in 2008 and has an end date of 2015 to reach Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5. While the child mortality rate in
Tanzania is improving, maternal mortality rates have remained stagnant.

Mothers, Iringa

Mother and Daughter in Morogoro, Tanzania

Mother and Son in Iringa, Tanzania


Save the Children

Reporting was made possible by a fellowship from the International Reporting Project.

All photos copyright of Jennifer James

Visiting the Tech Set in Dar es Salaam #IRPTZ

It was interesting this week to see a slice of the tech scene in Dar es Salaam. We visited KINU which is a collaborative innovation technology space for app developers, startups and those who work in the tech industry to further their learning. KINU also provides tech education for children, an initiative they have been steadily growing.

“If we can teach young kids how to work within a system and process we can actually get them to see problems within our society and begin tackling those problems, said John Paul Barreto, Co-Founder of KINU. “So we didn’t have to look outside to see an explanation about how to make Tanzania better.  We can utilize the energy of the Tanzanian youth to change society.”

KINU also makes concerted efforts to involve women in technology as they are largely misrepresented in the technology sector in Africa and the world over for that matter. Hosting “Girls Night Our” events, KINU works to get women in the same room together to explore technology together and to improve their standing in the technology space not only in Dar es Salaam, but also across the continent.

The day we visited KINU a guest lecturer from Canada conducted an animation workshop for roughly fifteen students using Toon Boon animation software. Because these workshops are in such high demand, one Kenyan woman, Naomi, rode a bus 24 hours to learn at KINU and improve her knowledge about technology and animation as she works in the tech sector in Nairobi.

KINU also strives to bring various stakeholders together in order to solve global health problems from maternal health to devising ways to spread the word about family planning through apps.

“We want to bring the different stakeholders together,” said Taha Jiwaji, co-founder of KINU. “Everyone is looking at problems from different standpoints or trying to solve those problems. How can technology enable them is where KINU comes in. A lot of our initiatives are meant to bring these stakeholders together.”


Reporting was made possible through a fellowship from the International Reporting Project. 

Covering Agriculture, Poverty, and Hunger in Tanzania

In nine days I will be traveling to Tanzania as an International Reporting Project (IRP) Fellow to cover agriculture, poverty, and hunger.  As you may recall I also traveled to Zambia this summer to cover infectious diseases as an IRP fellow. This trip promises to be a eye-opener to me as I rarely concentrate on the subject. Typically, my concentration rests on women and girls, maternal and child health, and infectious diseases. Since so much of Africa depends on agriculture I look forward to uncovering how subsistence farming, agriculture, poverty and hunger affect daily life, particularly that of women and girls.

During our time in Tanzania we will be visiting several programs and sites that deal specifically with poverty and hunger alleviation through agriculture including a Feed the Future and One Acre Fund site.

According to Feed the Future, Tanzania (a country of 42 million) has a 68 percent poverty rate. Agriculture accounts for 25 percent of Tanzania’s GDP. Additionally, and even more importantly, agriculture employs over 75 percent of the population.

Tanzania has recently laid out a framework, the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (NSGRP), to alleviate poverty and to create sustainable development of the economy. The goals of the framework consist of improving rural infrastructure, irrigation, mechanization, research and development, farm inputs, and increasing renewable natural resources. For example, Tanzania has an irrigation potential of 29.4 million hectares, but only irritates .33 million hectares, an area that statistically needs increased investment and an overhaul of goal setting and national improvements.

The Tanzanian government understands that to reach certain agricultural and economic benchmarks they must invest more of its national budget in the agricultural sector. In 2010 – 2011, only 7.78 percent of the budget was allocated to agriculture. Although the Tanzanian government pays for most agricultural investments there is some foreign direct investment in crop buying, but the investment numbers have been low due to supposed risks in investing in agriculture. While Tanzania is widely encouraging private investment in its agricultural sector, investments have been low. However, development partners including the Government of Japan, the World Bank, Irish Aid, International Fund for Agricultural Development and African Development Bank have pledge $315.5 USD towards improving Tanzania’s agricultural sector. The overall costs of the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty implementations, however, total $2.1 billion USD.

I look forward to exploring these issues while in Tanzania. You can follow along here on the blog as well as on Impatient Optimists, Babble, Huffington Post, as well as on our African Global Health and Development digital magazine.

I will be in Tanzania from September 30 – October 9.

Source: Creating an Enabling Agricultural Policy Environment

Photo: United Nations | Fred Hoy

One Man’s Anger: When the Global Water Crisis Hits Home

When I was in Zambia in July reporting on infectious diseases, something happened one day while visiting the N’Gombe compound in Lusaka that really made me think critically about the global water problem and how extensive and intricate it really is.

While we sat inside the small, tidy home of a family that was affected by tuberculosis and listened intently to their personal story we simultaneously heard an N’Gombe community leader ranting and shouting outside the home to the other half of our group who waited for their chance to interview the family. As I sat there listening to the man’s shouts coming in clearly through the windows I wondered why he was so angry. Was he mad because western journalists were intruding on the residents’ space again? Did we do something to upset someone in the community? Thankfully none of those scenarios were true. We never want to unknowingly disrupt. He was angry because of the lack of water for families in his part of the N’Gombe compound, a settlement of roughly 80,000 to 120,000 residents where he was a community leader.

Looking back at that moment I am convinced the man didn’t know who we were, but I am quite sure he secretly hoped that collectively we could pull some strings and bring water to that area of the compound. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. We were a group of foreign journalists looking at HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria in Zambia. Despite that, he wanted someone to hear and feel his frustration about the lack of water access, even if he had to take a chance on filling the ears of westerners who weren’t there expressly to see the water problem. He later calmed down after being asked what his problem was by our Zambian translators.

After leaving the tuberculosis patient’s home, our group decided to listen to the man’s story and we followed behind him at a quick clip down a dirt road to personally see the reason for his intense ire. It turns out that even though pipes had been laid in his section of N’Gombe no water flowed. He was angry about it and quite honestly, who could blame him? The pipes had been so long without water that kids in the community had ruined the taps where water should have flowed abundantly. His point was that if the water flowed, the taps would not have been damaged. Today they sit not working and a constant, everday reminder of how far people (mostly women and girls) must walk each day to purchase water.


He then took us a little further down the dirt road to a borehole that had previously been paid for and dedicated by a former N’Gombe resident who had studied at a western university and had become a successful businessman. The borehole had apparently been dedicated in a huge ceremony that brought out community members and city officials in droves. Now, it no longer works and sits rusted and useless.


In N’Gombe there are now water kiosks where residents can buy clean water, but they are not placed in close proximity to every resident. Judging from the man’s anger I could clearly see that access to water is a perpetual problem for many in the community.

As he continued to tell us about the problem I looked around at people going about their everyday lives. Merchants sold vegetables and bags of coal. Kids ran and played oblivious to the world’s problems. Teens milled about together seemingly in their own world looking at their phones. And then I looked up and saw this advertisement on a pole right under the man who was complaining.


I’m certain it just added fuel to the fire. I couldn’t believe the irony.