A collection of journal entries of two students from the University of Western Ontario, Dallas Curow (June-August 2005) and Jonathan Birinyi (June 2005-April 2006). Feel free to read and explore their journey working on the Western Heads East probiotic yogurt nutriontal project in Mwanza, Tanzania, Africa.

Photo Op

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Here are our admittedly cheesy but scenic "media" shots. We've loaded them here as it is much more efficient that trying to send as an attachment.

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Baadaye (later)
Dallas na Jonathan

see below for our report. We've put it on here temporarily until we can get the attachment to work.

Goals for the current internship:

- Strengthen communication between Western Heads East administration and interns
- Develop preliminary social acceptability report
- Create and use weblog as a means of communication
- To maintain the yogurt as a safe and quality product to consume
- To ensure the sustainability of the project
- To work towards the next stages of development, as outlined below

Present and future obstacles facing the WHE project

I. WHE Administration and Communications


Interns are unclear with responsibilities of the WHE administration

- Who is responsible for:

o Coordinating with Interns
§ Keeping close communication with current interns to give detailed assessment of the project’s condition.
§ Updating incoming interns on information given above
§ Act as a liaison with interns to provide advice with questions and concerns regarding the functions of the project (not necessarily the intern’s individual roles/course requirements).

o Finances
§ Having a working knowledge of what the intern’s stipend requirements are. (i.e. determining what items can be purchased with stipend – ex. digital camera, cell phone)
§ Can give approval for program purchases
§ Actively seeking financial and/or product donors (when necessary)

- What does the WHE steering committee do?

o Are there any individual roles?
o How often are meetings held? What topics do they discuss?

II. Funding

- What is the current situation on WHE program funds?
o Is the proposed budget within WHE resources?
o If not, then are further donors being pursued? How?

- Is future funding being pursued for new interns?
o If not now, then when?

III. Social Acceptability

Please see appendix A - Preliminary Report on the Social Acceptability of the WHE Project

IV. Up scaling

a. Moving yogurt kitchen (two phases)

Phase 1: Move production into designated yogurt room and not intern’s kitchen.


- Immediate – once clearance is given for funding


- Using the intern’s kitchen was designed only as a temporary solution after electrical burners were not viable
- Yogurt mamas have expressed concerns about the height of the stove
- Production in intern’s kitchen impedes privacy
- Will make yogurt pickup by families more efficient
- Will facilitate yogurt mamas to work more independently


- 142,000 TSH (figures by B. Healy)
o Includes two gas tanks, gas line, washers, and fasteners
o Gas tanks and accessories will be transferred to Phase 2 when deemed appropriate (see below)

Phase 2: Move kitchen from the Kivulini building to a separate community kitchen: “Jiko la Maziwa Imara” or “The Kitchen of Milk Strength”


- 3-5 months – additional funding still needed to complete project.
- Construction contract needs to be seen by WHE administration. Contract has been signed by street leaders of Mabatini; however, the document is in Swahili and needs to be translated before sending.


- Separate yogurt kitchen is essential to maintaining the growth of this project
- Moving the kitchen out of the Kivulini building will free up an extra room in the intern’s apartment – allowing the possibility for three interns to have living accommodations.
- Interns are further assessing the accessibility and sustainability of the endevour
o Building would be owned by the community

Logistical Concerns:

- Site may not be appropriate given the state of utilities (e.g. electricity and plumbing not hooked up)
- Security of building at night time – guard would become costly.
- A community member needs to be trained as the yogurt supervisor prior to moving to the new kitchen
o Yogurt needs to be put in refrigeration at night – too far/expensive for interns to travel to the site daily (since they would need to take a taxi). See part d “yogurt supervisor” for more details.

b. Heifer and Kimkumaka/Acquiring livestock (Goats)


- 3-6 Months, possibly longer.
- Interns will need to meet with both agencies to determine the specific requirements for obtaining livestock.


- Acquiring livestock is essential for long-term sustainability
o Women would have their own milk source – would eliminate dependency on WHE funding for cows milk (present case)
- Kimkumaka
o Will be able to train people in the community on how to maintain sustainable farming techniques.
- Heifer International
o Will be able to provide the livestock required free of charge
o Will be able to train people in the community on how to take care of the livestock provided
- Cows not a practical solution.
o Too much land and food for the animal(s) is required


- 276,000 TSh for Kimkumaka
- 369,000 TSh for Heifer Intl.
o Both values are for training (figures from B. Healy)

Logistical concerns

- Social acceptability of goat milk consumption
o More research needs to be conducted before we can assume goats milk will be accepted in the community – through focus groups and taste tests
- Asking the families to take care of livestock themselves may propose problems
o Will they have the time/resources to accomplish such an endevour?
- Many goats would be needed to sustain the same amount milk production
o Currently, we are providing 10 or 19 L of milk per day

c. Yogurt supervisor


- This is another required asset to ensure that this project remains sustainable within the Mwanza community.
- Much of the duties of this job are currently assumed by the WHE interns
- Duties of job have been outlined in “WHE intern survival guide”

Logistical Problems

- Yogurt supervisor, if designated as a paid position, may become dependent on the income
o Can WHE provide the funds, if so for how long?
§ If money is generated from yogurt production, funds could go to paying this salary
- How would it be decided who would obtain the position
o May cause some animosity between women since this would be the only paid position within the yogurt program

V. Quality Control/Relations with NIMR

a. Separation of probiotic yogurt


- Some batches of probiotics have separated

- Simon at NIMR has tried his best to help
prevent this from occurring:
o Autoclaved anaerobic jars
o Analyzed yeast content
o Analyzed possibility of contamination,
results were inconclusive.
- Electronic CO2 chamber may work, but needs
fixing (see below “Financially supporting NIMR”).

b. Financially supporting NIMR


- NIMR has provided the service of making the probiotics, free of charge, for several months
- It would be a good gesture to show gratitude by providing some monetary contribution.
- Simon has asked to be compensated, but stated he would continue making the probiotics if nothing could be arranged.
o It seems unlikely that Simon would continue doing this free of charge for any large amount of time. This could impede on long tern sustainability.
§ If/when any yogurt was sold; contributions to Simon could be allocated from generated revenue.
- Unless proper equipment and training of a community member are available, NIMR seems to be the only place that would provide the service of creating the probiotics.
- CO2 chamber has been broken – its repair may eliminate the separated probiotic cultures
o Since arriving in June, 3L of probiotics could not be used because of the separation.


- Simon and the Microbiology Department at NIMR do not wish to discuss exact figures.
- They have expressed that any amount that WHE can provide would be fine

VI. Health Projects


- What is the status of the Western research proposal? Has it been approved by the ethics board?
o Clarification on who (from Western) is responsible for this document would be appreciated
- Interns are unsure of what their limitations are when conducting experiments with the probiotics (e.g. conducting an assessment on the reduction of diarrhea amongst people consuming the yogurt)
o Does the ethics board need to approve the proposal before we can do anything?

Western Heads East
Preliminary Report on the Social Acceptability of the Western Heads East Project
Prepared by: Dallas Curow
July-August 2005

Purpose of the project (assessment currently in progress)

Probiotic Yogurt Info (assessment currently in progress)


In order to develop a project that is truly sustainable, it is necessary to examine the specific social and cultural context of the site of the Western Heads East (WHE) project. Although the project may be an excellent and viable idea in North America, it may need to be re-tailored to fit the social and cultural differences of the Tanzanian setting. The goal of this research and report is to consult primary and secondary sources in order to gather information concerning the social acceptability of the WHE probiotic yogurt project in Mwanza, Tanzania.

A WHE intern is an undergraduate student, and therefore an amateur researcher. I have conducted only preliminary research through reading literature, conducting interviews and informal focus groups. This report is intended to be used as a tool or starting point for professional social researchers linked with WHE.

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