STOP PRESS! Power and Water crisis


ZAP supporters who are on our mailing list, will know that a major health crisis has developed in Zanzibar because there has been a complete power cut to the whole island since December 10th. The power comes from mainland Tanzania via a system which has completely broken down on the Zanzibar side. Efforts to repair it have failed, and full restoration of power is not now expected for a long time.





Please see more details of this exciting and ground-breaking initiative on our Projects page. (click here ).



NEWSLETTER – December 2009












































But none of this would happen without the generosity of you, our stalwart supporters. You make a real difference to a community which desperately needs all the help it can get, and we hope and pray that we can continue with our work for many years to come.

As ever, we are extremely grateful to all the people who make things happen through ZAP in Zanzibar, especially Mr Pandu and Mr Vuai. We run them ragged during our action-packed visits, but they are always willing, cheerful and optimistic. ZAP is incredibly lucky to have such friends.

The Clinic, the Nursery Schools and the Sewing Ladies Co-operative are all going well. Some 90 ladies have now completed sewing courses, with many more clamouring to join. The Nursery Schools are flourishing; as ever it is a joy to visit them, especially at ‘porridge’ time. Dr Hamza works extremely hard in the Clinic, sometimes under very tough conditions, such as the frequent power failures that seem to dog the island. We provide him with antibiotics for the children, and Mr Pandu sees to it that the Clinic upholds its reputation as the best equipped for miles around.



Building work at the new Academy is progressing apace, and we hope to publish some photographs on our website soon.

Therefore the new ‘Chuo cha Jambiani’ is to be our main educational focus for the foreseeable future. The subjects taught will be English, Maths, Geography, Kiswahili and others. We will do our best to provide textbooks, guided by the advice of the two teachers, and because the Academy will be outside the auspices of the Ministry, it should be a little easier for ZAP to sponsor volunteer teachers who are keen to go out to Jambiani and help in their specialist subjects.

He also know at first hand how significant these tutorials have been; Simon Oliver (ZAP Volunteer English teacher from Canada who, with his wife Nan, spent 6 months in 2008/2009 in Jambiani School) reported that the brightest and most successful kids only succeeded by regularly attending them. Those in Form V and Form VI in Stone Town, currently receiving modest sponsorship from ZAP, were all pupils of Vuai and Suha, and we feel strongly that the time has come to throw the full weight of our support behind them.

However, the main function for the airy new room will be as a Private Academy – or ‘Chuo’ – a facility common to many villages, but currently lacking in Jambiani. For years now, Mr Vuai and Mr Suha (retired schoolmasters) have given their services entirely voluntarily to tutor ambitious and hard-working pupils after school – sometimes far into the night. They have taught many students in small dark rooms, deep within the hottest part of the village, year in and year out - and they have never asked for, or received a penny for their efforts. Janie has witnessed the classes on several occasions herself, having been invited as a ‘guest’ English teacher, and she can vouch for two things – the extremely primitive conditions, and the enthusiasm of all those taking part.

The second big development in our activities is also well under way. We have been given the opportunity to link up with Mr Vuai (JFW Administrator above), at his premises on the main village street – an excellent position, opposite the Post Office. ZAP is helping him extend, renovate and equip the room, which will have much needed aircon, in return for partial use as a rent free ZAP office. We shall move our Internet there from the school, where a Swiss charity is set to take over the Computer Room; also taking with us the small ZAP Lending Library. The School Library, set up by ZAP/VSO Volunteer Liz Rose, will remain. Mr Vuai will continue to manage the ZAP Internet facilities in his new premises, which will fit in well with his computer lessons and JFW administration.


‘Chuo cha Jambiani’


ZAP Office/Internet Library

Situations can change quickly in Africa – ‘expect the unexpected’ is always a good motto – but at the moment we could hardly have asked for a more encouraging outcome. If all goes according to plan, our boys will be able to take on apprentices from the village, thus spreading the benefit of the initial investment. It is hard to overestimate the value of technical skills in such a poorly educated community, and we hope that the JFW will flourish, expand and prove to be a useful template for effective aid in other areas.

Meanwhile, the applications have been sought in Jambiani for two further fundi students – this time carpenters – who will start their training in Stone Town in January. In due course, they will join the JFW. In the future, we hope to train general builders/masons, for whom there is certainly great demand.

All 7 fundis are immaculately turned out in new navy overalls, emblazoned with ‘JFW’ badges. After work each evening, they attend classes given by Mr Vuai in good business practice (Invoicing, Job-cards, Diaries etc.) Janet has made them individual business cards and flyers on which the words ‘Quality – Efficiency – Reliability’ are prominent. You would have to be familiar with normal Zanzibari working practices to realise what refreshing ideals these are! Little wonder that they have found good jobs so quickly.

The car mechanics were potentially a bigger worry, since the funds necessary to set them up on their own would have been difficult to find. However another bit of luck resulted in an introduction to, and subsequently several meetings with a single-handed garage mechanic who owns premises in Paje, just 10 minutes up the road. This extremely nice man is building an excellent reputation far and wide, even servicing the nice new Mercedes and 4x4s of government ministers (!). ‘Mr K’ has a good site, is looking to expand his business and is very keen to welcome our two mechanics into his company next year. ZAP will contribute by providing them with a couple of ‘piki-pikis’ which will enable them to deal with breakdowns, and some modest scanning equipment which the garage is presently lacking. In the meantime, the mechanics continue to gain valuable experience, including computer diagnostics, at a big modern garage in Stone Town.

We were amazed to find on our arrival that all the ‘boys’ were already gainfully employed – largely due to Marcus’s excellent marketing skills. The electricians had completed a major new installation at a new private residence, and were highly commended by the owners who wrote them a glowing testimony. They, and the two plumbers, are now working full time on a large new luxury hotel complex (74 rooms) owned by a German company, and are expected to be employed until well into next year. The Site Manager and his foreman, whom we met on several occasions, are delighted to be able to employ local labour for the first time; they speak highly of their skills and have complimented them also on their initiative and enthusiasm. The ‘RAC’ fundi, who has been working in hotels locally, will join them on the building site after Christmas. Working with modern up-to-date materials, and under expert supervision, this is the best possible start; an invaluable experience for all 5 of them.

The setting up of this project has been masterminded by Marcus Collie, retired Accountant/Business Manager and ZAP volunteer who has dedicated the past three months to this daunting task. Working with great tenacity and energy, and with the help of a local ‘steering committee’, Marcus has had quite an uphill job of it – you can read his interim report elsewhere on the website – and ZAP is immensely in his debt, as indeed are all the young fundis themselves.

In overall control of the JFW is Mr Vuai, ably assisted by Mr Pandu. Mr Vuai is a long-standing friend and an excellent teacher, whose IT classes have been sponsored by us for many years now. He will supervise all the work undertaken by the fundis, including patiently teaching them basic business methods. We have provided him with a Honda ‘piki piki’ to facilitate his work, and to enable him to market the project widely; to visit sites, carry tools and supplies etc.

ZAP has rented 2 secure lock-ups in the village as a base for operations. The fundis’ tools, materials and spares are housed here. These tools – a hefty but necessary investment - have been bought with funds made available to ZAP by a generous donation aimed at this specific project; in due course suitable transport will also be provided. Both tools and transport are to be the sole property of the JFW, but the lads will be expected to pay a percentage of their wages towards ongoing running costs.

As you may have read before, ZAP has been training 7 fundis at Technical Colleges in Stone Town for the past 3 years – 2 electricians, 2 plumbers, 2 car mechanics and 1 Refrigeration/Aircon engineer – who all passed out of college with excellent results this year. For seven raw, relatively deprived boys from a remote fishing village to have accomplished this is remarkable, and they would not have done so without the infinite pains taken by ZAP Director, Mr Pandu. His pastoral care and encouragement has played a key part in their success.

Our main focus over the past three months has been setting up the JAMBIANI FUNDI WORKSHOP (JFW). (Fundis are skilled workers, or tradesmen). This is a most exciting project for ZAP, and we believe it is the first of its kind in Zanzibar.

Pat, Janie and ZAP Assistant Janet Lane undertook a Field Trip to Jambiani in November, in somewhat trying conditions. Zanzibar is experiencing a freak heat-wave, far hotter and more humid than usual, which made our work very difficult and exhausting. Janet and Janie managed to escape for 2 hours one morning to an air conditioned office, but for most of the time the heat took its toll. Temperature in the Preece bedroom was 104 degrees one night! We had to leave all doors and windows open, with the result that Janie woke up to find a comatose cat on her mosquito net. It was quite a relief to return to freezing cold old England.


This is why ZAP has set up the JFW – or JAMBIANI FUNDI WORKSHOP – an innovative co-operative of skilled tradesmen, all trained by ZAP for 3 years at modern technical colleges in Stone Town

Received wisdom is that the people of Zanzibar must be benefitting from the recent upsurge in the tourist industry, but in fact the very opposite is true. Undereducated, with extremely poor spoken English (in comparison with other African regions), the majority of the rural population is unable to take advantage of employment opportunities. Local people are very rarely employed by the hotels, which commonly import labour and skilled tradesmen from the capital, Stone Town, and even from mainland Tanzania and beyond. Fish stocks – traditionally the main source of food in rural coastal areas such as Jambiani - have been drastically reduced by the tourist economy; at the same time prices of vital commodities, including rice and essential building materials, have soared, leaving the average Zanzibari worse off than ever before.


In January 2007, a similar power failure occurred. On that occasion, we believe that technicians from Norway had to be brought in to install replacement machinery.  Our information is that the current power failure is far more serious.  Obtaining any information on the current crisis is extremely difficult, but ZAP Directors have been in touch with the British High Commission in Dar, and we are currently lobbying - unsuccessfully so far - for emergency funds to be released in the short term.   Meanwhile, ZAP has decided to pay for the immediate supply of some water bowsers to the most critical areas, and to provide necessities, including bottled water, which Dr Hamza in Jambiani clinic so desperately needs.


In Jambiani (pop. 8,000) safe water comes from 2 wells, both some distance from the village. Fresh water is supplied entirely by electrically operated pumps, and the people have had to resort to fetching it from the old unsafe and salty wells which are now running dry. The result is rapid spread of dysentery among the population, and now a cholera outbreak which has already claimed several lives.

At this time of year, the heat and humidity in Zanzibar is particularly extreme. For the tourists, and those who can afford it, life is made bearable by using generators, buying water to fill tanks and purchasing safe bottled water. For the majority of the population, one of the poorest in the world, this is not an option. They are enduring terrible hardship, whilst holiday makers and government officials merely experience some inconvenience.

Whilst it is sadly the case that there are millions of people in Africa – and over much of the underdeveloped world – without access to clean safe water, Zanzibar’s current plight is a special case. For one thing, in its tropical climate there is no shortage of rainfall – it does not suffer from drought, only from serious and longterm problems in the supply of power between the mainland and Zanzibar island.   The current disaster can and must be alleviated with political will, technical expertise and judicious use of government funds, though it is feared that the major repairs necessary to the powerline may take a very long time.  ZAP Directors have been in touch with the British High Commission in Dar, and we are currently lobbying - unsuccessfully so far - for emergency funds (for generators, bottled water, food for medical teams) to be released in the short term  to Jambiani, where the situation is particularly acute.   Above all, the people need reliable information, and reassurance that somebody, somewhere cares about them.

The root of the problem is that Zanzibar slips under the radar of both the international media, and of the large and powerful charities which work in Africa. Zanzibar is a region of Tanzania, yet many high profile organisations, pouring regular funds into the mainland, have informed us in the past that Zanzibar is not under their auspices. Why? Its people are among the fourth poorest countries in the entire world, and urgent recognition should now be given to their plight.


The village medical centre is totally overstretched, despite heroic efforts by the staff in conjunction with an emergency team of doctors. Water at the clinic has run out, and ZAP has funded the supply of water bowsers to cope with this. Many people have been hospitalised and disease continues to spread; our African manager, Mr Pandu, has collected supplies of saline drips from Stone Town. (He himself has been ill, but is now recovering). During the previous major power cut in 2007, we were staying in the village, and witnessed for ourselves the inadequate response from politicians and other aid agencies to the people’s plight. On that occasion, ZAP supplied water, torches, food for the medical teams, mobile phone credit for the doctors and many other vital necessities. A bag of rice was the contribution from a government minister.

ZANZIBAR ACTION PROJECT is a Registered Charity in the UK No. 1108030