The Story of ZAP

'a small charity making a big difference'

Zap Made A Difference

A short video illustrating some of the work undertaken by ZAP in Jambiani - particularly in the Nursery Schools and the Clinic. All our activities have now ceased, but this video includes some wonderful footage of volunteer teachers in the early days of our charity.


A love affair with Africa and the freedom of retirement are the reasons for Zanzibar Action Project – ZAP’s – existence. Retired GP Pat Preece and his wife Janie first visited Jambiani, a remote fishing village on the south east coast of Zanzibar in 2003 and were struck by the cheerful friendliness of the people in the face of extreme poverty – the majority of the inhabitants living barely above subsistence level. Returning the following year they set out to learn more, visiting the clinic, the secondary school and the main hospital in Stone Town; they also met with the Zanzibar’s Minister of Health. Some youngsters asked Janie to give them English lessons to improve their chances of employment in the tourism industry, and everywhere they found an enthusiasm for learning and a thirst for any opportunity to gain skills and qualifications which were obviously the key towards a better standard of living.

Feeling that they might be able to make a difference, the Preeces returned to the UK and, together with two friends, set about establishing Zanzibar Action Project. Their first beneficiaries of ZAP were the two young men who had attended Janie’s English lessons; ZAP sent them to a tourism college for a year, supplying uniforms, textbooks and subsidising their living and travel costs. They also took on the training of two nurses, one of whom now works full time at Jambiani clinic – and all this for a comparatively modest sum.

Two things quickly became clear: a little money goes a long way in Zanzibar, and funds sent from abroad have to be channelled with detailed precision to make sure that they reach their destination. One of the most endearing features of traditional family life in Jambiani – whose broad umbrella covers upwards of 25 members, and treats quite remote relations as ‘brothers and sisters’ - dictates that any sum of money received by one member can be used for the support of another. Thus, if a young student finds himself with an allowance of $50 in his pocket to pay for his food and lodging and his great-aunt by marriage needs an urgent operation that’s where the money goes. Several devices need to be deployed to solve this problem – but probably the most important factor is to have a competent and trustworthy Manager on the ground, and to take a very ‘hands on’ approach to each project and each beneficiary.

It seemed to us – and it still does – that the key to effective aid in rural Africa is to work within the framework of existing village structures and long established traditions, responding directly to the needs of the community and respecting the cultural differences between our societies. The strong family ethos and the deeply-held faith of the people of Zanzibar make them astonishingly resilient to their privations, and it also makes them very easy and rewarding to help. We feel it is important to respect their way of life, and to be receptive to their culture; having said that, it is clear that Zanzibaris in general, and in particular inhabitants of remote rural villages such as Jambiani are being left behind by the pace of change. Equipping young people with skills which will enable them to take advantage of the influx of tourism and the increase in economic opportunity is, in the long run, the only way forward for a village which can no longer depend upon fishing and rudimentary farming practices.

Since registering in 2004 as a UK charity ZAP has grown and flourished and is now a well known and respected organisation in the area. ZAP is a secular charity, i.e. non faith-based.


1.To provide sustainable long term aid – medical, educational and vocational – in an area of sub-Saharan Africa which is largely ignored by the major charities. Consistently low administration costs ensure that a very high percentage (average 85%) of available funds reach their designated targets in Zanzibar.

2.To work in close partnership with the local community at all levels; responding to the people’s articulated needs and providing opportunities for them to help themselves.

How we operate

Frequent visits to Zanzibar by UK Directors, assistants and volunteers are critical for good communication with the village and ongoing supervision of projects. An excellent relationship based on trust and mutual respect within the community has been established and continues to deepen. ZAP is extremely fortunate in their Zanzibari Director and Manager, Mr Pandu, who makes sure that all funds reach their designated targets. Highly respected within the community, and a senior member of the Jambiani village committee, he is a skilled communicator and ‘facilitator’ whose finger is firmly on the pulse of village affairs. Without the pastoral care of Mr Pandu, for example, our ZAP-sponsored students would not have been able to undertake three years of training at the training college, situated at some distance from the village. That every one of them have now graduated with flying colours, and is now gainfully employed, is a direct result of his unceasing efforts and wise influence.


ZAP projects are monitored regularly to ensure that they are sustainable, providing lasting benefits to as many people as possible. Some initiatives have been more successful than others, and experience has taught us where our help is most effective and where – sadly – we have not been able to make a real difference. Through learning from both successes and failures, we can feel confident that our projects have real, accountable impact on the wider community.

ZAP is fortunate in having a lively two-way relationship with our supporters through regular News bulletins delivered by email. We actively seek counsel and advice, particularly in times of emergency, as in the recent power outage crisis and do our best to keep all subscribers informed and involved.

Click here to learn more about ZAP Projects

The hard facts

Currently, ZAP’s ongoing projects in Zanzibar represent running costs of approximately £30,000 per year. Funding for certain specific projects is augmented by particular grants: for example, the setting up of the Jambiani Fundi Workshop has been supported by a Charitable Trust fund; bursaries and living costs of students in Form V and Form VI in Stone Town are being sponsored by a group of girls from Headington School, Oxford; and the training of a medical student in Dar es Salaam was entirely funded (though ZAP administered) by a doctors’ practice in the UK.


ZAP works hard to raise money in a climate which is not conducive to fund-raising. The global recession and the weakness of the pound have affected us badly, for all funds must be sent out in dollars. In addition, many people are suspicious of African aid per se, fearful of corruption and political instability. As far as possible, we seek to alleviate these fears by the transparent and efficient way in which our funds are distributed; ZAP is extremely fortunate to have a core of very interested and involved supporters and we raise an annual figure of almost £10,000 through Regular Giving donations – perhaps the most valuable form of support, because we can depend upon it year on year to sustain our current projects. Fund-raising events are held occasionally, and we have been lucky enough to be the beneficiaries of legacies and several sporting challenges undertaken by young people over the past few years (e.g. Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, North2South Cycle Ride, and the London Marathon).


ZAP’s main marketing tools are a leaflet, the website at, News bulletins and regular News Letters sent by email and by post to supporters, promotional DVDs and ad hoc media relations. We give talks to societies, guilds and clubs and we try hard to promote awareness of Zanzibar, and its need for recognition as one of the poorest countries in the world. In Jambiani, Mr Pandu is always on hand to take visitors on a tour of ZAP Projects, and he is committed and skilled at promoting ZAP’s reputation wherever and whenever he can.

Emergency Response

Though not part of the original brief, ZAP finds itself continually responding to heartfelt pleas from the community in situations of dire emergency. An example is the recent disastrous power outage which covered the whole of Zanzibar Island and lasted from December 10th 2009 to March 10th 2010. During this time the only power available was from generators. Hotels and businesses, though inconvenienced and suffering from loss of revenue, were at least able to function and those who could afford it purchased bottled water. In Jambiani, the situation was dire – the village depends entirely upon electricity to pump safe water from deep wells at some distance from the centre and the equation was simple: no power = no water = disease.

People were forced to drink the water from contaminated wells and inevitably an outbreak of dysentery and cholera ensued. An emergency clinic was set up, but many people were hospitalised, and there were a number of deaths. As the weeks dragged on, the suffering of the people became acute and ZAP received heartfelt pleas from the villagers to come to their assistance, since no-one else would. We tried our best to raise awareness of their plight in the media and at government level, but to no avail. The earthquake in Haiti made Zanzibar even more invisible than usual to major Aid agencies and we took the decision to provide a succession of water lorries to alleviate the horrible privations of the community in which we had become intimately involved. ZAP also supplemented the needs of the village clinic, buying bottled water for the patients and food for the emergency doctors. In all, our expenditure on this crisis amounted to over $6,000.

However, this is not the first time we have had to respond to emergencies caused by water shortages. In 2007 and 2008, water systems in the village broke down. In the south village, ZAP raised £5,000 towards an enormous new water tank, and in the north village – as a result of a special appeal – we bought a completely new water pump and electric motor costing £12,000.

In the aftermath of the most recent power outage, the Zanzibar Government and DFID (UK Aid Agency, Department for International Development) are paying lip-service to the need for a complete re-assessment of the underlying problems involved. These are deep-seated, and will take many years and billions of pounds to solve.

In Summary

ZAP is proud to operate at the “coal face” in Zanzibar - a particularly poor part of sub-Saharan Africa, which is largely neglected by well-known charities. We feel that we are uniquely placed to help liberate an African community from the strait-jacket of subsistence living by giving these people the opportunities and encouragement they so desperately. Though we are a small charity, ZAP makes a big difference.

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