Empowering young intellectuals to tackle Tanzania’s agricultural development challenges-Case of Eliafie Mwanga
Mr. Eliafie Mwanga, a Tanzanian, completed his MSc in Irrigation and Water Resources Engineering in 2015 at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, with funding from the Innovative Agricultural Research Initiative (iAGRI). iAGRI is a USAID Feed the Future Project aimed at strengthening training and building collaborative research capacities of Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and the Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MALF) with the goal of improving food security and agricultural productivity in Tanzania. In the past five years, the project engaged with RUFORUM to facilitate placement of 31 young Tanzanian scientists to pursue their master’s degrees at nine selected RUFORUM member universities in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Upon completing his studies, Eliafie returned to Tanzania to work with the Ministry of Water and Irrigation as a civil engineer where he has been providing technical support and oversight in construction of earth fill dams for irrigation. With him as a technical leader, he assembled a strong team which constructed a 6,600,000 m3 earth fill dam for sprinkler irrigation and domestic water supply in Sikonge District. This dam is meeting the water needs of the people in the district.
Eliafie attributes his success to the multidisciplinary, practical-oriented and innovative nature of the master’s course at the University of Nairobi and the soft skills enhancement training he received through RUFORUM. He is thus equipped with technical skills in engineering as well as skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, leadership, and teamwork. In the course of his work, he has encountered several challenges, but this strong foundation has enabled him to overcome these obstacles with ease. Without a doubt, the skills enhancement trainings organized by RUFORUM built his leadership skills and have given him a professional edge:
“I am successfully leading a team of professional engineers and surveyors in carrying out feasibility studies and dam construction. Although I am a junior member of the team, I am technically knowledgeable and equipped with leadership skills. That’s what makes me different”, says Eliafie Mwanga.
Eliafie‘s story demonstrates the impact of one agricultural scientist who has been empowered with both technical and transferable skills and is committed to improving food security and rural livelihoods in his home country, but his is not alone. Several of the other alumni of the iAGRI-RUFORUM collaboration are also contributing to this goal. A survey to track their progress after completion of studies showed that they have fully reintegrated into the agricultural system of Tanzania and are stellar performers, contributing to food security efforts in the country.