How To Help In Pemba

14 September 2011 | Jo Jenkins | Safari and Beach News

This is an email from one of our friends based in Stone Town:

Zanzibar is still in shock, coming to terms with a tragedy that has affected everyone we know in one way or another. The tales of loss that we hear regularly, the scale and scope of the casualties, reaches into every corner of the society, and yet it was all avoidable, need not have occurred if the usual regulations, the respect for human life to which we would hope that we are entitled, was honoured.

We still don’t know the full extent of the loss, because whilst the boat was registered to carry 610 passengers, 602 have survived (thanks in no small part to a massive effort by Nungwi-based volunteers out in dive boats and dhows at 4am in the morning) and some 300 are now registered dead, but we expect this figure to double also. The boat lies hundreds of metres under the sea, and we do not know how many people were trapped inside the hull (lots of children were onboard returning to school after Eid, and these are not recorded on official passenger numbers), meanwhile bodies are still washing up along the East African coast. Government efforts to set up registration stations are proving ineffective, as any compensation that might be due is leading to false declarations of loss.

On the ground helpers have set up website at www.saidiazanzibar.org, with bank account in the same name, and are running a fundraising campaign through this. There are adverts on TZ TV stations, national press are running full page requests on our behalf and donations are coming in from the broader Zanzibari diaspora as well as the local community and that of the wider Tanzanian mainland. These range from corporate donations to those of wealthy local families, to beach boys that have had a whip-round and come into the office. 

The funds, clothing etc collected is being directed to charities on the ground that we consider to be providing the most effective relief response, and whilst we support the government efforts, we will not be funding them. The intention is to try to help those families most affected, (inevitably the poorest members of the community were travelling on that boat) on a longer-term basis, and so we are indentifying charities with a strong community outreach programme and inviting applications for funding from them. These applications will require a budgetary breakdown, a clear goal of requirements and ongoing monitoring. If our revenue becomes sufficiently high, we then hope to work with some microfinance organisations to help businessmen who lost their livelihoods on the boat, get back into business. A local accountant/ auditor is joining our committee this evening to ensure probity, transparency and expediency on this and our general financial setup.

It has become clear that the best way to get a real picture of the loss, is to engage with the Shehias (administrative units) in order to understand what is being reported and documented at local level. Some members of the committee are going out to Pemba this weekend to meet with Regional Commissioners and District leaders to start this process. This in turn will allow us to identify those agencies working in the field.

We are also intending to work with the Zanzibar Outreach Programme (www.zopzanzibar.com) with whom we have met to discuss the most effective response. Many on this list know them, and Francesca has been handling their communications work on a voluntary basis for some time, but they have proved themselves again and again to be the organisation capable of dealing with problems effectively, with the most transparent interests of donors and communities in mind. They are also documenting the effects of the tragedy at a local level, through an existing health monitoring scheme that they run through schools, and with them we will be looking to indentify families in need, and define a data co-efficient that will allow us to formulate a donor programme that can make monthly donations for tuition fees, welfare, livelihood, business support etc over a two year cycle, monitored by them. We expect much of the finance that we collect to be ultimately donated to this process.

This takes time to set up, however, and in the meantime, we are collecting medical supplies, clothing and anything else that we can. The first handover will be done this afternoon, and will be updated to the website thereafter. We hope to then start making bi-weekly updates to the website over the coming month, listing progress and the processes we undertake to distribute the donations.

…ends.

If anyone would like to make a donation to SaidiaZanzibar, or Zanzibar Outreach Programme, details are on the respective websites. Or contact us at [email protected] and we will forward your email. 

Written by Jo Jenkins

Jo’s enthusiasm for safari as a child when her parents worked in Zambia, then Kenya. Jo quickly fancied herself as a safari expert and has been a keen game tracker ever since. Although, more recently, she is very keen to trial many of the (more luxurious) beach lodges we now offer.

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