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A mobile solution for mobile pastoralists – spreading FMNR through text messages

June 29, 2016

by Tony Rinaudo & Andrew Mwakisu – World Vision 

World Vision Tanzania through USAID funding, is trying innovative ways of working with pastoralists to help them restore their degraded rangelands through FMNR. Pastoralists often travel long distances with their livestock in order to find fodder. These people are therefore missed in most community meetings and can remain marginalised.

In order to address this issue, the project uses text messages to reach these pastoralists. The project sends out text messages such as:
Restore vegetation using live stumps. Live stumps can sprout again after cutting down a tree.  Management of live stumps is cheap and simple and they are drought resistant. There’s a lot of benefits in FMNR/ restoring stumps, such benefits include soil erosion control. FMNR builds resilience to climate change, conserves catchments, creates fodder reserves, and restores lost fruits and medicines.   “KEEP STUMPS FOR THE CURRENT AND FUTURE BENEFITS”

Project staff have reached over 600 pastoralists with key messages and to remind those who have already been contacted through meetings and training programs of the importance of regenerating trees.  Most of those received the SMS texts acknowledged receiving the messages and stated that they felt valued and recognised.   One of the key benefits of this program is that it is a cheap and effective means of reaching many people in a short period of time. For example USD $50 can purchase about 3700 SMS texts that can reach 600 farmers and pastoralists six times in a month or more depending on the frequency of messaging.
We want to make this program better by creating an SMS Text Platform where farmers and pastoralist can have time to share experiences, ask questions and reply back upon receiving a text message. A focal person has already been assigned to this task and the team are excited about the benefits this will have. A Mobile Company has been engaged to see if they can make a single SIM card that will be used for replying back at the expense of the project/ not farmers and pastoralists which also can be used as call centre for assisting communities.