Where is Buturi?
Buturi area is situated in Rorya District, in Mara region, off the shore of Lake Victoria, in the North-West of Tanzania. The population is 52,000+. Buturi community comprises 6 villages with a population of up to 9,000 in each. We are based in one of these – Makongoro. Makongoro is the ‘exemplar’ village The Buturi Project is focused upon, in partnership with Buturi School Academy. In time, we hope to reach out to the other 5 villages in the area.
The villagers are mainly Nilotic people (from the Nile region), who migrated from Egypt and Sudan some five hundred years ago. They have their own language; Luo, (also known as Luo-imbo) and also speak Swahili (Kiswahili), the only generic African language. English and Kiswahili are the national languages of Tanzania, but few speak English in the villages.
The Buturi community predominantly consists of fishermen and subsistence farmers, typically living in thatched mud huts, without electricity or water. The state does not provide any form of support. All support is provided by extended family members, who are experiencing increasing pressure from poverty, drought and climate change. Additionally, there has also been a significant loss of manpower as a result of lack of employment, lack of infrastructure, and lack of youth support. As a result, there is a steady migration from the village to the towns.
The overriding impression of Buturi is one of startling contrasts – an ethos of incredible hard work, mutual support, and community strength and resilience in the face of struggle, sacrifice and desperation. Like many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, Buturi has suffered from the twin disasters of HIV and drought. Over thirty years of HIV has decimated the local community, typically leaving the very young and very old to fend for themselves with the stronger, more capable generation missing. The older generation struggle to bring up their orphaned grandchildren.
A significant proportion of the population of Buturi is aged under 15, which places an enormous burden on the productive population of the district to provide the basic necessities of life. In addition, a high rate of polygamy (legal under Customary Law) adds to the burden of care on already fragile survival means. 82.6% of households in Mara Region are dependent on agriculture for survival and many households are “food insecure”. The literacy rate for females is very low, and unemployment is rife. The entire economy is constrained by several other factors: landlessness, limited entrepreneurial skills, poor access to markets and market information and weak or inadequate linkages with business support services.