In March I went to the rock city, Mwanza, on the shores of Lake Victoria in Tanzania. The purpose of the trip was to gain an impression of two research projects: investigating HIV and associated illnesses such as diabetes; and the economics and ecology of fisheries on the lake. I travelled with members of a consultative committee for development research and spent two days engrossed in discussions with two enthusiastic research teams.
En route to the lake we spent a night at a hotel near Kilimanjaro and ate breakfast on a terrace with fantastic views towards the mountain. It is strange to be at the equator and gaze at a snowy scene!
In Mwanza we visited laboratories and clinics where the team from the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) are working. Around 5-7 per cent of the population are HIV positive and the research project is designed to determine their susceptibility to other diseases, as well as treatment. It was interesting to get some insights into a subject that I know very little about.
We stayed at a giant monstrosity beach resort hotel, with water lilies and frogs in ponds.
On the second day in Mwanza we met the fisheries research team, initially at the fish control lab on the outskirts of the city. Samples of fish are inspected and tested in order to ensure that they are free of diseases and that pollution levels are within limits. The lab was funded by the EU as a trade promotion initiative.
Then we went to a beach landing site where we learnt about the fishing and processing techniques. Drying small sardines on beaches is common, but very primitive. The researchers are helping to introduce more efficient technologies that will increase the value of the catch.
Our discussions concluded at the fish market in Mwanza where buyers gather from all over the region, coming from as far away as the DRC and South Sudan.
Early in the morning of the third day we were booked on a flight to Dar es Salaam. But there were some delays caused by a spectacular tropical downpour with impressive thunder and lightning. Later as the “Fastjet” plane descended to land there were fine views of the Indian Ocean and the ”haven of peace.”
Driving around the city I noticed that Tanzanian artists amuse themselves by painting mobile murals, such as this “photo shop style” image on the back of a bus, depicting Gaddafi and Saddam with a female gun-waving figure in between. The bus was in a traffic jam outside one of the largest shopping malls in Dar.
It’s not easy to determine what the message is!