In 2008.....

Geoff Mathis, (a Rotarian based in Mount Maunganui, NZ) then Rotary District Governor had an idea, one that required kiwi ingenuity and farming expertise. Geoff developed a simple biogas digester (cow manure in one end – gas out the other end) to help the village of Mwika have access to lighting and cooking gas.

Mwika, on the foothills of Mt Kilimanjaro, is an area of approximately 14sq kilometres. Seven villages reside here, totalling a population of around 7,000 families. Of these, 95% have no electricity or transport. Most families own 1-2 cows.

Greetings to friends, the Rotary family,

The goal: Moving farmers and the community off the poverty line in Mwika, Tanzania.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           In 2008 I started helping (with the support of a lot of people) the village of Mwika on the foothills of Mt Kilimanjaro with sufficient funding for 36 biogas digesters (converting manure to methane gas)🐮. 
It has grown considerably from that point to where we are at - the final stage of that project. The Kondiki Dairy Co-op is in desperate need for a second reliable small truck (ute) to assist in the collection and distribution of the product.  I have undertaken to do our best to fund the NZD$30,000 required. 
On numerous occasions, I am asked: “How are things going in Tanzania, Geoff?”
This project has been in our focus for 10 yrs now and with MFAT (Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade)  approval they have given us an extension for six months (June 2019) to tidy up a few loose ends.
For the benefit of new members in Rotary let me step back to 2008 when I was District Governor in our District (D9930). I developed a simple biogas digester (cow manure in one end – gas out the other end) to be used within the village of Mwika on the foothills of Kilimanjaro – Tanzani
During 2008/09 our district donated $19,000 to install approx. 36 digesters for the use by the 1-2 cow farmers in the village – the farmers paying half the cost of each installation.  To date, 94 digesters have been installed -😉.
Upon my visit to Mwkia in 2010 I saw milk from the farmer co-op being pasteurised in an old copper boiler – coming home I sought funding from NZAid at the time, to install a small automated separator, pasteuriser and support facilities.
Milk was being delivered to the co-op in Dulux paint tins, detergent containers and the like, so through Rotary, we delivered to the co-op 190 stainless steel milk cans of 5 & 10 ltr sizing.
Our District developed and funded the major cost of 1,000 good farming practice booklets - to continue to maintain a cost contribution from farmers they were charged $1.00 for each booklet.
In 2014 we had a call for assistance for good quality Friesian cows and further upgrade and repairs to the small milk factory built by the church and support from a Lutheran Parish in Keil Germany in 2005.
  With further support from MFAT and a substantial Rotary Global Grant, we were successful in putting together sufficient funds to purchase 150 black and white heifers – mainly out of Kenya – again farmers paying half the cost, apart from 5 social contributions, some management costs for 12 mths and other necessary upgrades. Inside and out!
 An agreement has been reached with the Lutheran Church re percentage ownership of land and building and the associated plant inside funded by NZ and others to the farming community.
Milk production in the collection area has increased from 350 litres per day in 2007 to 3400ltrs a day as at 1st December 1018 – getting very close to the target of 5,000 litres a day within 6 mths.
The Bill Gates Foundation and Land’O ‘Lakes in America are supporting farmers (at a reduced price) in genetic improvement of the milking cows. Some of that support is coming from NZ animal genetics.
To date Rotary and partners have funded NZD1.1m into this project to support and improve the well being of this community in Tanzania – Rotary International is using the template developed here for future aid programmes around the world. Rod Finch – a Rotarian and Food Technologist from Christchurch in a recent email after spending a month at Kondiki “fine-tuning the plant” said               
We have almost achieved our goal of moving farmers and the community off the poverty line”
Three weeks ago I was asked for assistance if we (Rotary) are able to fund a second small truck (ute) to assist in the delivery of milk and as a backup if the current one breaks down – and yes they do – our farm tracks would be far superior to most of the side routes – even up to the factory itself.
This is my last call for funds as we wind down and set up the locals to manage it themselves –
Thirty Thousand New Zealand dollars (NZD30,000) is what we need – can we do it? – YES, I believe we can.
I have been offered support by a very new Rotarian (of 3 weeks) to assist in setting up a “Givealittle” page – if we all passed on this story to say 20 persons in your email address book, I am sure there would be enough interest in what has been achieved.

I have set up with Rotary New Zealand a website that tells the story of the project and my hope is that this will be shared with your family, friends and colleagues. If you are willing to forward this email onto 20 persons or share it with your networks, I am sure we will achieve our goal. 

Visit to view the story and donate if you so wish, or contact me.