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News and Resources

Housing Loans Help Women in Tanzania

News and Resources
By Karla Kloepper, Rooftops Canada Intern
It’s a hot and sunny Wednesday morning, and the streets of Dar es Salaam’s Kinondoni Mkwajuni neighbourhood are bustling. Dalla dalla conductors shout to waiting commuters, their cries soaring over the sounds of children playing in doorways, hawkers flogging bottled water, oranges and chewing gum, and Dar’s upbeat bongo flava music which pulses from stores and eateries.
Zainabu Msunga, age 68, lives in the heart of Kinondoni Mkwajuni. Mama Zainabu was one of the first clients to receive a housing loan through WAT Human Settlement Trust’s housing microfinance program in 2009. Working in partnership with Rooftops Canada, WAT is a non-governmental organization that delivers training and technical support in all aspects of housing development.
Since using the first loan of about CAD $340 to replace her mud house with a two-room cement brick home, Mama Zainabu has taken out two more loans to build additions. She is now the proud owner of a three-room home with two retail kiosks.
Developing her property incrementally has helped Mama Zainabu create stability for her family. A widow, she supports six grandchildren and her elderly mother on a monthly income of CAD $160, most of which is from renting out the retail kiosks.
In addition to contributing to the family’s income, the new living quarters have significantly improved the family’s health. “We’ve been able to fight off mosquitoes more effectively, which has reduced the incidence of malaria in our household. The big windows also allow in much more fresh air – before, we were suffocating,” she says.
Mama Zainabu is chairperson of the neighbourhood’s lending collective, and a respected leader in her community. When asked what advice she gives others interested in improving their living conditions, she says, “Seeing is believing! When others see how our lives have improved, they understand that this system of taking small loans to build homes over time really works.”