Bamboo a potential saviour of poor kids

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The Darr es Salaam-based Bamboo Training School has embarked on an operation to train street kids and disadvantaged children from the city and upcountry.

The kids are being trained on how to knit bamboo and manufacture various products for sale so as to support themselves financially.

Speaking to the Sunday Observer in Dar es Salaam this week, Mkumba George, a teacher at the school, said that currently more than 60 youth have been trained , 40 of whom are women.

Ten of those have formed a working group which operates in locations at Kimara, Mwenge and Ubungo, on the outskirts of the city.

George explained that they are promoting the theme that bamboos constitute money that grows, which they are using to co-opt youth into the project.

He said that they get raw materials mainly from Kigoma and Mbeya.

`Although we are training youths, we still need to empower them financially so that they may be able to buy materials and start their own businesses,` he said.

He pointed out that given the stiff competition in the current business environment, the youths can cope successfully only if they are well organised economically, and make high-quality, appealing products.

George said the project is also intended to steer youth away from anti-social tendencies like drug taking, since they would be gainfully engaged.

According to him, if bamboo cultivation will be promoted as a commercial product, it will help children living in disadvantaged areas and other youth.

He explained that bamboo can be used to produce a wide range of products that include beds and chairs, for sale on the domestic and overseas markets.

He furthermore noted that the project would reduce deforestation in the country, since people would use bamboos instead of cutting down trees wantonly for making furniture, and other activities.

George said appreciable success had been recorded in marketing their products locally, but were unable to meet external demand due to lack of sufficient capital.

He said one of the surest ways out of the problem was securing loans, to place them on a sound financial footing.

The school is located at SIDO industrial estate in Dar es Salaam of Africans and their strong desire to transform the subcontinent.`

Wolfowitz began another tour of Africa on Friday, starting with Ghana where he participated in Ghana�s 50th anniversary independence celebrations.

He will also visit Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and later, South Africa.

His visit is scheduled to highlight the progress being made in Africa and the achievements of high performing countries like Ghana, which has been growing at rates in excess of 4 per cent for the last decade.

A key focus will also be the challenges still facing the countries and how best the Bank, and the international community, can support the region�s ongoing efforts to increase growth and reduce poverty.

In Ghana, in addition to taking part in the country�s 50th anniversary celebrations, Wolfowitz was scheduled to travel to the city of Kumasi - which recently launched a partnership with the U.S. city of Atlanta with support from the World Bank.

In Kumasi, he was scheduled to speak at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

Wolfowitz�s visit to Burundi will be the first by a World Bank President and will provide an opportunity to learn more about the challenges of this post-conflict country, including its efforts to reintegrate former combatants.

In DRC, a country that recently held its first fully democratic elections in 40 years, Wolfowitz will be joined in Kinshasa by Louis Michel, European Union Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid.

He will also travel to Kisangani, in the east of the country, to hear first hand about ongoing support for the demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants.

Later in the month, Mr. Wolfowitz will travel to South Africa, where he will attend the Annual Meeting of the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank (PNoWB) which is being held in Africa for the first time.

The PNoWB is an independent organization of over 800 parliamentarians from 110 countries which mobilizes its members to address global governance and poverty challenges, and promote transparency and accountability in international development.

In July, 2006, President Wolfowitz visited Tanzania, a tour that took him Arusha, Dodoma, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.