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Datum: 17.09.2018

Joint Field School with Tanzanian students in the Uluguru Mountains, Tanzania

Between the 17th and 29th of August 17 Master students from the Department of Geography of the University Bonn and 12 Master students from several faculties of the Mzumbe University participated in a joint field school on applied field study methods on rural transformation and development in the Uluguru Mountains, a few kilometres from the city of Morogoro in Eastern Tanzania.

The course was organised by Prof. Müller-Mahn and Dr. T. Frank and aimed at giving the participants some first hands-on experience by working in self-organized, mixed German-Tanzanian teams. After discussing the principles and expectations of the joint field school and the guidelines of how to design a research project the students organized themselves in five groups that from then on explored specific topics in a selected number of villages in the nearby mountains.

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The groups first had to come to an agreement upon their research question, methods, and time frame. The actual field work took place in the Uluguru Mountains, which lie only about an hour´s drive from the Mzumbe Campus. The area is characterised by intensive land use and is widely known for its vegetable production, especially tomatoes. In the last decades the region faced massive social-ecological transformations caused by many drivers, such as changing climatic conditions, increasingly water scarcity, competition over the access to water resources between local farmers and the growing demand for water in the cities of Dar es Salaam and Morogoro, and finally the increasing diversification and intensification of agriculture. For this reason, the five student groups focussed on questions about agricultural development, rural-urban migration, rural health, value-chain development and market access of different actors.

After returning from the four days in the field the groups reflected on the challenges they had faced, including the experience of intercultural cooperation, analysed their data, and prepared a final presentation. The findings were presented on the last day of the joint field school in front of all participants, several staff members of Mzumbe University and other guests. The many comments of the audience prooved that the students – despite time-pressure, physical hardships of the “field” and the challenges of interdisciplinary and intercultural cooperation – had developed interesting insights of the present transformations of the Uluguru Mountains.


Text: Michael Witte & Gerda Jeusfeld
Fotos: G. Jeusfeld, M. Witte und Prof. D. Müller-Mahn