The Mbola cluster is located in the Uyui district in mid-western Tanzania. Situated on low, hilly terrain, the six villages are spread out over an expansive area, making travel between them difficult while also suppressing the development of local markets. The nearest city center, Tabora, is 36km away.
Subsistence farming is the main economic activity. The cluster is part of Miombo woodland savanna climate zone of the Southern Africa plateau. Mbola has one rainy season but in recent years, the rain has become increasingly erratic.
Mbola faces a high rate of environmental degradation resulting from poor crop management practices, declining agricultural production and destruction of the Miombo woodlands for fuel wood used in the tobacco industry. Overgrazing and expansion of agricultural land have also contributed to the decline of land productivity. There is a general lack of basic infrastructure for health and education.
- With nearly 400 members, the newly established savings and credit co-operative is providing loans to farmers to set up businesses.
- The refurbished health centre has a new operating theatre and laboratory, and was connected to the national grid, as well as two schools.
- Access to anti-retrovirals increased to 85% in 2011 from 67% in 2010.
- Mbola was one of the first villages to benefit from the SharedSolar project, a system for delivering solar electricity to remote areas where grid extension is difficult.
- Access to improved water supply has increased six fold.
- Thanks to the school meals program, school attendance rose from 60% in 2006 to 96% in 2009. Retention of pupils in school improved by 40%, while academic performance increased by 25%.
- To teach the dangers of deforestation, tree nurseries were planted in nine primary schools.