Meet the Fundraising Officer 2018/19

I’m Joao, a 2nd year Biological Natural Scientist and the Fundraising Officer for CDI this year. I got stuck in with the development work at CDI after doing access work for my college where I learnt to question the different opportunities offered to students of various backgrounds. CDI allows you to explore this on a wider spectrum by engaging the Dar es Salaam community in a collaborative way, assisting them in creating their own opportunities from day-to-day hygiene improvements to entrepreneurship lessons.

Being Fundraising Officer allows a better understanding of the financial side of an NGO and how funds are raised to support the summer projects. Writing and checking grants, approaching colleges and other entities to solicit funding and coordinating informal fundraising events are all part of the role and provide experience in various fields including event management and organisation. Being part of the CDI Executive Committee is a fantastic way to develop all these skills for anyone interested in the development area all whilst helping to mould life changing projects.

As well as the aforementioned forms of fundraising, we rely on donations from our fellow students and other supporters to help keep our projects going! All donations go a long way to ensuring that we can continue our ongoing work! To get involved with our fundraising, visit our JustGiving page!

By Joao Lanca Coelho, Fundraising Officer 2018/19
Joao is a second-year student studying Biological Natural Sciences at Jesus College.


Alumni Relations: Continuing the CDI Journey after Your Time Volunteering Is Over

After the summer I spent volunteering with CDI, I was sad to leave Tanzania and return to the UK knowing that I would be leaving behind many of the new friends I had made, along with the beautiful country of Tanzania itself and the innovative and impactful project work I had enjoyed so much. I had questions in my mind such as wondering what the next Project Directors would decide to do, how they would build on the work to which my teammates and I had contributed, and how they would ensure CDI’s work increasingly achieved a sustainable and tangible impact through innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit, as well as local ownership and scalability.

As I have just alluded to, one of the main reasons I was drawn to volunteer for CDI was their strong core values, and during my summer in Tanzania I really felt that I got to see those in action, as I’m sure many readers will be able to second.  Furthermore, just as reading about CDI’s core values drew me to want to see how they could be implemented, which led to my summer of volunteering, in the same way, what felt like only a brief summer of volunteering left me wanting to know how those same core values would allow CDI to bring change to the communities of Dar es Salaam after my volunteering contribution was over.

Hard at work on project work at Ardhi University

Two years ago, CDI took up the opportunity to keep CDI alumni continuously updated with the current work of CDI by setting up the Alumni Officer role. Since then, alumni have been able to subscribe to a mailing list in order to receive periodic newsletter updates from the Alumni Officer, as well as to be informed of upcoming alumni socials and to be invited to join CDI alumni groups on social media, through which alumni can keep in touch and share relevant articles and job adverts.

With this year marking five years since CDI was founded, myself as the Alumni Officer, alongside the Junior Board, are looking for ways to enhance and develop the important relationship CDI has with its alumni. As a result of these five years of CDI, we now have an extensive alumni community whose reflection on their time with CDI and subsequent experiences in careers and paths of all kinds gives them much to offer the current CDI committee and volunteers.  In a recent survey, the majority of CDI alumni indicated both a desire to hear more from CDI in addition to wanting more opportunities to contribute to the life of CDI themselves, in various ways. For example, alumni expressed a desire to contribute more to volunteer training and project strategy, as well as an interest in blog writing and providing career advice to current volunteers.

The CDI alumni are an extensive, diverse and invaluable community and hence it is important that CDI continues to value and develop this relationship in order to realise its full potential.

By Samuel Watson, Alumni Officer 2018/19
Sam is a fourth-year student studying Chemical Engineering at Jesus College.

The Importance of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL)

Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) might not sound familiar to some of you. Yet, these three words lie at the heart of CDI, and even, of all international development projects. In a nutshell, a project’s MEL Officer conducts extensive analysis to empirically evaluate a project’s effectiveness, by working closely with the CDI MEL Officer as well as the KITE Dar es Salaam MEL Officer. By the end of the project, the Officer will produce an overall project report regarding the success and the impact of the project. Evaluations are based on previous case studies and analysis of the feedback collected from the local community.

MEL is crucial to CDI’s vision to empower local communities and organisations to drive their own development. We use a technique known as Outcome Mapping, in which we rigorously define what community ownership of projects would look like. Through doing so, we provide a more concrete vision of what handover looks like, be it to community actors such as the Sanitation Users Associations of the WaSH project or to organisations like Bridge For Change for the Education Project.

Furthermore, MEL Officers utilise qualitative data gathering techniques, such as focus groups, to gauge the extent to which CDI’s projects are providing relevant positive change to the lives of beneficiaries. In this way, CDI can further refine our projects to fit the real needs of people and their communities, either by iterating successful project streams with improvements or decommissioning project streams which do not provide tangible benefits at a reasonable cost.

Finally, MEL plays an important role in fundraising – many large charitable granting bodies want to see exactly how a project will go about achieving impact. All MEL Officers define this for their project when they create a Theory of Change, which explains in detail how their project’s activities will lead to various short-, intermediate- and long-term outcomes and, in turn, the ultimate goals of the project.

For these reasons, we strongly believe in the need to equip all incoming MEL Officers with the skills needed to ensure that the projects are evaluated successfully.

There were two MEL training sessions for the volunteers this year. The first one introduced MEL, and went through key points of study designs and other preparation works. The second session introduced basic concepts of statistical analysis and interpretation, and drew attention to ethical concerns.

MEL is an intricate process and involves skills such as the ability to conduct qualitative and qualitative research, statistical interpretation, cultural sensitivity and many more. These skills usually require years of training and cannot necessarily be developed within the span of two months. Our projects often involve large sums of investments from external organisation and require a lot of hard work from all parties. Especially when we are only working onsite for two months, MEL is even more essential for the success of CDI and its individual projects. Therefore, MEL Officers must be equipped with the necessary skills to systematically and objectively examine the effectiveness, relevance and the impact of activities in light of our objectives.

We will continue to improve the MEL training sessions, to better prepare the CDI MEL Officers for the requirements of their work and the challenges they may face during their time in Tanzania.

By Katherine Wong, Volunteer Training Officer 2018/19
Kat is a second-year student studying Psychological and Behavioural Sciences (PBS) at Christ’s College.

By Anand Talwar, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) Officer 2018/19
Anand is a second-year student studying Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS) at St. Catherine’s College.

Meet the Treasurer 2018/19

My name is Dilan and I’m going into my second year studying Economics at Homerton College. As Treasurer of CDI, I have had the opportunity to develop new skills including managing a budget and producing monthly financial reports using accounting software and Excel. The role has also taught me how to work more effectively as part of a team by participating in Executive Committee meetings and responding to the queries of Executive Committee members and volunteers throughout the course of the year. A lot of the tasks that I have completed as Treasurer, such as processing reimbursements, have often required a swift response on my behalf. At times this has been challenging, but it has definitely been a rewarding experience.

CDI has offered me the unique opportunity to develop these skills whilst supporting an organisation that is implementing community-driven projects in Tanzania with the goal of creating sustainable change. Being able to develop new skills alongside supporting an organisation with such goals was one of my main motivations for joining CDI. Working with a group of like-minded students who have a passion for creating positive change has been a fulfilling experience. CDI has allowed me to explore my interest and gain a greater understanding of the development sector. As part of the Committee, I have felt a valued team member and have been given a large level of responsibility. This is a unique opportunity to get involved with an organisation that is creating meaningful change to tackle key development issues.

dilan circle

By Dilan Thiara, Treasurer 2018/19
Dilan is a second-year student studying Economics at Homerton College.

Volunteer Training: How the CDI Volunteer Journey Begins

So you’ve decided to join an international development charity working in Tanzania. First of all, congratulations! You’re going to do wonderful work collaborating with partners in Dar es Salaam to improve the lives of those in local communities through one of the Education, Health, Entrepreneurship and WaSH projects. However the next thoughts that enter your mind, despite your skills and knowledge that will contribute to a successful summer of work, may be ‘I’ve never worked in Tanzania before’, ‘I’ve never worked on a Development project before’ or more generally… ‘What have I really just signed myself up to?’

This is why our volunteer training program is important. Before project work begins, our training program aims to provide volunteers with knowledge and skills that will prepare them for the summer ahead. This year’s training consisted of 5 x 2 hour sessions during Lent Term, including additional sessions for MLE (Monitoring, Learning and Evaluation) officers.

Our first session introduced volunteers to the CDI committee, the different projects (their goals and current work), the day-to-day life of a volunteer, the advantages and disadvantages of being a student led organisation, and also some Swahili! This is an important first step to managing expectations of the 2 months of work, providing volunteers with a clearer image of what to expect.

Our second session, presented by two past volunteers, provided insights into Tanzanian ‘culture’ and some key differences that are important for working with Tanzanian student counterparts from our sister organisation KITE Dar es Salaam and our development partners.

Being cognisant and sensitive towards local ‘culture’ is something that is not only important for providing clearer expectations of what volunteers will experience daily, but also fundamental for good working relationships with our Tanzanian counterparts. Instead of building ‘cultural competence’, we hope to instill a sense of cultural humility. Our volunteers must be open to learning from our Tanzanian counterparts, and we must be aware of potential unwanted power dynamics. This could be between CDI and KITE volunteers, or between our volunteers and those we are trying to help.

Our third session, presented by Ian Ellison from the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, provided insights into what sustainable development is, how we achieve this, and how we can best leverage our efforts to provide scalable, sustainable impact. Whether you had previous development project experience or not, everyone had something to gain from this session. Ian’s knowledge of the area and clear communication of the issues facing any development organisation, as well as the ways a student organisation can best leverage their efforts to achieve positive impact, provided a grounding of ideas that should be in the back of every volunteer’s mind when working on their project.

Our fourth and fifth sessions, presented by our Volunteer Training Officers, focused on skills that facilitate problem solving and teamwork skills. These skills are important for promoting creativity and efficient practices within project teams, for example providing tools for analysing and disaggregating issues for better targeting where projects operate.

Every year the training program adapts, in line with volunteer feedback, to address new areas that allow CDI volunteers to work even more effectively. Next year, we will keep working to prepare volunteers for the eventful summers they face and allow them to do their best work.


By Tadeusz Ciecierski-Holmes, Volunteer Training Officer 2018/19
Tads is a second-year student studying Economics at St. John’s College.

World Toilet Day, 2018

By Micheala Chan


Today (Monday 19 November) is World Toilet Day!


World Toilet Day was established by the World Toilet Organization in 2001 and declared an official UN day in 2013 by the UN General Assembly.


This day aims to address Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030. At the rate we are working, we are far behind where we need to be to ensure this achievement. Currently, around the world, 4.5 billion people are still without safely managed sanitation and 892 million people still practise open defecation [1].


Exposure to human faeces and the lack of toilets means that problems in public health, living conditions, education and economic productivity still persist. Waterborne diarrhoeal diseases are still responsible for 2 million deaths annually [2] and cholera is still a major problem in many developing countries. A lack of toilets and handwashing facilities also has a large impact on girls’ access to education, with many dropping out of school when they start menstruating.


Working in Vingunguti, an informal settlement in the Mjimpya ward of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, this is a mission CDI’s WaSH Project has become highly aware of and also wholly dedicated to. 70% of the city’s residents live in informal settlements like Vingunguti [3] and 97% of them are users of pit latrines, with only 6% connected to the modern sewerage system [4].


To date, CDI has constructed 54 accessible toilets connected to the sewerage network, serving an estimated 375 people, since 2014. The latrines have been funded either by the community themselves or by DAWASA (Dar es Salaam Water and Sanitation Authority). The construction has been facilitated by local technicians and workers, and designed mainly by the KITE Dar es Salaam team, giving Tanzanian students the opportunity to apply practically the knowledge learned in university. Further, these toilets have enabled women in the community to take on a leading role, for example, as household representatives and Chairpeople of the Sanitation Users Authorities (see for more information).

Toilet 1

To date, CDI has constructed 54 accessible toilets connected to the sewerage network, serving an estimated 375 people, since 2014.

When Nature calls, CDI answers.


[1] WHO/UNICEF (2017):

[2] WHO.

[3] Jenkins, M. W. (2015). Pit Latrine Emptying Behaviour and Demand for Sanitation Services in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 12(3), pp. 2588-2611

[4] Chaggu, E. et al (2002) . Excreta Disposal in Dar es Salaam. Environmental Management. Nov 30 (5), pp. 609-620

Meet the Research Director 2018/19!

My name is Luca and I am super excited to be directing the Research Team this year. I have long been fascinated by the question of why some are countries are rich whilst others remain poor and, by extension, what we can do about it. It is why I chose to study Economics. Whilst you can learn a lot in the classroom, CDI allows you to tackle this question head-on and use your insights to help inform real-world projects. How do we best fight gender inequality? How do we assist communities without infringing their autonomy? What new technologies should we help implement in what local areas? These questions need answers!

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This past summer I worked on the Monitoring and Evaluation of the Entrepreneurship Project. Although often at times difficult, it was without a doubt one of the rarest and rewarding experiences I have ever had. I was given an astounding amount of responsibility shaping the project and talking to stakeholders. I had to rise to the many challenges NGOs face and was made to recognize and tackle many of my own preconceptions. With the help of my UK and Tanzanian colleagues, I grew tremendously because of it.

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One key thing I learned was that research is absolutely vital for development, especially the ideation stage. As Research Director I want to ensure that our projects are targeting the most pertinent problems, that our efforts are informed, and that our solutions are sustainable. That means thinking critically and creatively.

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To this end, research volunteers will be able to pursue their own areas of interest with great flexibility, looking to identify new project opportunities and publishing a peer-reviewed working paper by the end of their assignment. Although most research is done in Cambridge, volunteers can expect to collaborate with international organizations, leading development scholars, and our Tanzanian partners. This is a truly unique opportunity to get involved in and see your work directly feed back into real projects.

If you are interested in joining the Research Team, applications are open now!