Winter Trip and Project Updates!

At the beginning of 2018, a few of the CDI Executive Committee headed out to Dar es Salaam for the annual winter trip. The Deputy Director, Billy, the four Project Directors and I travelled out to Tanzania in early January to make a start on the preparations for the annual summer trip. The time was filled with a mix of internal and external meetings along with some down time to relax and socialise with our Tanzanian team.

David and I met with a variety of external stakeholders including government officials, and major partners. A large amount of time was also dedicated to working with David and Glory and the UK and Tanzanian project directors to affirm our overall goals for the year and project strategy for the summer. We were also able to meet the newly recruited Kite Dar es Salaam volunteers and introduce CDI, generating excitement ahead of the summer. The trip has proved invaluable for the Project Directors, Billy and me. It gave those who hadn’t yet been to Tanzania on the ground experience, enabled preparations to begin for the summer and allowed us to work directly with our Tanzanian team, building personal and professional relationships.
Since getting back to Cambridge, it has been straight back to business. CDI had it’s first board meeting of 2018 at the end of January and volunteer interviews have been happening throughout January and into early February.  We have now recruited our full UK team of volunteers and are currently finalising our research team. We have just had our first CDI wide training session which provided an overview of the organisation as well as logistical information and expectations. The evening ended at Pembroke bar with a social to get to know our team. We have 3 more CDI wide training sessions coming up which will focus on working abroad, design thinking, monitoring & evaluation and research. This training series should help to prepare our volunteers effectively for the summer trip to Dar es Salaam.


Lizzy (Director)

Project Updates


Continued collaborations with Bridge For Change and in the process of signing an MOU with Restless Development. Two cycles of the Careers Network Support (CNS) will be held in February and over the summer. These will be run mostly by Bridge For Change and support from Kite and CDI. Continuing to develop Kompyut Her into a full-scale programme and setting up new initiatives; Careers Hub and Reading Spots.


Publicity in January for CDI and Kite at UDSM’s Entrepreneurship Event. DarEnterprisers businesses won the top 3 prizes in the competition. Check in meetings held with DOT partners, AIESEC and UDIEC. New project research and development is underway. Idea is to pilot a speakers series on business and entrepreneurship-related topics.



Health plans to run two project streams in the summer: women’s workshops and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) workshops. The team plans to train nurses to deliver workshops on maternal health and family planning and set up partnerships with local radio for the NCDs workshop. They have obtained permission from the Vingunguti government, reached a partnership agreement with E-fm presenter and carried out community surveys on desired content.



On the January trip CDI and Kite directors held consultations with the Vingunguti community, especially the technicians and SUA chairpersons. They met with partners to discuss expansion and collaboration plans with DAWASA, Bridge For Change and Scan Tanzania Ltd. They plan to install a new biodigestor on the site and expand the sewage network.


2017 CDI Volunteer Becky Donaldson thinks that you should volunteer with CDI this summer

Name: Becky Donaldson
Project: Entrepreneurship
Year of volunteering: 2017

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Why did you apply to be a volunteer?

I applied to be a volunteer as I wanted to travel during my Summer, but not by just doing touristy stuff in various places. CDI was a great opportunity for me to experience living in a different continent, and properly embrace the culture shock that comes with it. Plus I thought it would be really cool to have friends across the globe – this is something that partnering with the Tanzanian university is great for.

What was the highlight of the trip?

The entrepreneurship highlight for me was looking round our business exhibitions before the conference fully started. Seeing our participants with all their branding material, prototypes, business plans and confident pitches made me realise the sheer amount we had accomplished in such a short time. Other highlights included getting drunk on a roof and climbing an active volcano to watch the sunrise from the crater.

Why would you recommend it to someone else/what impact did it have on you?

I would recommend CDI due to the amount of amazing people you meet through doing it. I set off knowing absolutely nobody and left with good friends in both from Tanzania and back in Cambridge. Without CDI I wouldn’t have found out that I could switch course at Cambridge, so my next few years would have been vastly different without CDI!

If you still haven’t applied yet, what are you waiting for? The deadline is coming up incredibly quickly – Thursday 18th January

To apply, click here:

WaSH Project Director Yasmine Shafiq talks about why you should volunteer with CDI!

Name: Yasmine Shafiq

Project: WaSH

Year of volunteering: 2017

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Why did you apply to be a volunteer?

I was looking for an alternative to an office-based internship which would allow me to apply my engineering knowledge in much more creative ways. I was also interested in sustainable development and CDI was the most collaborative model of student volunteering that I had seen.

What was the highlight of the trip?

I loved working with such a brilliant team of Tanzanian engineers, who really took ownership of our sub-project and will be running it independently next year. I formed very close friendships with the volunteers that I was living and working with.

Why would you recommend it to someone else/what impact did it have on you?

I would highly recommend volunteering with CDI. The WaSH project gave me the opportunity to develop creative solutions to complex technical and logistical problems by working collaboratively with other motivated students. My confidence in a team has hugely increased, and I loved being able to see the tangible impact of our work in the community.

Like the sound of this? To get involved with CDI, apply to become a volunteer with us this summer! Apply now at

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Ex-WaSH Volunteer Hannah Bryson-Jones talks about her experiences volunteering with CDI

Name : Hannah Bryson-Jones

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Project: WaSH

Year of volunteering: 2017

Why did you apply to be a volunteer?

I loved the idea of doing a project that would have a positive impact on people who need it the most and doing hands on, practical work rather than being stuck in an office all summer.  Working in Tanzania with local students gives you an appreciation of the culture more than you could ever get as a tourist, and the sense of community on the team is fantastic.

What was the highlight of the trip?

Drinking tea that had been boiled using the biogas we produced – seeing the results of our hard work made everything worth it.

We also made the most of our time off, motorbiking across Zanzibar, hiking around Kilimanjaro and visiting the Dar clock tower to name a few of my favorite moments.

Why would you recommend it to someone else/what impact did it have on you?

If you want to see the theory you get taught work in practise, and learn some new practical skills then CDI is a great chance to lead a project and solve problems independently.  The trip also made me realise how many things I take for granted, such as clean water and electricity, which made being involved in the project even more meaningful.  I made friends from both Tanzania and the UK on the trip and the experience of living and working together on some challenging problems definitely brings you closer together.  Writing this is actually making me sad that I won’t be there next year, if you’re thinking about applying, do it!

Like the sound of this? To get involved with CDI, apply to become a volunteer with us this summer! Apply now at

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CDI Director Lizzy O’Brien talks about her experiences volunteering with CDI

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Name: Lizzy O’Brien

Project: Entrepreneurship

Year of volunteering: 2016/2017

Why did you apply to be a volunteer?

I applied to be a volunteer for CDI because I knew that I wanted to do something impactful with my summer and utilise the opportunities available to me at Cambridge University, When I came across CDI, I found that my own values coincided with the organisation’s. The value that students can bring to the table is something that I fully believe in and the focus on collaboration and sustainability ensures lasting impact of CDI’s projects.

What was the highlight of the trip?

My personal highlight was seeing the cumulation of the hard work and knowledge gained by the participants throughout the DAREntreprisers course. I had the privilege to watch their business ideas take shape and their enthusiasm grow as an abstract idea was developed into a fully branded, investable, business.

Why would you recommend it to someone else/what impact did it have on you?

CDI has had a lasting impact on me. The CDI model is grounded in the belief of collaboration, in practice this meant that I was always working within a mixed Tanzania and UK team. This gave me exposure to people from a variety of backgrounds and a allowed me to gain a greater understanding of Tanzanian culture. The individuals that I worked with and bonded with throughout the trip have left a lasting impression and have given me a new perspective.

Like the sound of this? To get involved with CDI, apply to become a volunteer with us this summer! Apply now at


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Volunteer with CDI this Summer

Applications for the 2018 Summer trip are now open!

If you’re looking to do meaningful work this summer, as part of the most impactful student-led international development organisation out there; if you’re looking to gain skills above and beyond a regular internship, and make memories that you’ll take for life; if you’re looking to take ownership of something worthwhile and help drive pioneering development projects…

Join us at the Cambridge Development Initiative!

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We are looking for volunteers for each of our four projects:
1. Education
2. Heath
3. Entrepreneurship
4. WaSH
And the new position of a Research Volunteer!

To find out more about all that this would involve, please visit this link:

Volunteer applications close on Thursday 18th January, and we are looking to recruit for the committee positions as soon as possible!

To apply, please follow the following link:

If you have any questions, please contact us at!

Connect with other potential volunteers here:

Women in Business: Tackling the Statistics

The Women’s Empowerment Workshop was run by CDI’s Entrepreneurship Project as a part of the DAREnterprisers Course. Lizzy O’Brien (centre) was one of the Workshop organisers, and here she explains the importance of promoting gender equality among the next generation of entrepreneurs in Tanzania.

The OECD Development Centre’s Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) is a cross-country measure of discrimination against women in social institutions across 160 countries. In their profile of Tanzania, they categorise the country under the SIGI category of ‘High’, stating that ‘the 1977 Constitution of Tanzania prohibits gender-based discrimination but the country’s legislation has yet to be adjusted to support this principle’.[1] This assessment is backed-up by the data collected by several other international organisations, which has found that:

  • Women in Tanzania earn only 68% of what men earn whilst performing similar work.[2]
  • Approximately a quarter of Tanzanians believe that boys’ education is more important than girls’.[3]
  • Only 22% of graduates are female.[4]

With statistics such as these standing before young women, CDI’s Entrepreneurship Project has been focusing upon how we can encourage the empowerment of female entrepreneurs who are striving for social change.

The Women’s Empowerment Workshop was a CDI wide event, run by DAREnterprisers, to which all UK and Tanzanian CDI volunteers were invited. We invited three female guest speakers: Blandini Semu, an ITV presenter and an advocate for women’s and disabled rights; Amina Sanga, a successful young entrepreneur; and Tatu Said, a motivational speaker. After each of these women had spoken about their experiences as a woman in the workplace, the audience engaged the panel in a question and answer session, before continuing the afternoon in structured group discussions.

One of the areas we particularly addressed was the fact that the female demographic within the DAREntreprisers course is so low: only 24%. This is a topic our Project team has frequently discussed, but it was especially constructive to hear the thoughts of the participants themselves. One specific reason they articulated was that, in Tanzania, there is still the prevailing expectation that a woman’s role is primarily within her household. When a student’s university term ends, it is expected that she will return home and assist with the day to day upkeep of her family household. Consequently, girls are not often supported by their families to apply for opportunities such as the DAREnterprisers course, and so either reject the place or drop out.

Another reason for the low rate of female applications which we considered was that the three tracks of the course (Manufacturing & Urban Living, WaSH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene) and Off-Grid Energy) may be perceived as ‘masculine’. All of these tracks imply an engineering, STEM focus which, traditionally, has been dominated by men.

To further this idea, I asked Regina Kwisakwani Mwakibinga about her experience. Regina is an engineering student at UDSM, and she said that, although she is thoroughly used to a classroom dominated by boys, she feels that this isn’t the way it should be and that an active effort should be made to encourage an equal gender balance. She appreciates the support that CDI has given in the classroom and is inspired by the gender balance of the volunteers on the Entrepreneurship Project. She suggested that the recruitment process could be improved by clearly communicating that female involvement is encouraged and advertising the opportunity on women dominated platforms such as forums.

An active and effective effort has been made this year on the DAREnterprisers course to retain and develop the skill of all our female participants. An all-women’s Whatsapp group has been set up as a forum in which to discuss thought-provoking articles or ideas. The addition of a women’s welfare officer on the Tanzanian and UK team of volunteers has also been invaluable in sorting out any conflicts and providing support, and we have ensured that feedback sessions have been run specifically for the female participants.

There is always more that organisations can do to encourage female empowerment in the workplace, but the ideas generated through our discussion during and after the Workshop are steps which CDI will continue to explore and implement. The SIGI quite rightly points out that ‘as underlying drivers of gender inequalities, discriminatory social institutions perpetuate gender gaps in development areas, such as education, employment and health, and hinder progress towards rights-based social transformation that benefits both women and men.’[5] It is CDI’s vision to ensure that both our projects and our organisation as a whole are spaces in which such transformation and positive development can occur.


[2] World Economic Forum, 2013, p. 354
[3] UNICEF, 2010, p. 28
[4] UNESCO Institute of Statistics, 2015