Rwang’enyi Dispensary Tanzania

AGL Marketing Limited and Kirobe Investments are working toward developing sustainable enterprises so that villagers earn income and generate cash for developing and maintaining the dispensary.

Rwang’enyi Trail: Our path to health

The beginning of a story about a poor village with a dispensary serving thousands

An AGL Marketing Limited | Kirobe Investments project

After two hours shuffling along this red dusty trail, steadily climbing, the Rwang’enyi dispensary is barely visible on the sparsely shaded mount. The silent weight in her sling, adds to her burden. She worries as she trudges onward under the hot Tanzanian sun. The child is ill and needs help that she cannot give. She shuffles along. Help is near.

For thousands of people living in remote villages a few kilometers from Lake Victoria in Tanzania, the Rwand’enyi dispensary is all that there is to ease the pain, combat infections, prevent disease, and help with birthing. The dispensary was built with money from The Health Basket Fund, a sector wide approach to health care.

Rwang’enyi is in Nyamtinga Ward, Rorya District in Mara Region, south of the Town of Shirati. The ward has a population of just over 11,000 and Rorya has over a quarter million. In a rural area, serving people engaged in small scale fishing, livestock husbandry, and small businesses, alongside peasants growing cassava, sorghum, maize, and beans, the dispensary is a critical community resource. If you consider that children are treated more than others for malaria, diarrhea, upper airway diseases, worms, and skin fungal infestations, you may be inclined to declare the dispensary a vital community resource.

Rwang’enyi cannot sustain the dispensary building in peak working order. The dispensary has insufficient resources to grow its business with many hundreds annually walking great distances, some up to 18km, to get medical help. Roads are untreated trails. There is no electrical grid serving the dispensary, the water supply is captured rainwater, and there is no full-time doctor. Three full-time nurses paid by the national government staff the dispensary. There is no refrigeration, but a solar panel cools a vault for storing vaccines.

The people of Rwang’enyi know that the path to better health is the creation of sustainable businesses and enough personal income to contribute to the maintenance and staffing of the dispensary. A full-time doctor is a dream. Nurses provide most of the medical services.

There is a way to sustainable health care for many low-income families who pay what they can to use the services of the dispensary. There is a way with a little help from friends.

Small-scale cattle farmers work with Kirobe Investments to prepare hides for export. The same product is used in the village to manufacture women’s sandals and men’s shoes for local retailers in nearby towns and cities. Some make it to markets as far away as the port city of Dar es Salaam. All are hand crafted using 19th and 20th century skills and technology. The revenue feeds families, provides shelter, and sends children to school. The product to make the footwear comes from the land. A few people engaged in shoe making were asked if they would share a little of their income to maintain and grow the dispensary. Without hesitation, they said yes, but without sales of their products, there is nothing to share.

Handmade sandals and shoes can be shipped through Kirobe Investments to many countries. Revenue generated by sales would go back to the shoemakers with a portion of every sale directed toward the maintenance of the dispensary and its development.

Most of the shoemakers are middle-aged men and women. Those who don’t use the dispensary are discouraged by the dusty trail. This is the common story of Okelo Kimoko, Okelo Kitende, Wilikista Opiyo, Richard Muhinda, and Machage Ogaga.

The villagers have benefited from government assistance and they know that aid can help a little, only. For sustainable development to occur, they need to sell products that are needed and can be used now. Kirobe and the village is reaching out to people on social networks who may have experienced success with similar enterprises. They want to hear your story so the people of Rwang’enyi can learn from you and sell a lady’s sandal or man’s shoe to help build their path to health.

Email Grant Lee at