Why do we need a Fence

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Background - the Mazengo Campus of St John’s University of Tanzania
The main University campus is on the outskirts of Dodoma, the capital city of Tanzania. Its educational history dates back to 1929, when Christian missionaries moved their first school in the area (set up in 1926) from Handali to Dodoma. It was known as the Alliance Secondary school until 1969 when the Tanzanian government nationalised all schools under Nyerere’s Arusha Declaration of Education for Self-Reliance. The school was renamed the Mazengo Technical and Secondary School.

The 54 hectare (133 acre) site was given back to the Anglican Province around 2005, and St John’s University of Tanzania (SJUT) was established in 2007. By this time the site had deteriorated dramatically. The buildings were in a poor state, and had been stripped of all furniture and fittings, the boundary fence wire had been removed, some areas had reverted to scrubland, and the sealed access roads had vanished. Unfortunately due to donor difficulties, not all the promised establishment funds arrived.

Aerial view of campus – View From North-East.

The academic area is to the right (West) of the picture, and the undeveloped area is at the top and left hand side (East). Student and staff housing is in the centre, and there is a sports field and running track at the bottom. A stream runs through the centre from South to North dividing academic and residential areas. This is dry most of the year. The main road outside around the campus has recently been rebuilt and tar-sealed by the government.

Despite all these problems, the University opened its doors in 2007, thanks to donations from within Tanzania and beyond, together with loans from local banks at high interest rates. It graduated its first students in 2010. By 2013 the University had enrolled 4000 students. It has managed to restore the current teaching facilities: these operate at full capacity all week, and there are also evening and weekend classes for post-graduates. It also has internet, a fully operational library, and its own bore water supply.

It remains desperately short of accommodation for students, and continues to struggle financially due to loan repayments and interest, so it has been unable to restore all of the damage done before it took over the site. Consequently the necessary security systems are not in place, and this has put students at risk. There have been several attacks on students at night as they walk to their accommodation.

Students walking past guard post to University

View from new ringroad to Female hostels

Some efforts have been made to improve the situation following a particularly serious assault on a third year nursing student in 2014. There is now additional lighting and some guard posts have been built. However there is still no fence, so anyone can access the grounds.

In addition, equipment has been stolen from research plots, and farm animals are able to roam freely, destroying vegetation and further degrading the site. Demonstration plots are needed for our Certificate in Agriculture course, but without security this is a challenge.

Remains of old campus fence

A cow grazing on campus near to the hostels

One of the new security posts.

The new security lighting is also shown. Although a few posts remain there is no wire netting between them!

• Provision of a Boundary Fence
The campus is a large area of approximately 54 ha. Apart from 400m in the North-West corner the campus is now unfenced. Currently about 6 ha are used as an academic zone, while almost half in the South-East is undeveloped scrub or grassland. Many students who live off-campus have to walk across it, and while more security systems have been installed, there are still large areas that could be unsafe at night. Repairing the 2.6 km boundary fence would do much to improve security, and would also change the overall appearance of the campus.

A new fence would also allow for the development of demonstration plots for agricultural best practice in the dry conditions of the Dodoma region (although dry most of the year, Dodoma has good sources of underground water, so the potential for irrigation is great, providing good water conservation systems are used). This could include re-vegetation and re-forestation demonstration plots.

A Trial Plot of Tomatoes on campus. Some of the crop disappeared from this experiment, and equipment was damaged.

• Proposed Fence and Costs
After careful examination of various options the university has decided that the only viable alternative which will provide security and which will be unlikely to be damaged easily was a low level concrete block wall with upright steel bars mounted above the blocks. The estimated cost of this design is approximately TZS 150000 (US$75) per metre. Allowing for gates, and special design for culverts and the two bridges, the final cost is estimated to be TZS 400 million (US$200,000).