Mtitu village is located to the south-east of Iringa town, about 45km from the town centre. The road from Iringa is a rough track that even in the dry season takes 3 hours by bus to reach the village. In the rainy season the road is almost impassable. The village lies approximately 6,000 feet above sea level. At this altitude the village is relatively cool throughout the year.
The village population is around 3,640 inhabitants in 380 households. 59% are female and 41% male. The average workforce is 21% of the total population. The remaining 79% of the populace have various physical impairments due to chronic health complications, old age and natural disabilities, keeping them from participating in the workforce.
Culturally, the population consists of almost all the same tribe (the Hehe), speaking the same language (Kihehe). There are other minor groups mostly hailing from the southern part of Tanzania. They include the Wanji (Makete), Kinga (Iringa), Bena (Iringa) and Ngoni (Ruvuma). From this cultural constitution, the population shares the same political and social system framework at community level.
The village community’s economy depends highly on peasant agriculture, characterized by the use of hand hoe for cultivation of a small piece of land (usually 3-4 acres). The major agricultural crops are cereals (maize and millets), pulses (green grams, beans and green peas), root crops (sweet and round potatoes) and horticultural crops (cabbages, tomatoes, carrots and green pepper). Each farm, owned by the whole household, is cultivated under an intercropping system whereby maize, beans and peas are grown together for optimal use of land. Annual crop yields per household range between 400kgs and 500kgs of maize, 60kgs beans and 80kgs of green peas. Small amounts of sweet and round potatoes, vegetables and millets are harvested to supplement the diet in the dry season.
Animal husbandry is practiced on a small scale. Only a few people own poultry, cattle, pigs and donkeys. Donkeys are used as draught animals and oxen are used for land ploughing and cart pulling for carrying luggage. The average household income per annum is equivalent to around £100 sterling.
Community life in Mtitu is highly affected by poverty. All the same the community lives in harmony, and is optimistic for a better future. Economic development is limited by many obstacles. Community health issues are overwhelmingly large. Waterborne diseases such as typhoid, cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery and skin infections are rampant, in addition to malaria. In the dry season the community depends only on one water-well for drinking water. In the rainy season the situation is worse because people drink water from ponds and other stagnant water bodies. Children aged 5 and younger are the most adversely affected group. Mortality rates among children are very high. In addition, women and infants often die at the birth of the child.