Community participation is the key to all MRHP activities, giving people the skills rather than the finished products and allowing them to disseminate these within their own community at grass roots level. MRHP has strong connections with the villages in the Mwanza region and over the years has built up a long track record of effective delivery of community-based projects. This connection to the communities means that it is able to successfully develop rural community health, agricultural and social programmes that meet local needs, using local village contacts as facilitators and animators.

Mwanza Rural Housing Programme (MRHP) was initiated in 1990 with the aim of supporting the rural population of the Mwanza region to improve their housing conditions through enhanced building materials and construction skills. Its work has since expanded to cover agricultural development, civil rights including women’s issues, health care and environmentally sustainable housing technology.

The programme started as a government project and became an autonomous local NGO in 1995. Over the years it has received funds from a number of organisations, including VECO-COOPIBO (a Belgian NGO), Oxfam, the Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO) based in Zeist, Netherlands, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Bread for the World.

From its inception MRHP has received project assistance, methodological support and consultancy from Post Graduate Centre for Human Settlements (PGCHS) of the University of Leuven (KULeuven) in Belgium. This cooperation has led to several highly qualified PhD and master theses that have strengthened MRHP’s knowledge base, external exposure and successfully developed its networks with both national and international universities.