Sustainability Department

Although the Ilula Orphan Program has many international partners, it has made strong efforts to become more financially sustainable. These activities also support other IOP programs by providing resources such as food, uniforms, furniture, and energy. Where possible, the IOP has also focused on environmental sustainability through their work in agriculture, water management, alternative energy, and recycling. The organization has also been a regional pioneer in introducing green technologies including solar power, rain water harvesting, composting toilets, and low-energy cook stoves.


resizedIMG_3862editedSolomon describes the charting of egg production
resizedIMG_7108editedCorn provides nutrients to IOC staff, girls and visitors
resizedIMG_7211editedArtemesia, a natural malaria preventative, is sold from the 651 acre farm

Over the years, the IOC farm has become a valuable community institution. The food produced on the farm feeds the girls living at the IOC, volunteers and staff and the excess is sold to the community. On the farm, they raise livestock including cattle, goats and pigs for meat production. Each year 600 chicks are purchased and raised in brooder boxes; as adults they produce nearly 400 eggs daily for the center and sale within the local community. Once the chickens have reached their laying limit, they are sold as meat birds.

The IOP seeks to maximize income generation, volunteer labor and environmentally sustainable practices. For example, the three tractors, used for the harvesting and planting of crops and setting up fences, are also available to be rented out for community use. Manure from the farm animals is turned into fertilizer for the fruit and vegetable gardens, a cleaner and safer alternative to pesticide-filled fertilizer. And the girls living at the Center are responsible for daily farm chores and students in the Sponsorship Program contribute to collective harvests as part of their 30 hour/year volunteer requirement.

The IOP is also home to a 651 acre farm. A portion is used for the production of Artemisia, a plant used to make a tea that many locals consume as a preventative measure against malaria. The rest is being rented to other local farmers for income generation until the IOP completes its comprehensive irrigation and land use plan. “Farm 651” represents a ten-fold increase in the amount of land that the IOP plans to bring under cultivation. It is hopeful that additional donors and experienced volunteers will contribute and help with this expansion.



Happy picks Chinese cabbage from the IOC garden

The IOP maintains a large vegetable and fruit garden behind the Center. The vegetables grown include: tomatoes, peppers, garlic, onion and Chinese cabbage. The fruit garden is filled with: oranges, guavas, bananas, mangoes, papayas and lemons. The produce that is grown in the gardens is sold to the local community. A rain water harvest system and well, powered by solar energy, is used to water the gardens creating a safer food supply.You can find any of this fresh produce at breakfast, lunch and dinner for the girls and volunteers staying at the IOC on a daily basis.

Solar Power


Marco evaluating the solar panels that pump rainwater to water the garden

In an effort to reduce costs and lessen environmental impact, the roof of the IOC is lined with photovoltaic (PV) panels that supply most of the electricity for the center. The PV panels supply electricity directly during the day and also store electricity in battery packs that provide power to the Center at night and when there are power outages. Other PV panels in the gardens are used to pump well and rain water from the rain water harvesting tanks to the storage tanks.

Tree Nursery

Much of Tanzania, including the Ilula area in particular, suffer from the effects of drastic deforestation mainly due to many years of demand for fuel for cooking. To counteract this, the Tanzanian government passed legislation which severely restricts the harvesting of public wood for fuel. IOP started and continues to expand a tree nursery that will help supply an increased demand for young trees. In addition to firewood, these trees are valuable as sources of fruit and for their contribution to reversing the erosion and desertification taking place in the area.

The IOP plans to plant 75,000 trees on 150 acres of land by 2019. The current nursery demonstrates environmentally-friendly practices through the use of organic fertilizers and the recycling of plastic waste materials as planters.

Plastic water bottles are utilized as planters
resizedIMG_4045editedHundreds of trees habitate in the nursery
resizedIMG_7364editedAvocado trees ready for replanting


Workshops at the IOP perform a dual function as income generating activities as well as job opportunities for young people in the community, including former sponsored students who have learned a trade.

The fully functional carpentry shop provides job opportunities for four highly skilled individuals. Their projects span from custom solar powered ovens to most of the woodwork in the Center itself. In the future, the carpenters will be joined by welders working in an adjacent shop that has been built, but not yet fully equipped.

Clothing for students, both uniforms and shoes, are also being produced in IOP workshops. The tailor shop is a way for students to obtain school uniforms at a reasonable price in a central location. It also allows the four seamstresses who work there to take on additional orders from the community for extra income. The three employees at the shoe-making workshop can build up to 6 pairs of shoes a day, all by hand for students and other members of the community.

1MVI_6690.00_00_28_11.Still002Eric, the head carpenter, planes a shelf
Osolina, a sponsored seamstress, works to finish  hemming a volunteer’s skirt
 A cobbler describes his process

 Bite Café and Shops


The Bite Cafe services roadside visitors, staff and volunteers

Across the street from the Ilula Orphan Center lies the Bite Café and Shopping Center, two more sustainability projects aimed at income generation, employment opportunities and training opportunities for graduated sponsored students from the IOP. The Bite Café provides meals made from local food produced in the gardens of the IOP to visitors and community members alike. The Shopping Center, located next to the Bite Café includes a used-clothing store as well as a market style store that sells goods from food to school supplies.