Monday, August 30, 2010

Proposed Serengeti Highway, the Alternative Scenario?

Recently as we know, the government of Tanzania has approved a major commercial highway across Serengeti National Park in the direct path of the park's world-famous wildlife migration routes.
Despite pressure from global NGOs, Wildlife conservation bodies, development partners and donors it seems the government has remained stubborn and keep on defending the undefendable and is keen to go ahead with this controversial project.

Friday, August 27, 2010


It was on 2nd August 2010 when YET group had a field trip to Babati district. This was the practical lesson which followed after the theoretical one on the topic of environmental entrepreneurship at MS TCDC Arusha.
It was a great opportunity which provided the learners with knowledge and skills on investing on environmental resources including forests and land.
The trip included the three areas which were Farm Africa offices in Dareda, Berm village one among the villages which are working with Farm Africa and lastly Ayasanda village.


Environmental degradation has pulled the world’s attention now more than ever, geared by a desire to continue prospering industrially the developed world is now set to pay the developing world handsomely on any efforts they undertake in making sure that they reduce the rate of environmental degradation. The unfortunate truth is that, this money which comes in the form of grant or compensation is squandered and siphoned by scrupulous politicians and technocrats in the government and in the civil society sector alike.

In an effort to mitigate the effects of environmental degradation the local communities have for centuries been playing a great role with or without donor support, such efforts are nowadays down played and even criticized as not sustainable, not scientific etc. However, on an objective eye, no reasonable man would avoid the temptation of associating such despises with donor syndrome and a rat race chase for donor channel by CSOs and Government institutions.

Mid March this year, found me in Arusha-The Hague of Africa undertaking a Community mobilization course at MS Training Centre, as part of the training we went for a field trip which happened to be a visit at River Ngarenaro at Ngarenaro Ward. Had it not been for the bad name that the area had earned itself all over Tanzania in two to three years down the road, that it’s a slum, dirt, and dominated by low class inhabitants, I would not have been impressed by what transpired later as locals’ efforts to make a difference and preserve their environment.

At Ngarenaro River we were received by our hosts, a local organization led by few not articulate but right thinking youths-Setlife. As they took us along the beautiful banks of River Ngarenaro that was by now dominated by well cared for and lined up soft wood trees, we could not avoid being attracted by the beautiful aroma of pine and Cyprus which had now replaced the chocking filth smell of shit and leftovers that used to be piled along the river bank three to four years back. Going even further, were boys and girls aged as from 10 to 18 years planting more trees on a voluntary basis as we later came to learn. This gave us a chance to join the activity as we lent a hand by planting trees which we shall be proud of for years.

Specifically, Setlife attracted me on its innovative idea of not depending on donor support but rather use the opportunities available to make a difference in environmental preservation. Setlife so a gap of lack of proper garbage collection at Ngarenaro, which to them was not only a threat but also an opportunity, they decided that they will collect solid waste from all house holds at Ngarenaro for a token fee of Tsh. 300 thus not only securing employment for themselves but also giving locals an alternative of disposing of their garbage other than along River Ngarenaro at an affordable fee. This to me goes even further than employment and cost and covers; environmental protection along River Ngarenaro whose banks am told had been piling with heaps of garbage.

Having managed the collection of garbage from homesteads, Setlife invested at reclaiming River Ngarenaro from the garbage piles that had already been piled up before they started their operation. This was quite costy and tiresome considering the fact that they had to depend on the money they received from garbage collection. With the river banks clean, Setlife embarked on a tree planting campaign which is on going though the doors of success are wide open for Setlife.

It wasn’t easy at all, they say. They were met with several constraints including lack of locals’ cooperation at the beginning. Determined to make a difference they have set strategies to make sure that they have expert’s advice and political support from the government. This has been done by supporting a member to enroll at the University of Dares salaam and one member to contest for councillorship of the area.

These efforts are worthy emulating, Setlife is like a drop of water in the desert. It is a high time that youths will stop the proposal minded kind of NGO formulation and borrows the good work of Setlife. To me Setlife, so a gap and addressed it thus opening an opportunity for themselves and the community at large. Long Live Setlife! Long live River Ngarenaro!

By: Stephen Msechu.


Conservation of natural resources to the eyes of community is becoming more visible and already their resources are showing realized tangible benefits. With combined effort people in different community in Tanzania have been fighting towards conservation of their natural forest, wildlife and water catchment areas so as to nurture with the nature and ensuring sustainability of their natural resources.

This can be realized from the recent visit of group of Young Environmentalist Trainees( YETs) to the number of villages in Babati region which includes Dareda, Bermi,Ayasanda and Hali.The effort and acceptance of the community in these villages towards adaptation to the Livelihood option such as Beekeeping,Tree nursery,Mushroom farming ,Butterfly farming and improved stove shows a promising future to our natural resources as well as the Language of Environmental conservation. Despite of the conservation projects from different NGOs busting the community in conservation issues but individual effort and commitment was realized to be the engine towards this success.
“I and my family for number of year we have succeeded to conserve Natural trees,protection of water sources and practicing sustainable Agriculture’ Mr Joackim Mtambo who is the senior Local conservator from Hale village said when trying to highlight some of the major activities which have driven him towards conservation success.

Beehive being kept by Bermi Villagers as one of the Livelihood options(i.e. Beekeeping).

Community themselves however, they realize that ,it is madness waiting until the Conservation NGOs and Agencies harmonizing them to protect their environment and Natural resources , for this reason each villagers is responsible for conserving and protecting their Natural Resources and Environment. Speaking at the meeting between YETs member and the villagers of Bermi village, the Chairman of Bermi village about 10Km in the Southern part from Babati town said ‘through direct involvement in different projects implementation activities from the NGOs called ‘Farm Africa’ they are gaining a lot of benefit from being engaged in different livelihood options ( i.e Beekeeping , Butterfly farming , Mushrooom farming and Tree nursery) as mentioned earlier . Further more reports from the leadership from all villagers revealed that, to overcome the problem of threats to their Natural resources (Wildlife and Forest) and Environment within their village , they have formed responsibles task force such as Village Environmental commitee and village scouts to make tightly followup on those threats, however in most cases every one within the village is responsible to protect the resource.

Despite the truth that , there is promising voice from the community towards succes in Natural resource and Environmental conservation ,increased involvement of the government, NGOs and other private sector is the cornerstone which will make the dreams of the community on conservation to grow higher.Responsible NGOs investing in different conservation projects must ensure efficiency Capacity building to the community via different training ,seminars and workshop on various conservation techniques and this will act as fuel to achieve more succes as well as meeting the Millenium Development Goals.

By Justine Gwegime

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Tanzania Economy has been substantially liberalized over the past 20 years following the beginning of the World Bank Supported adjustment programme in 1986.In particular Tanzania has reformed its investment and tax laws to attract foreign direct investment and a range of incentives is now offered to all foreign investors[1]. Following the reforms a number of foreign companies took the opportunity and invest in the Mining sector.
The giant foreign mining companies dominating the sector include the Canadian company, Barrick Gold Corporation operates three mines in Bulyanhulu, North Mara and Tulawaka and is developing a forth at Buzwagi. And; the South Africa AngloGold Ashanti (AGA) which operates the Geita mine, known to be the country largest gold deposit. Gold and diamond production has been the mainstay of mining production for Tanzania however, following trade liberalization in the 1990s; the mining industry has been growing rapidly. In the late 1998, the mining of gold has been the fastest growing sector of the economy after Tourism.

Tanzania is currently the third largest gold producer in Africa after South Africa and Ghana. The mining industry is fairly small in terms of value, nevertheless very significant since the sector earns a considerably large share of the export revenues for the country. Currently, the mining sector contributes around 2.3% to annual GDP; however, the government desires to expand the same to 10% by 2025[2]. According to mining experts, the country is endowed with one billion ounces of gold unexploited as yet[3]. Only four percent of Tanzania`s gold potential is being exploited despite the country being Africa's third largest producer. It is important to note that as per 2002 gold price, Tanzania is a fortune owner of up to US$39bn which is over three times the country’s annual GDP of US$11bn even though extraction costs are considered in this figure[4].

The Mining Act of 1998 prior the new Act of 2010 was the principal legislative framework that regulates application and grant of mineral rights as well as payments of taxes and royalties. The government obtains revenue from exploitation of minerals through taxes and royalties. On one hand, corporate tax is a form of taxation levied on company’s profit calculated from gross sales minus operating costs, capital charges, interest and depreciation, depletion allowances and any other deductibles. Generally, it ranges from 15-45% of net profits. It is payable in cash to the relevant inland or tax authorities. On the other hand, royalty is a sum of money paid to the government by a holder of a concession; it is a revenue based tax. A royalty can be paid on gross amount of revenue generated from minerals without any deductions on costs; it is paid regardless of profit from the undertaken project. Royalties contribute substantially to the income of the government.

Mining Companies pay taxes and royalties as indicated in the Income Tax Act, 2004 R.E.2006 and The Mining Act, 2010 and other relevant laws. However there are complaints from the public that the mining companies are not paying taxes as required, hence the government loses revenue. Reference is made to the income of these companies per year and the amount they pay. There are evidence that what the companies declare as their income per year is not realistic as they tend to submit less and declare loss recovery.

Tax payments by mining companies have been an issue as there are contradictory figures. Establishing precisely as how much the government is earning from gold is difficult since contradictory figures have been given by various sources. For example Figures provided by the Tanzanians Chamber of Mines indicate that the government received the revenue averaging
$ 28.4 million a year amounting to 10 percent of the value of exports. UN’s trade organization, UNCTAD, they all show that the government revenues from the mining are exceedingly low, ranging from $ 13m a year to a high US$ 36m a year. As a percentage of exports government revenue is actually less than 10 percent a year in all these estimates[5].There is a need to conduct a research to compromise the figures or to come out with the realistic figures by making reference to income of the company per year and taxes paid by looking the records and other sources.

“We hear that every day that there is no money for the development projects for building schools and dispensaries. Yet people hear of billions of shillings lost in tax revenue………How do we explain this to people who we tell there is no money for basic services”, John Cheyo, Chairman, Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee”[6]

Whom to believe when reference is made to the existing discrepancies. With existing figures, there are a lot of doughty; the implication is that the country is not benefiting from the mining sector especially with regards to revenue/taxes paid by the mining companies
Action is required to ascertain the issue of taxes paid by the mining companies. This will help to know whether the government is losing or benefiting from the mining sector. When reference is made to the existing figures the government loses a lot with regards to revenues from the mining industry.

By Baraka Saiteu Kiboya.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


It was a nice day when we had a visit to Babati to learn on project environmental entrepreneurship and other successful projects conducted in the district. We hard a shared experience with villagers and the way Farm Africa has mobilized them for a change.
It was a place of a practical leaning since we visited many places to see how the community have responded to protect their own environment.
I lent among other things, livelihood options available like Bee keeping, butterfly farming and forest conservation projects.
I was interested with the Beekeeping technology since in the host organization there is an expected project of the same manner. In each case it will be a good experience when the project resumes.
When we visited Dareda, Eyasanda and Mzee Thambo’s farm I learnt on good relationship between the district government of Babati and the civil society organizations around together with other people in the community.
They supported ideas of private persons like Mzee Thambo and working hand in hand with Farm Africa for development of their people. In this Mzee Thambo’s farm I was convinced very much of the activities conducted by the old man for his development and people around.
The power of idea was successful in practice. The idea had opportunity to employ him and make his life meaningful.
Once more in Eyasanda forest conservation was successful and RED initiatives had taken place. They were paid for protecting the forest and used the funds to build schools and pay for children who could not manage fee. It was also a good experience for regulations and the way every body had direct benefit with the forest.
We found challenges. In Eyasanda hope was lost on the part of the government on the payment which was done since the intervention of the government in the system have made a process very complicated for them to get paid.
They could not know how much to get paid since they can not calculate the conservation return.
Market was also a challenge to Mzee`Tambo and other people around. It is difficult for their products to get sold in good price. YET had advised them to find market options and not to depend entirely on internal market which might rise little for their lives.
All in all, the trip was good and practical we lent many things, environmental conservation technique and related lively hood options available. Mobilization and strategies for environmental adult education in the village level.

Peace and unity in the Isles should not come at the expense of the Union

According to referendum results released on Sunday 1st August 2010, Zanzibar, has opted to enshrine power sharing in the constitution to end decades of crippling political feuds. “Two thirds of the semi autonomous Tanzanian territory's voters approved the idea of a coalition government being formed after the upcoming October 31 polls, the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced”.

The "yes" vote, supported by both the ruling CCM and the opposition CUF parties, mustered 66.4 percent while the "no" vote took 33.4 percent in the referendum held on Saturday.
"With these results, there is no loser and there is no winner. Let us believe that we have all won," ZEC chairperson Khatib Mwinyichande said.

The referendum bring an amendment to the constitution of Zanzibar, the Constitution redefined its territory as a sovereign state within the United Republic of Tanzania, have reignited the controversy over the future of the Union.
According to the amendments, Article 1 and 2 of the Zanzibar Constitution, which previously identified Zanzibar as part of the United Republic of Tanzania, have been deleted. The changes redefine Zanzibar is a state formerly known as the 'People's Republic of Zanzibar' with its territory composed of Unguja, Pemba and all the small surrounding islands, as it was before the 1964 merger with Tanganyika.
The new clause stipulates that Zanzibar is among the two countries that form the United Republic of Tanzania.

The Constitution of the United Republic proclaiming Tanzania to be a country resulting from the merger of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, as the one and only sovereign state, I am of the opinion that the recognition of Zanzibar as a state would "steal Tanzania's statehood". And I see that the amendment of the constitution indicates the break-up of the United Republic of Tanzania.
This article of the Constitution cannot be altered by Zanzibar House of Representatives alone. They have totally no mandate or authority on this issue. The House of Representatives had disregarded the laid-down procedure by altering constitutional provisions touching on the Articles of the Union.

Article 98 (b) of the Union Constitution states
Any Bill for an Act to alter any provisions of the Constitution or any provision of any law relating to any of the matters specified in List Two of the second schedule to the Constitution shall be passed only if it is supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all Members of Parliament from Tanzania Mainland and not less than two-thirds of all MPs from Tanzania Zanzibar.

Declaring Zanzibar as one of the two countries that form the United Republic of Tanzania was to change the structure of the Union to form a co federal authority between the people of Zanzibar and Tanganyika. This means that Tanganyika retains its sovereignty and statehood and so does Zanzibar. So you form a confederation. The statehood automatically moves out of that the United Republic of Tanzania and goes to Zanzibar and Tanganyika.
If the amendments are implemented there is not going to be a united republic of Tanzania. The nation has broken up.
Though I strongly support the reconciliation process that had culminated in the constitutional changes, the declaration that Zanzibar is a state has gone beyond the aim of bringing Zanzibaris together. Though it was crucial to bring about peace and unity in the Isles, this should not come at the expense of the Union; Zanzibar is a part of the United Republic of Tanzania.
Written by Magreth Makinge YET 2010


Few villagers today conduct indiscriminate hunting of wildlife in national parks in their neighborhood after the government started vigorous programmes to involve them in wildlife conservation exercise.
The exercise may have begun decades ago, but the last five years have seen more efforts by the government to reap the wealth potential that has been in the wild from time immemorial.
Tourism as one of the sources of revenues from the wildlife and other natural resources has a result attracted much attention of the state to give the people education about the potential wealth buried in their surrounding areas.
Awareness of how to exploit their environment with only some care and a little love has drowned much effort and enthusiasm from them resulting in big rewards.
Among the chief beneficiaries are women who as a means of emancipation have taken to beekeeping mostly in the districts of Babati, Handeni, Uyui and Manyoni.
Such efforts are commendable development in keeping with the government’s policy to empower women to avert their suppression and oppression.
Such economic goals prompted in the past five years the conception of awareness programmes to empower the people and attract them into considerable participation in wildlife conservation.
The period beginning from 2006 to date saw a noticeable growth of such programmes. Reforestation projects were initiated and matching plans to make people sustain the exercise of tree planting were drawn.
The effort has paid in profitable tourism that has benefitted the local communities in various parts of the country. Deliberate efforts to prove to the local communities the benefits of wildlife and forests conservation have been necessary.
Investment to exploit other potentials of the wild like lions in the country has also taken a good pace. Education to the people to empower them in that area has been a significant factor the government has provided to the people.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Environmental Injustice in relation to nature tourism

While many people perceive the term eco-tourism to mean a more friendly, most are not aware of the negative impacts that result from this type of tourism.

"Nature tourism" is based on the use of natural resources in an undeveloped state.

With this separation of people and nature, reserves areas in Tanzania were created without any consideration for the local communities.

Tourism industry has grown to be a $439 billion a year business. Tourism is one of the top five export categories in Tanzania. It is no surprise, then, Tanzania government wants to take advantage of this incredible economic opportunity. In competition with many other beautiful places, Tanzania has to make their lands look the most attractive to the tourism community, and, unfortunately, the price is paid by the local people.

Today, more parks and reserves are being created by the government without the participation or consent from the indigenous people. The indigenous people consider development, whether it is through tourism or other government projects, to only benefit others and not their own situations. Over the course of their existence, Maasai land has been taken away from them repeatedly, and after many broken promises of compensation and participation, the Maasai have started to fight for their land rights.

Maasai societies were sharing their land with the wild animals long before the arrival of those who use game only as a means of making money. They should not be pushed off from their own land for the financial convenience of commercial hunters and hotel-keepers.

The Maasai were highly influenced by the concept of privatization and its benefits and by the World Bank, which encouraged privatization. Privatization, however, was not an ideal substitution for the traditional migration that was so compatible with the land. While the Maasai did compete with the wildlife, it was not so significant for it to be damaging. Privatization concentrated their livelihood to a restricted piece of land, thus contributing to "unsustainable ecology”.

Two events have played into the environmental injustices that have occurred among the Maasai people. First, the Maasai lost considerable rangeland to the rich, white British colonists in the early part of their history, and it is unknown whether or not the land they were left with can sustain the remaining population. Second, to keep their parks desirable to tourists by preserving the wildlife, the governments restricted the Maasai to small parcels of land, which is not compatible with a pastoral way of life. It is ironic that while the government is blaming Maasai overgrazing on park degradation, they are encouraging unsustainable practices by restricting them from migrating.

This pastoral tribe relies on the land for raising their cattle. They have interacted with the land, sustainably, for thousands of years by migrating in order to allow the grass to regenerate. Ever since the British colonization, however, this interaction has been disrupted in order to protect the wildlife from unnecessary competition from the Maasai. This concern for the wildlife stems not from a moral ethic, but from the economic opportunities it creates.

The Maasai’s only demand is rights to the land that they have inhabited for years. Not only have they been denied this right, but they have not been compensated adequately for the land they have given up.

There are many things the government can do to break down the preconceptions they have about indigenous people and to recognize how tourism can negatively affect these people when considering future projects. The government should recognize that tourism is not only affects people by taking their land away, but that, it has many social and psychological impacts also.

There are many avenues for correction that should be explored by governments, the tourism industry and environmental organizations. Above all, they must realize that while they are preserving the wildlife in these areas, they are eliminating some of the most endangered groups in the world.

The governments should secure prior informed consent from the indigenous communities that exist in these areas before beginning a development project, and then give them more control over the implementation of the project. Their decisions should base on knowledge about both the pros and cons of development. We are tired of hearing about the ‘enterprise concept’ which usually promotes only the benefits of ‘development’ and we need to know the potential downside too.

Local control would give back to the community and would lessen the impacts of development because the indigenous communities would have more interest in preserving something they are actually benefiting from. However, with all the tour companies that exist today, local communities do not have the political or economic force to compete with these other corporations and their government.

The scale of the tourism project should be considered. The number of tourists should not overwhelm the local population.

The economic disparity between the host and the guest should be examined. This disparity could lead to increased hostility among the hosts and guests.

The cultural differences between the host and guest should be explored. Guests should respect the traditions and wishes of the hosts. Finally, guests should not come with any cultural expectations.

The government should realize that the local communities have a right to say no to tourism activities in the area. Finally, to compensate for such imposition, the government should support indigenous community programs.


Effects of climate change act as a threat mainly to the population that still depends on subsistence agriculture for their daily livelihood. The past trend on droughts, floods and recent poor harvest in 2005 which caused hunger in most parts of the country and disappearance of the ice cap at Mt. Kilimanjaro is now more than ever imminent evidence of climate change due to evident temperature increases caused by global warming.

Glacier retreat and change of vegetation on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro have made the latter one of the climate change hotspots in Tanzania. In the past dense forests around the mountain used to cause water flows in a number of rivers that originate from the mountain eventually forming the large Pangani River Basin comprising Nyumba ya Mungu, Hale and Pangani Hydropower Stations.

The livelihood of surrounding communities depend on the ecosystem over the mountain, reliable water, forests products, rain-fed and irrigatable agriculture as well as livestock manifested the paradise of Mt. Kilimajaro ecosystem.

Recently, water shortage, failing agriculture, depletion of forest stocks and unreliability of rainfall has been experience and in view of persistence of this negative feature it has been attributed to climate change.

The negative effects of climate change have been worsen by increasing population pressure and poverty, agricultural land has been inadequate and communities have encroached the formally catchment forest area and river valleys for agricultural purposes. Other courses being the current land tenure system, where family heads distribute the available land as an asset to sons, and allocation of the catchment areas and river valleys as farming land. This increase pressure from human settlement and resource use caused the need for intervention becomes inevitable.

In order to address this issue there are must be promotion of reforestation programmes to adopt climate change impacts. This will involve restoration of vegetation cover on the degraded areas and making available forest products to communities living in the area.

In order to improve the livelihood of communities around Mt Kilimanjaro there are must be establishment of projects that will provide alternative sources of income and food through replanting of trees and economic diversification

There are must be efforts that will increase awareness on climate change adaptation, biodiversity conservation and aforestation through community participatory efforts which will strengthen community participatory through CBO’s, schools, churches, youth groups, women groups in conservation activities.

Written by Magreth U. Makinge

Impacts of climate change in Tanzania

The adverse impacts of climate change are already having their toll in the livelihoods of people and in the sectors of the economy in the country. Frequent and severe droughts in many parts of the country are being felt with their associated consequences on food production and water scarcity among others. The recent severe droughts which hit most parts of the country leading to severe food shortages, food insecurity, water scarcity, hunger and acute shortage of power signify the vulnerability of the country to impacts of climate change.

Adequate food, good health, access to clean and safe drinking water, and sufficient energy for domestic and industrial use are critical factors for sustaining livelihoods and economic growth. The current drought led to critical food shortages leading to food insecurity and hunger. Thus major effort is required to achieve food security at national and household levels, and also to enable rural communities generate cash form farming activities.

It is high time to look at the country’s climate change related vulnerabilities in various sectors which are important for the economy. Since Tanzania’s economy is largely dependent on agriculture, it is deemed that sustainable development can be achieved when strategic actions both short term and long term are put in place to address climate change, and impact on agriculture.

There are must be efforts to promote reforestation programmes to adopt climate change impacts. This will involve restoration of vegetation cover on the degraded areas and making available forest products to communities living in the area.

Written by Magreth U. Makinge