Declining of environmental conservation in Tanzania has been partly due to poverty as one of the factors, this is because many people at local level cut down trees for charcoal, firewood and for house building without replanting other trees. It is also believed that the rate of planting trees is very low due to low income of the people and awareness on the importance of environmental conservation in their given localities.
This is different with Mhenda villagers in Kilosa district in Morogoro region. After community getting environmental education through a participatory methodology known as “Participatory Learning and Action” (PLA) which was conducted by Sustainable Holistic Development (SUHODE) foundation they decided together to start planting trees in their village.
Although their income is very low, they decided to use alternative methods to get polythen tubes for seedlings. They use used bottles of water, which they cut and filled with soil and then planted tree seeds in it.
Speaking with a Young Environmental Trainee (YET), one of the villagers said “our income is very low to buy polythene tubes because they are very expensive. We decided to use these used water bottles for planting tree seeds and it is helpful to us”
I also asked the village chairman, on the progress of tree planting in his village; - he said, it is good and the community accepted the idea and are planting more. He added that, PLA initiated a dialogue among community members and which enable community to develop their own ideas suitable for them.
A PLA facilitator said, “We are educating them to use their own available resources for their development; by using their own resources they develop a sense of ownership at high level and they become ready to protect what they have started.”
It is important to take into consideration, the local context and community knowledge when implementing environmental intervention in rural communities. We have to build on what the community have, and then advice them accordingly in a respectful and friendly manner.
Catherine Mathias- YET 2011