Ecotourism in a Nutshell

By Julia Galusiakowska – Art in Tanzania internship

On the cusp of the last years, ecology has been influencing our lives more and more, entering even the sphere reserved for tourism. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has effectively thwarted our travel plans, many believe we are reaching the final phase of the global health crisis. Countries are expected to open to tourists in 2022, which will be a perfect opportunity to reconsider our travel plans. Many may go in the direction of ecotourism – a combination of tourism and ecology.

The roots of ecotourism

Ecotourism dates back to when the availability of means of transport increased, facilitating travels to all the corners of the world on a mass scale. The negative effects of this tourism boom first received global attention in the 1950s: activists called to limit tourism in the Alps and Mediterranean resorts. The topic resurfaced in the 1970s, when the then young generation developed pacifist and pro-environmental sentiments, especially in North American countries. At that time, people started to look for alternative tourist destinations and ways of traveling. However, a serious discussion among international scientific authorities took place only in the last decade.

How to travel responsibly?

An “ecotourist” thinks through every expedition decision, looking at their actions from the perspective of what is beneficial for the environment and local communities. Seems simple, right? Yet, many still wonder what it means to travel in an eco-friendly way.

1. Travel to a quiet destination: some argue that it is the road that matters – the destination is only a secondary issue. And yet, ecotourists should pay attention to where they go. Thorough research is essential before setting out on the road. The less known and quieter the neighborhood, the better. You won’t find an ecotourist walking on the mountain ranges that remain the most besieged by trekking enthusiasts. Also, it seems highly unlikely to meet him in places overrun with tourists. A trip with a small circle of friends would always win with the sprees organized by travel agencies.

2. Choose an eco-friendly means of transportation: green travelers, whenever possible, choose a means of transport that emits as little exhaust fumes as possible. Ideally, transportation and logistics problems may be solved by buying the right bike, panniers, tent, mat, and sleeping bag. The cyclist traveler is an example to follow with their emissions-free expeditions. However, if your curiosity of the world pushes you to the areas beyond the reach of a vehicle powered by your own muscles, you need to use transport using the engine’s power. That is why using public transport, taking a boat or hitchhiking are choices that declared environmentalists also look upon kindly. Although – in some cases – the use of the aircraft or your own car happens to be the only reasonable solution, it may be condemned by die-hard nature lovers. If we, however, decide to go for it, then to be in line with ecological trends, we should avoid “carrying air.” Answer: optimize the course by taking friends on board.

3. Respect nature: when visiting places with unique natural values, green tourists ensure that such conditions could be admired by the next ecotourists. To do that, they recommend:

-Following the local conservation laws: although ecotourism aims to bring us into contact with wildlife, admiring the animals in their natural habitat should be a collision-free experience. One cannot forget that we are just guests in their homes – a dense forest, an endless meadow, or a picturesque mountain range. All the bans usually serve the purpose of protecting fauna and flora. 

-Taking care of rubbish: to be in harmony with the principles of ecotourism, one needs to leave the place their visiting in the same condition as they found it. If there are no rubbish bins on the route, every tourist must take back any waste.

-Reducing plastic use: if a tourist takes a reusable bottle on their trip, they can skip buying drinks in non-organic packaging. Remember that throwing a PET bottle in the trash is not a solution: decaying for hundreds of years, the plastic will stay in the region.

-Using biodegradable cosmetics: preparing for a camping trip organized in nature, it is advisable to pack hygienic products based on biodegradable substances. 

4. Contact with the local communities: apart from the purely environmental aspect considering the tourism-nature relationship, there is also an interaction with the local communities that should be rethought. It is recommended to always behave ethically and make sure not to offend our hosts with some ill-considered gesture. Before leaving for a foreign country, every ecotourist should get to know the customs to such an extent as to avoid the typical “traps” that lurk for people from a different cultural background. Also, it seems crucial to restrain oneself from any negative judgments that always result from our misunderstanding of local customs and traditions. What is more, it is good practice to support local services and trade. A souvenir from a local artist can remind us of unforgettable moments and support the author of an artwork. Shopping done at the bazaar means not only that we will eat something fresh; it is also a cash injection for local farmers.

The future of ecotourism

Ecotourism is often gaining popularity in times of danger when a tense political situation or natural disasters start to discourage travel agents’ clients from choosing mainstream destinations. At that point, usual mass tourists happen to discover the benefits of this particular form of activity. Amidst the pandemic, this is what has been happening. Although the travel plans are currently deferred, people increasingly realize the potential of ecotourism.  Will the world of the new normal be the same as it was before the pandemic? We don’t know that. However, the social distance may need to be maintained for a long time after the end of the COVID-19 era, meaning we can expect a shift from mass to individualized forms of tourism.

WHAT IS CLIMATE CHANGE AND WHAT ARE ITS EFFECT ON OUR PLANET? PART 4

By Gabriel Andre – Art in Tanzania internship

THE RESPONSE OF INSTITUTIONS TO CLIMATE CHANGE

1. UNEP and UNDP 2016-2021 environmental and development strategy

Through a country programme, UNEP (United Nation Environmental program) and UNDP (United Nation Development program) proposed a strategy to counteract climate change issues while improving the Tanzanian economic development. Based on a theory of change where better governance and better placed investment could decrease poverty as well as environmental degradation. In the same way, the goal is to enhance the participation in economic, environmental, and governmental issues of women, youth, and disabled individuals. To anchor sustainable development, UNEP wants to implement sustainable interactions with all institutions such as both private and public partners. In partnership with those institutions as well as the government, UNEP will be able to achieve sustainable development projects. Those projects will mainly focus on environment, natural resources, climate change governance, energy access and disaster risk management.

Þ Forestry, biodiversity, and ecosystems 

The forestry sector is leveraged with the agriculture of the Tanzanian developmental economy representing 90% of the country’s energy resources and ½ of his supplies in construction materials. Because of the high dependency on agriculture and the rapid population growth, pressure on the environment and natural resources have largely increased in the last few years. Deforestation, it’s becoming one of Tanzania’s major challenges. 

UNEP is taking action to improve institutional and regulatory frameworks for safeguarding protected areas and preserving biodiversity. To fight against deforestation and deteriorating environmental quality, the institution is focusing on many interventions: 

  • mainstreaming environmental concerns into development plans
    • Facilitating environmental laws and regulations
    • Scaling up community-based environmental protections initiatives

As well, to protect natural resources and avoid ecosystem degradation, UNEP actively works on: 

  • Improving conservation of forest biodiversity, ecosystems         
  • support efforts to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trade     
  • Scaling up sustainable land management practices
  • Supporting community based-forest management initiatives 
  • Promoting conservation agriculture

Finally, UNEP is highly supporting and promoting the REDD+ program. This program creates a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, by offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. Developing countries would receive results-based payments for result-based actions. REDD+ goes beyond simply deforestation and forest degradation and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.  

Þ Sustainable Land and Watershed management 

According to the UNEP, the Tanzanian land faces many challenges because of its fast development expansion and its demographic growth. Those challenges are the following: 

  • unplanned human settlements     
  • encroachment into forest areas   
  • inappropriate farming and livestock management practices       
  • unregulated mining activities       
  • poor inter-sectoral cooperation   
  • weak stakeholder linkages            
  • poorly planned and uncoordinated action 

To fight against those challenges, UNEP and UNDP (United nation development program) will take example in the Sustainable land management (SLM) program implemented in other 

Countries that have been successful. The lack of financial resources and adequate capacity in Tanzania remains a key barrier to this program. Both institutions will mainly focus on building institutional capacity and strengthening coordination between stakeholders, implementing practical SLM interventions to land degradation in forest, rangelands and arable land. Finally, they will promote watershed (hydraulic pool) management interventions to show environmental challenges to the Tanzanian community. 

Þ Climate change adaptation and mitigation

As a result of climate change manifestation, Tanzania will face a rise in extreme events as droughts, floods, the rise of sea level, dwindling water sources as well as impacts in the agricultural sector, energy sector and health sector. UNDP’s plan proposed support by promoting the implementation of sustainable strategies through high-capacity building initiatives and the establishment of proper institutional, policy and financial frameworks in collaboration with all key stakeholders, including the private sector. At the local level, implementing small scale climate change adaptation projects to create livelihood opportunities particularly in the agricultural sector as population depends on rain-fed agriculture as a source of livelihoods, income, and consumption. 

For example, promote and help the IITA (international Institute of Tropical Agriculture) in their work with farmers to get agricultural expertise’s. Debate sessions are organized to discuss essential topics such as “What crop can I grow with this irregular rainfall season?”. The final goal is to help those farmers to have sustainable agriculture. 

Moreover, UNDP wants to focus mainly on the implementation of COP21 Paris Agreement outcomes, under the United Nation Framework on climate Change. They will focus on supporting the government in order to create a framework for the implementation of INDC’S (Intended National Determined Contribution) which will be leading to greenhouse gas emissions reduction. 

Þ Sustainable energy 

To tackle the development of the fossil industry and transit to sustainable energy, UNDP implemented the SE4ALL (Sustainable energy for all) program to be achieved by 2030 in Tanzania. This program focuses on three targets: 

  • Ensuring universal access to modern energy
    • Doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency
    • Doubling the share of renewable energy in global energy mix

The institution was able to mobilize significant political support before RIO+20 and continued to provide coordination and technical assistance around those three targets. 

Thanks to UNDP, sustainable energy access for all in Tanzania is moving fast. By coordinating the implementation of the SE4ALL initiative, an Action Agenda and an investment prospectus has been created. It brings poorer communities appropriate, reliable, and affordable energy technologies. This can be possible mainly by improving policy and regulatory framework, improving institutional framework and human capacity, strengthening the M&E (Monitoring and evaluation) framework as well as generate relevant data. 

Þ Resilience and disaster risk reduction

Resilience is the ability of the system, community, and society to resist, to accommodate against hazards. Over 70% of all-natural disasters are hydro-meteorological and the major disasters have included droughts, floods, and epidemic diseases. All of them, affecting humans and wildlife.

As an example, let’s take the “El Niño phenomenon” that occurred in Tanzania in 2011. It causes massive floods which wash away crop farms and damage transport infrastructure, such as roads and railways. As well as destroying houses making people homeless. It also increased diseases. We’ve seen the impact of an RCP 8.5 scenario; phenomenon’s like “El Niño ” will occur increasingly frequently. 

As a response, UNDP’s proposal is to strengthen the institutional framework of meteorological institutions, including the establishment of a 24/7 Emergency center for climatic disaster management. Improve weather and climate forecasting infrastructure throughout the procurement of the installation of highly sophisticated hydro-met technologies to improve collection of the hydro-met data. 

Also, they want to improve analysis, interpretation, and customization of data in order to provide relevant information to groups including farmers, urban and rural dwellers, and aviation. Finally, the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) to improve coordination in dealing with disasters between the relevant institutions. 

2. Climate Action Network International implication for Tanzania

Moreover, other than the United Nations institutions, other NGOs stand out for their innovative projects and their response to the global warming threat. It’s the case of Climate Action Network (CAN) International, very active in Tanzania. 

Þ Climate Action Network Annual Strategy Session 2020 in Arusha

In February 2020, CAN organized the Annual strategy session about Climate change in Arusha. This event, which brought together several major climate actors, was an opportunity to discuss two major topics: “What does it mean for society/funders to build power in this climate emergency?” and “What are they doing to respond to the crisis and what do they believe is CAN’S role?”.

Through many debates and workshops all these actors agreed on the priority areas where investment is needed in terms of funding, human energy, and collaborative strength. Centering climate impacts and people to ensure governments act with urgency as well as exposing and undermining the fossil fuel industry, are the two priorities CAN and other NGOs should focus on. 

Major events are going to take place in the next five years depending on the pandemic situation. These gatherings involving actors from all over the world (government, NGOs, the private and public sector industry) will be an opportunity to put these two issues on the table on a larger scale in order to take urgent action for our planet.

Þ CAN interventions and actual projects

In the meantime, while awaiting those gatherings, CAN already started its fight for the climate by working on diverse projects and implementing solutions for the Tanzanian community. Here is the major one’s: 

 Water Purification & Biogas Plant (TAHUDE Foundation) is an initiative to build low carbon and resilient communities by providing access to clean drinking water and energy. 

 Climate-Smart Agriculture (ACT) is a community-led action agricultural initiative, which provides training to farmers on climate smart agriculture techniques such

as water conservation (bases/pots technique), short harvesting period, intercropping and mulching materials. 

 Climate-Smart Coffee Farming by Solidaridad is also a community-led initiative which provides training to coffee farmers on climate-smart coffee farming practices such as developing pest resistant methods, water harvesting/ conservation, short harvesting cycle crops, nursery practices, intercropping and shade coffee management. 

 Water for Livestock (Oikos) is part of the ECOBOMA initiative which is a project to build the adaptive capacity of the vulnerable Tanzanian community to cope with the adverse effects of climate change and reduce poverty in rural areas. 

 Tree Planting & Forest Conservation (Arumeru District Government)

 Media Training Bootcamp: a practical skills session to build the capacity and strengthen the member’s ability to be spokespersons and to deliver powerful messages for press conferences and interviews. 

 Leadership & Diversity and Building a Grassroots-Driven Network Bootcamp: the objective of this session is to build members’ knowledge and understanding of how to link policies with people and navigate power and privilege to facilitate diverse inclusion and create safe, engaging spaces for grassroots leadership and organizing across CAN. 

 Developing Funding Proposals Bootcamp: the purpose of this session is to provide members with concrete ideas and shared thinking on good and effective fundraising. The bootcamp facilitated discussions on key elements of fundraising,

a good elevator pitch and how to approach funders and keep the communication lines open.

Shape, rectangle

Description automatically generated Fossil Fuels Non-Proliferation Treaty Bootcamp: this session provided members with a background and overview of the Non-proliferation Treaty for Fossil Fuels Initiative. This initiative uses the experience and outcomes of the Non-proliferation Treaty on Nuclear as a basis and is trying to adapt this to dealing with fossil fuels. The session explored a set of high leverage strategies that this initiative could galvanize around such as the phase-out of fossil fuels and shifting narratives on fossil fuels, strengthening local action to stand against fossil fuel expansion, and encourage international cooperation to stop fossil fuel proliferation through a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.

After the announcement of all these projects, we can better understand the involvement and dedication of the institution to change the habits of the Tanzanian community to provide them with a more promising future than RCP 8.5. However, there is one last project that particularly caught my attention, and which demonstrates the long-term impact vision that the institution is trying to establish.  This CAN project is the climate and livelihood center in Bagamoyo. The purpose of this green village is to link scientists to the communities to provide new initiatives. Many activities are organized going from cultural events to environmental workshops. Everybody is welcome regardless of their work sector (fisherman’s, students, small-scales farmers, etc.). The center provides knowledge through training and teaching, the possibility to implement the improvements directly on the site and most of it, the center tried to provide this networking to have a bigger impact and reach more communities and partnerships. 

They organized three workshops in December 2019 to raise awareness and inform the participants on renewable energies (RE) and the necessity of transitioning to clean and affordable energy. 124 participants were representatives of women groups, local government authorities, and civil society organizations. 

Because the baseline study was focused on their own villages, people were highly interested. The survey showed that 92% of the households were not capable of paying the highly initial cost of renewable energy. But the community saving groups might present an opportunity for decentralized energy.  42% were unaware of the potential of RE, only solar was common and most of them (91% of the survey) use charcoal and firewood for cooking 

Because of deforestation, people have difficulties using firewood (takes three hours to collect) and their only alternative is charcoal. Many of the village’s council stated that they did not include RE into their agenda due to the lack of understanding and support from government and non-governmental stakeholders. 

Participants were really curious and interested about identifying achievable and long-term solutions. With the help of CAN in Tanzania, they establish and initiate RE clubs in primary and secondary schools that allow children to be innovative and creative. Finally, those workshops promote awareness about RE. Shumina Rashidi, the councillor of the Bagamoyo District and a businesswoman, for example told the CAN team: “In the workshop I learnt that cooking with gas is very cost effective – especially because I am living in Bagamoyo town, where it is available everywhere. I am going to use gas for cooking – not only for my health, but also to protect the environment. “  

The important point is to understand that these people have no idea of what climate change is, why we said that the globe is becoming warmer, and why we should care about fossil fuels. That’s why it’s essential to sensitize and inform them before taking actions or implementing projects where they don’t understand the environment purpose. 

3. Collaboration between NGOs and Government 

During our interview, Adelaide Mkwawa said “you know there is a huge friction between NGOs and the government. If NGOs tell the truth and the government disapproves, they can remove your NGO license”.  NGOs have to be very careful and clever not to come into conflict with the lack of investment and impact of the government while at the same time making them understand the importance of acting quickly and strongly. 

For Adelaide, who had also worked for the UNAT (United Nation international justice system), NGOs had implemented lots of projects in response to the SDGs. Most of them have being undertaken by the Parliament Group of sustainable development to enter those propositions and projects in the government budget. But at the moment, where those projects and propositions are in the hands of the government then it’s really hard to find their progress because of the lack of information and the lack of knowledge to communicate by the government. Communication between institutions is really poor due to lack of resources and the inordinate amount of time that elapses between the transmission of the first information and its evolution. For Adelaide, this is one of the biggest issues and that’s why projects in Tanzania take so much time. In her opinion, the creation of a communication sector that’s effective will facilitate this collaboration between the government and NGOs. 

Investment for Climate change is all about communication and collaboration. Even for the private and public sector. A close collaboration between institutions on their new methods and techniques to afford sustainable development is a key point to move forward. Some institutions in Tanzania have excellent ideas to fight against this global warming while in the meantime ensuring the economic development of the country. This is the case of TWIGA CEMENT INDUSTRY. 

4.  Combining economic development and environmental responsibility: TWIGA CEMENT example

Tanzania Portland Cement Company Limited (TPCC) also called TWIGA Cement is a cement-manufacturing company. Member of the Heidelberg group and listed in the Dar es Salaam stock exchange, is the largest cement manufacturer and reports a company total asset of 322 billion TSH (141 million US$). 

The challenge for TWIGA is colossal. On the one hand it is one of the biggest employers in the region, employing hundreds (more than 300 in 2019) of people. These jobs are quite simply indispensable for people’s survival from a human and community point of view. Moreover, it is one of the main reasons for the development of the region, where their cement has enabled the construction of many buildings and most of the houses.  However, on the other hand, it is one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases and is at the origin of many environmental challenges, in particular its production: Soil erosion, soil health, topography, deforestation, pollution of waterways, health, and safety of workers and community. 

We had the chance to visit it and we realized some important facts during this day. First, there is a military base in the company’s own premises which testify an economic state interest and a voluntary security to the factory. Second, most of the workers pass have also a Chinese translation which testify an economic interest from China. 

The largest drivers of climate change are large corporations and industrial factories. Since TWIGA belongs to this category they are holding themselves responsible to reduce their negative impact on the environment. Despite all the prejudices I had on this type of company, I was quite surprised. 

TWIGA Cement counters their negative action by giving to nature what they had stolen from her. About ten years ago they founded the Nursery project to tackle their environmental impact. In order to collect these precious stones for the creation of cement, TWIGA has to dig for hundreds of meters, destroying the surrounding nature. When the digging space is exhausted, they fill it with soil and sand and replant some fast-growing tree species on top. These trees allow the soil to be re-fertilized, thus restoring the basic natural conditions. Once the fertilization has been completed, the fast-growing wood is cut for consumption and various new species are then planted permanently. It’s at this point that the nursery project appears.  

The goal of the nursery is to mitigate damage being done to the surrounding environment, improve the health and wellbeing of underserved groups in the community, such as school children and prisoners by providing free shade trees. The nursery improves air quality and the environment at large through carbon sequestration. In the nursery they have quite a lot of species going to the Averrhoa bilimbi (culinary interest and the leaves serve as a paste on itches, swelling, rheumatism, mumps, or skin eruption) to the moringa oleifera (Its young pods and leaves are used as vegetables. The seeds are also used to purify water, as a detergent, or as a medicinal plant.) and even mint. 

A barren plot of land in close proximity to the cement production has been transformed into a lush haven for biodiverse plant species and crucial pollinator species. Many of the trees grown there have medicinal benefits or are fruit bearing. To achieve their goal TWIGA has undertaken this project and educates the community by engaging with volunteers and hosting students to teach them how to maintain gardens and plant trees. They are also introducing the concept of sustainability to many local youths and giving them the tools to raise their own trees in needed areas. They are spreading the culture of sustainability and changing the mindsets of the young generations. 

However, there are still some challenges to achieve such the six volunteers in the nursery compared to the hundreds of people employed in the factory. Despite all the efforts made, we can still understand where the priority is. 

TWIGA Cement could be a great example to follow for many drivers around Tanzania and even further. Everybody needs cement, unfortunately in Tanzania, wood is the main construction material and the transition for sustainable tools that avoid deforestation and greenhouse gases are not readily available today. The carbon sequestration provided by those hectares of nursery, permits TWIGA to achieve its goal of developing Dar es Salaam district while at the same time reducing its negative impact. 

Investing in R&D (Research and Development) for green energy could be the next step for TWIGA cement to achieve their goal of being a zero-carbon emission company. 

Because at the end, compared to developed countries such as European ones or the United States, African countries and especially Tanzania have only small responsibility in the global warming issue. Tanzanian people because of low incomes mostly consume daily needs. Most of them don’t travel out of their countries because plane tickets are too expensive, and their water consummation is ridiculously low compared to a country like Germany or France. When you drive through Tanzania you don’t see any herds with thousands of animals, in other words no intensive farming and all their agriculture is natural, i.e., without the use of pesticides. Still Tanzania and other African countries will be the most affected by climate changes in the next decades. 

As I said, Tanzania is a small greenhouse gases emission driver. Nevertheless, if the major drivers of those greenhouse gases which are mainly fossils industries. Take the example of TWIGA Cement and how they invest in R&D for clean energy, Tanzania could become an example of sustainable development for all African countries. 

CONCLUSION

Through my internship at the Art in Tanzania institution, I had the chance to participate in many debates classes whose aim was to learn English while debating on sensitive subjects such as religion, waste management or Covid 19. I was very surprised by the open-mindedness and the stance that Tanzanians can take on such subjects. Unlike our European countries where discussions often turn into a confrontation of two ideals rather than the understanding and acceptance of a difference. Therefore, after more than two months of living together and sharing their traditions, I am convinced that the Tanzanian community has a key role to play in their climate issue. The government and the various institutions that want to work towards a more responsible and sustainable economy can rely on the collective strength and openness to change of its people.  Tanzania can become a pioneer in the development of a green and responsible economy. To do so, its community needs to be informed and heard. The government and institutions need to invest heavily in intelligent campaigns to raise awareness of the benefits of the environment and the importance of caring for it. As we have seen with the example of the workshops held in the Bagamoyo Knowledge Centre, the participants are more than interested in green energy as it can improve their daily lives, their economy, and their biodiversity. The Tanzanian community is willing to listen and act for the good of their country, if it will improve their life. The next generations have a major role in this awareness, and it is through the youth that these innovations will be born. Of course, nothing worth doing is easy and such a transition will not happen overnight. 

Solar Panels – the future of electricity in Tanzania

Electricity has been named by many Tanzanians as the biggest inhibitor for success.

Tanzania has the largest population in East Africa, estimated at 52,482,726, with a very high annual population growth rate of 2.77%. 31.6% of the population lives in an urban area, leaving an estimated 35,897,237 people residing in rural areas. Access to improved drinking water sources is available to 55.6% of the total population, with just about 3/4 of these people living in urban areas. 46.8% of Tanzanians have unimproved drinking water sources, the majority of which reshopside in rural areas. With regards to improved sanitation facilities, 15.6% of the population utilizes them, leaving 84.4% of Tanzanians with access to solely unimproved sanitation facilities.

Access to safe drinking water and the use of improved sanitation facilities are used as measurements for the development and overall well being of a country. Improved drinking water sources include piped household water collection, as well as access to protected dug wells, springs, and rainwater collection. Unimproved drinking water sources are unprotected dug wells and springs, along with bottled water and tankered truck water.

598351_10151100231971930_978032409_n-300x199Compared to the world average of 89% of the total population having access to improved drinking water, Tanzania has fallen majorly behind. While taking into account the use of improved sanitation facilities as a means for measuring development, Tanzania also lacks due to the fact that the majority of the population is not able to ensure hygienic separation of human excretion from human contact. Finally, just over 75% of Tanzanians live without electricity, and rely on toxic kerosene or diesel generators for lighting.

Current National Grid and Electricity Access

The current national power grid in Tanzania is summarized as inefficient because of its inability to provide power to the majority of the population. Powered by fossil fuels and hydroelectric, the lines exist in the northern and eastern part of the country and sparsely in the south, but are nonexistent in the more rural west. Increased access to the national grid is at the extremely slow growth rate of 1% per year. Furthermore, in many cases people whose homes are connected to the national grid still do not receive electricity. With the expansion of the national grid, many site unreliable energy supplies and poor quality of supply as great problems. Furthermore, it is expensive to extend the national grid and distribution systems due to a lack of government funding.

charcoalOver three quarters of the population live without access to electricity, and many Tanzanians rely on charcoal for cooking and firewood collection. Currently, one of the largest threats to deforestation in Tanzania is the collection of firewood for fuel. In addition to this, the dirty smoke emitted from charcoal fires leads to many chest and lung problems. Electricity has been named by many Tanzanians as the biggest inhibitor for  success. This takes into account the fact that shopkeepers have to close their doors early due to a lack of light, schools can not operate outside of daylight hours, and many medical facilities have to send patients to farther locations for certain tests and operations.

A Solution for Developmentsolarpanel

Off-grid solar panels are small and durable. They are able to manage enough power to charge cell phones, lights, and other basic necessities. The main advantage to off-grid solar panels is their flexibility, both geographically and economically. Off- grid solar panels can also be implemented into improved drinking water consumption through solar water purifiers and well systems with solar powered pumps. Solar panel cookers will also help reduce the use of nonrenewable fuel sources, therefore greatly improving Tanzanians standard of living.

The environmental advantages of implementing solar panels are enumerable. Tanzania  has the unique opportunity to rapidly reduce the amount of nonrenewable energy sources, by going directly to a solar powered future. With their rapidly growing population a new market of energy consumption will emerge that could be completely fulfilled through solar panels, as opposed to largely contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. Solar is dropping in price and beginning to compete with nonrenewable forms of energy. The World Bank energy data states that it costs 20 cents per kilowatt hour for solar, compared to 25 cents for fuel.

Implementation

img_3075Utilizing smaller off-grid solar panels fits the budgets of rural Tanzanians. People can put the money that would have originally been spent on fuel to finance their solar systems. Microfinance organisations are now  lending to allow householders to buy solar panels. The total installation
of the average off-grid solar panel can cost up to $1,000. However, locals are able to pay smaller installments through their mobile phones in order to eventually cover the entire cost. Payments such as these average around 20c a day, or can be made into larger monthly installments.

Establishing off-grid solar panel networks also offers a plethora of employment opportunities to locals. Over the next decade it is predicted that the renewable energy sector will become one of the largest employers in Africa. The leading seller of off-grid solar panels is creating on average 40 new jobs per month. Companies such as Solar Sister are offering more opportunities to women, and developing communities through leveling gender inequality. Furthermore, off-grid systems often utilize existing means of transportation to get their product to rural areas. The local jobs created through installation and equipment distribution are greatly adding to the development of Tanzania.

Challengessolarpack

As with any new program challenges will arise. The main concern for new solar panel companies is being able to secure their loan payments from customers. This can be achieved through mobile payments, which allow financiers to receive small regular pay installments. After paying the installation fee, customers are able to continue to pay for the rest of the total over time. This ensures that lenders will not lose money, because they are able to remotely lock and unlock the solar panel systems, based on the customer’s repayments. Offering the option to lease the solar panels further enhances the customer’s willingness to pay the smaller fees, while allowing lenders to have collateral. With nearly every Tanzanian having access to a cell phone, mobile payments for solar panels is an effective solution.

Sustainable operation of the solar panels is another issue that must be addressed initially. In order to have a sustainable operation it is important to establish infrastructure within the locations that the solar panels will be used. In order to cut costs, it is viable to use already
existing modes of transportation to deliver the product. Various solar panel companies have installed trackers in their products, ensuring that the panels reach their destination while traveling through third party delivery systems such as trains, city buses, and local delivery people.

Maintenance must be upheld through the education of local employees. While training local people on the installation and upkeep of the solar panels, awareness of the product would also expand. This would in turn create more jobs and boost local Tanzanian economies. Overall, when the solar panel companies work with local citizens they not only save money, but help the development of the country.

There are many new innovations with regards to anti theft lock devices for solar panels. These lock devices can be bought separately, or included in the initial solar panel purchase, and often consist of bolts or locks to secure each individual solar panel. Through the expansion of more secure solar panels, the reduction in stolen products will be significant, and the security of investments greatly improved.

small-solarThe final problem is managing parts of the solar panels after they are no longer functional. The biggest issue is recycling old GEL-type, lead type, and smaller lithium type batteries. Dar es Salaam City alone produces around 3,000 tons of waste per day. With this in mind, recycling old products is important to the environmental sustainability of installing solar panels.

The Recycler, Tanzania’s main source of recycling, is able to collect and store electronic waste. Getting a local organisation such as this would be a convenient option. In addition to this, there are a few international organisations that do work on recycling unusable products of solar panels. Companies such as PV Cycle are operating on a non-profit business model worldwide. They often establish global markets, and may prove to be useful in recycling solar panel batteries in Tanzania.

Furthermore, the implementation of solar panels and their usage of batteries could open a new market in Tanzania, one focused on the recycling of solar panel products. This market could be very profitable, as well as extremely environmentally conscious, because around 90% of the material recovered from solar panels and their batteries can be recycled into useful products.

Current Funding

Most solar panel organisations have received funding from a variety of sources. The Rural Energy Agency of Tanzania, operating under the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, works to promote access to modern energy in rural locations throughout the country. They provide resources for grants, technical assistance, and financial assistance in the form of investments for different renewable energy projects. This agency spends approximately $400million a year on supporting various clean energy sources.

International donors also help offset the cost of development and installation of solar panels throughout Tanzania. Organisations such as the World Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, USAID Development Innovation Ventures Program, and The International Finance Corporation have made major investments in this growing industry. The IFC has so far provided $7 million in order to reach over 100,000 households in Tanzania. Private international investors all around the world are beginning to see the profits in investing in solar panel technology. In 2014 more than $45 million was invested by private investment companies in the off-grid solar sector, and that number has continued to grow.

As a result of the numerous ways in which solar panels will help with the development of Tanzania, and in line with the ever growing globalization of our world, it is clear that investing and supporting off-grid solar panels is a profitable and worthy venture.

Text: Stephanie Gray
Environmental Sustainability Intern, Art in Tanzania

Photos: Marjut Valtanen

Sources:

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/tz.html

https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/global/assessing.html

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/tz.html

http://blogs.worldbank.org/africacan/only-14-of-tanzanians-have-electricity-what-can-be-done

Click to access Brief-Digitally-Financed-Energy-Mar-2016.pdf

http://www.pvcycle.org/services/global/

http://phys.org/news/2014-08-recycling-batteries-solar-cells.html

http://rea.go.tz/Projects/TheRuralEnergyFund/tabid/150/Default.aspx

http://fortune.com/2015/12/22/off-grid-solar-africa-booming/

Uzi Island needs environmental interns and volunteers

Road to Uzi

Road to Uzi

Uzi is a small island in the south of Zanzibar’s main island, Unguja. The road to Uzi is called Nyeker road; manmade using rocks and stones with at least four types of mangroves on either side. The road to Uzi resembles the partition of the River Nile in the story of Moses; simply mesmerising. The road has been built slowly over 50 years. It started off as a small lane for walking; this was then made wider for the use of bicycles, then for cows and finally it was made even wider for the use of motor vehicles.

The drive to Uzi Island is very beautiful, but very bumpy, if you suffer from motion sickness, be sure to sit at the front of the vehicle or make yourself as comfortable as possible.

Our informative and helpful guide, Isshaka, met us at a resting point, made with the help of volunteers for when the tide comes in. The water can rise up to two metres when there is a full moon. When the tide is high you can goDSC03795 fishing. The land in Zanzibar is so fertile we were able to plant four mangrove seeds each, Twenty (Edward) steps from the resting point, on the right, which fulfilled a personal ambition to plant trees that will definitely grow.

The town to Uzi and has been there for around 10 years along with three wells on the Island that provide drinking water. A Dala Dala, number 334, from Uzi to Stone town takes around one hour.

Uzi baskets made by women's group

Uzi baskets made by women’s group

The main sources of income for the Island are from fishing, farming and carpenter work. There are also woman groups on the island and the woman craft their own fruit baskets that Art in Tanzania export to Finland and also sell on EBay for around 25 Dollars.

Within the mangroves, women from the villages have placed plastic bottles across the water in order to collect two types of seaweed, they use plastic boats to collect these when the tide is high; 100 of these plastic boats were donated by a friend of Isshaka. The seaweed is then made into soaps and sold in order to provide income to the villagers.

helloIsshaka went to school in Uzi then to Ston etown to study further. Isshaka is very passionate about wanting to make a difference and help people live a better life in Uzi. Isshaka does 2 radio broadcasts throughout the week; one where he brings awareness of environmental issues on Uzi Island and what others can do to help, and another broadcast called Sunset Zanzibar, where he talks about tourism and the importance to the island and how tourism can help the island develop.

Uzi grows many fruits such as Mangoes, Oranges, Guava, Yams and Cassava. Alrge Baobab trees also grow in Uzi; the villages used to cut these down, however Isshaka has been campaigning to keep these trees in order to house bee boxes that provide honey to the locals; honey season is September to October. The Baobab fruit when mixed with water and sugar is a good source of Vitamin C.

Biogas from biowaste

Biogas from biowaste

The Island really needs creative interns and volunteers passionate about the environment and sustainable development. Also people that can help the women create innovative arts and crafts in order to sell and help provide an income for many households on Uzi Island.

For volunteering at Uzi  you can contact  Art in Tanzania info (at) artintanzania.org

The need to be a responsible tourist?!

Lovely sunset in Zanzibar, where tourism is blooming.

Lovely sunset in Zanzibar, where tourism is blooming in the recent decades.

Tourism is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing industry among all. The rising living standard, increased leisure time and the desire to learn about the world has increased the mobility of worldwide travellers. In 2015, the number of international travellers is reported to be 1.18 billion, which has increased by 262% compared with what we had in 1990. This number is predicted to reach 1.6 billion by 2020, which is more than the total population of Europe and the U.S. combined.

Tourism has brought significant benefits to some destinations by being the major source of income and job provider. Last year, tourism generated US$ 7.6 trillion (10% of global GDP) and 227 million jobs (1 in 11 jobs). In some small islands and developing countries, tourism is the mainstay of the local economy, where its importance to the country’s finance tend to be higher. The growth in tourism is proved to help combat poverty and relieve unemployment issues.

Tourism has brought significant benefits to some destinations by being the major source of income and job provider. Last year, tourism generated US$ 7.6 trillion (10% of global GDP) and 227 million jobs (1 in 11 jobs). In some small islands and developing countries, tourism is the mainstay of the local economy, where its importance to the country’s finance tend to be higher. The growth in tourism is proved to help combat poverty and relieve unemployment issue.

However, this tremendous growth is not happening without consequences. Tourism has been found to cause devastating impacts to the wider environment and society. To name a few, hotels are always a big consumer to water which has resulted in conflicts between local use and tourism development. Taking the case here in Tanzania, while the whole tourism and hotel industry is on the rise that tourists are enjoying all sorts of water facility; farmers in Dar es Salaam have been left with no choice but using polluted water to irrigate their crops for they have no access to clean water. (More on http://www.ippmedia.com/?l=88539). Study has shown that every household in Zanzibar uses an average of 93 litres per day whereas the average consumption of water use in a five star hotel can go up to 3195 litres per room per day. These figures prove how tourism is causing intense pressure on local water use. Sewage and wastewater discharge from hotels could also lead to fresh water contamination.

Do we realize that tourism is using too much water from the local community?

Do we realize that tourism is using too much water from the local community?

 

Tansania wildlife safari in Mikumi National Park and in Udzungwa Rainforest. Tansanian safari Mikumin luonnonpuisto ja Udzungwa sademetsän retki.

Tanzania wildlife safari in Mikumi National Park: it is important to make sure that such beautiful scenery will not be compromised by tourism.

Contributing to global warming is another great problem of tourism while air travels release significant amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The loss of forests for tourism infrastructures also aggravates the carbon emission problem. While natural beauty is one of the main attractions in tourism, the growth of tourism activities can have adverse impacts to the beautiful sceneries. For example, tourism construction causes transformation of landscape and disruption of views; also, water activities can cause pollution and disruption to marine life and biodiversity.

 

The Massai

The Massai

Socially, tourism can turn local cultures into commodities when the traditional elements are modified to satisfy the tourist expectation. The visit of Maasai tribe is one typical example in Tanzania while tourists usually expect to see the Maasai men dancing in their beautiful cloths and jewellery but have little interest to experience their real life and work. As a result of that, only the interesting things will be preserved in order to satisfy tourists and make money. The authenticity of the destination might eventually be lost. Furthermore, tourists might, out of ignorance or carelessness, fail to respect the local customs and values; in which can bring irritation to the local communities and in the worst case, cause resentment.

Luckily, having recognized the negative impacts caused by tourism development, the industry has already on the way to mitigate the negative impacts and strive for sustainable tourism. A sustainable approach to tourism means that tourism resources and attractions should be used in a way that neither the natural environment nor the society will be impaired; on the contrary, they should benefit from tourism, both economically and culturally. Some existing practices includes applying energy efficient engines on aircrafts, introducing renewable energy and grey water schemes to conserve resources, educating tourists on respecting the environment and community…and more and more.

The question is, how can we tourists, as the major consumer in the industry, can help to react to the problems? Many industrial actions would be useless if we refuse to change our behaviours accordingly. Developing sustainable tourism needs our cooperation, even the smallest deeds matter!!

So, here are some practical tips to being a responsible traveller.

  • Don’t litter, try to take the rubbish with you until you can find a bin. Help to preserve the lovely sceneries for other people.
  • Try to avoid excessive use of plastic bottles and plastic bags by bringing your own reusable water bottle and shopping bag. (Not all the countries have disposal/ recycling system for plastics).
  • Reduce energy consumption. Turn off unused lights and electrical appliances.
  • Conserve water by taking shorter showers. When you are enjoying your long shower; there are people in the same area have limited access to fresh water.
  • Always ask before taking photos of someone. Respect when they say no.
  • Respect cultural difference. You might experience thing that is out of expectation, but that’s the real culture, embrace it and enjoy it.
  • Dress respectively. Some countries are relatively conservative that shoulders and knees are expected to be covered up.
  • Don’t purchase products that are made of endangered species.
  • Buy locally and eat locally. It is the best way to enjoy the local culture, and your spending could help to feed the whole family. Purchasing locally can also help reduce the carbon emission caused by transportation.
  • Before you go, take some times to check out your holiday providers (hotel, travel agent, tour operator) – support those who support sustainable travels.

“The movement for responsible tourism is gathering pace – we can make tourism a better experience for hosts and guests”

 

 

Planting trees for the future generation

You would not think that there is a problem with trees or forests in a country where 2/3 of the land is considered to be forest.  The situation is not black and white when money is tight and most people live out of agriculture and the heating is generally done by wood or charcoal. For most people agriculture  might be only way getting at least some money and farming wifotor_WP_20150708_10_01_06_Proll also provide nutrition for farmer’s family.

When it comes to heating, charcoal is the cheapest way and in many cases the only way to get heat. It is also the traditional way of cooking. Mamas don’t know other ways. Gas is expensive and some areas don’t have any power lines and where they do, there are constant power cuts to make usage of electric stoves unreliable.

With education, people understand that in a long run it will be destructive to the environment and makes desertification possible. Desertification means that land is no longer good for farming or it is hard to grow anything. It will also make grazing harder for animals. Planting trees in residential areas such as Madale, trees reduce the amount of dust, prevents erosion, tie up carbon dioxide from air and also one day provide food.

Amy, one of our volunteers helped John to plant trees at Tumaini nursery school’s yard in Madale village. Planting consisted variety of trees for example passion fruit, mangofotor_(22) and Moringa. First thing was to decide where to plant the trees.  You might think it is easy, because there is lot of free land, but it is not so. Not any piece of land is suitable. Firstly you need to consider what kind of soil there is and is it possible to dig a hole for the trees. Secondly you check that water does not just run through and is there any shade for the young trees.  Different trees have different kind of needs; Mango tree needs lot of space to grow, passion fruit is usually plant needs support to wine itself on another tree and not in direct sunlight and Moringa is quite easygoing and demands little water.

Hopefully the teachers and children will remember to give some water for the trees during the dry season, so that  later they can enjoy the fruits and shade provided by the trees.  By: Tia Maria

kuva5 kuva3

Art in Tanzania starts a dry toilets project with the help of volunteers

By David Kiarie
Dar es salaam (Originally Published on: Sep 26, 2013)

As the world marks the World Toilet Day today, November 19, many families in the world still do not have access to sanitation facilities.

According to UNICEF, 1.1 billion people around the world defecate in the open, contaminating their environments and water sources besides spreading diseases like diarrhea, which kills 2,000 children less than 5 years old every day.

In Tanzania, only 10 per cent of her people have access to improved sanitation. Over 40 million of citizens in the Eastern Africa country do not have to improved sanitation.

6.5 million people in the country defecate in the open according to Unicef, causing illnesses related to poor hygiene that could have been avoided, and which costs the government millions of money that could otherwise be used for development.

Besides this high cost of treatment, the country is robbed of many working hours as sick workers nurse their ailments in health facilities or at home.

The country is among 12 nations globally that are worst off on sanitation. It is also classified among the 11 countries worst off on access to improved water sources in the world with 21 million of her citizens lacking access to improved water supply. 53 per cent of the population has access to improved water supply.

Learning institutions have not been spared either with the national average number of students per latrine being 56.

598351_10151100231971930_978032409_n-300x19984 per cent of schools lack a functioning hand-washing facility while 38 per cent of the schools lack safe drinking water supply.

A survey by Unicef indicates that 99 per cent of the schools do not provide a bar soap for pupils to use for washing hands after visiting the toilet.

96 per cent of schools have no sanitary facilities suitable or accessible to children with disabilities.

It is estimated that a total of US $0.47 billion is required to fund provisions for water, sanitation and hygiene to approximately 18,000 schools.

WASH needs per school stands at US $25,000 which totals to US $3.2 million per district. The overall WASH needs is US $427.8 million.

Four children under five years die of diarrhea in Tanzania every hour and the government spends 70 per cent of the health budget to treat water related diseases.

The inaction cost for sanitation is estimated at US $200 million per annum, which is one per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The Tanzania Unicef chief WASH officer Omar Hattab while speaking to journalists during a media training on water, sanitation and hygiene in Dar es Salaam called for public sensitization on the subject saying this was a sure way of averting the many waterborne diseases that people contract due to poor sanitation.

A recent media tour to a local primary school at Vingunguti slums of Ilala district in Dar es Salaam revealed that pupils in the poor urban areas were hard hit.

At Mtakuja primary school, which has a population of over 3,500 pupils, only 47 latrines were available with girls using 27 of them. This means 74 pupils use one latrine.

The school head Godrick Rutayungururwa says the institution requires at least 100 latrines for boys and 121 for girls to ensure proper sanitation and reduce wasting of time by the pupils whenever they want to answer calls of nature.

Art In Tanzania, a non-governmental organization, has introduced a dry toilets project where modern sanitation facilities that require no water will be built in homes and institutions with unreliable or no water supply.

Proponents of this project say the facility is a better option to many people in the world with many countries still facing water shortage problems.

This will see users of the dry toilets avoid water bills and therefore use the money they would have spent on water to flash toilets put to other use.

The cost required for water bournbe sanitation is prohibitive in most parts of the world.

According to ECOSAN, a waterless toilet system website, 374559_10151100281686930_878916179_n-199x300the regular operating and maintenance costs of sanitation systems such as bucket latrines, septic tanks, chemical and waterbourne toilets are very high and could be avoided with the use of the dry toilet facilities.

Ecosan also says dry toilet system is affordable, completely closed, has no sewerage pipe network and does not require a sewage treatment plant.

‘It has conclusively been proven that nitrate loaded effluent from pit latrines is directly responsible for widespread contamination of valuable groundwater resources,’ the site says in part.

They further say there is no obnoxious odours and the toilets can be installed both indoors and outdoors.

One of the beneficiaries of the dry toilet project by Art In Tanzania, Shadrack Mkungu says the facility is better compared to pit latrines that most people use at his Mapinga village in Bagamoyo.

“This is a modern toilet and people are visiting me frequently to see the facility. They wish they had such a facility at their homes,” Mkungu says.

The father of four also says the facility is safe enough to be used by children since they cannot fall as it happens with pit latrines.

“I had not seen or used this kind of a toilet before and I recommend that this project be replicated in other part of the district and the country at large,” he says.

The toilet was constructed and installed by two Finish students Lotta partanen and Juha Ojala who are on internship at Art In Tanzania.

The environmental technology students say the dry toilet technology could help avert many water borne disease if replicated in many parts of Tanzania where water is scarce.

In order to achieve millennium development goals, the country requires an additional US $100 million to fund sanitation according to UNICEF

Discovering bird watching opportunity in Tanzania

By Marjut Valtanen (Originally published Jul 30, 2013)

crowned hornbil1Art in Tanzania will soon offer a nice bird watching trip to a protected area of Ruvu forest reserve near Dar es Salaam. The reserve is a 35 000 hectares mosaic of coastal vegetation including open dry forest, closed dry forest, thicket, swamp, woodland and grassland. Only 10 000 ha of the reserve can be considered a forest and most of its riparian forest in the South.

The Ruvu forest is under constant pressure from the illegal production of charcoal to supply markets in Dar es Salaam which lies 45 kilometers to the North-east of the reserve. Luckily conservation efforts have already been started.

Currently the Ruvu Fuelwood Pilot Project, a project of the Forestry and Beekeeping Division is responsible for the management of the reserve and the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TGCG) has been promoting joint forest management at Ruvu South since 2000. The project has seen establishment of a tree nursery and planting program to recover part of the degraded forest.butterfly

Ruvu forest reserve is part of the larger area of Kisaware district coastal forests Important Bird Area (IBA) and one of the most important coastal forests of Tanzania. According to Bird Life International, in Tanzania, coastal forest patches that are probably ‘stepping stones’ during migration are under heavy pressure and becoming increasingly fragmented.

There are several species as criteria for the status of the IBA. Of these two are endangered species; Sokoke Pipit (Anthus sokokensis) and Spotted Ground-thrush (Zoothera guttata). Additionally there are two species that are listed as near threatened; East Coast Akalat (Sheppardia gunningi) and Southern Banded Snake-eagle (Circaetus fasciolatus).

One of the recommended conservation efforts is ecotourism related to these species and bird watching tours are a perfect match to this recommendation.

“On our discovery tour to the reserve, we were walking in the Northern part of tall grassland and thickets. There are comfortable walking paths and you have nice views over small valleys and fields. In the beginning of the walk, we could hear a call of a coucal, but the bird itself is hiding in the bushes. Several yellow bishops (Euplectes capensis crassirostris) and Common bulbuls (Pycnonotus barbatus) fly around. Then we spot a Broad-billed roller (Eurystomus glaucurus) sitting quietly among tree branches. My favorite sightings during our walk are four Crowned hornbills (Tockus alboterminatus) and a Striped Kingfisher (Halcyon c. chelicuti).”

Bird Watching 4Besides being important area for birds, Ruvu forest reserve is also home to four Eastern Arc / Coastal Forest endemic vertebrate species and two species endemic to the coastal forests. There are also 33 species of plants within the reserve which are endemic to the Swahilian Regional Centre of Endemism. If you are really lucky, you may spot African bush elephants (Loxodonta Africana), listed as vulnerable in the International Union for Conservation of Nature IUCN red list, which are frequenting the reserve and migrating between here and Northern Selous, another popular game reserve in Tanzania.

As Ruvu forest reserve is so close to Dar es Salaam, Art in Tanzania intends to offer bird watching tours and support conservation efforts in this area. “I truly enjoyed our couple of hour’s trip away from the bustling city into this quiet reserve and hope to visit the Southern part of the reserve soon to see which bird species can be spotted there.”

———————-
Marjut Valtanen
Art in Tanzania
Team Leader
Conservation and Fair Trade
+255 752 207 873
skype: marvalta

At Art In Tanzania celebrates a conservation group from Moshi as the world marks international forest day

By David Kiarie (Originally published Jun 27, 2013)

The world is marking the international forest day today and will be observing the world water day tomorrow.

At Art In Tanzania, we would like to celebrate a group of young volunteers from Moshi town in Kilimanjaro region who for the last more than one decade have been involved in conservation of a key water catchment area.
dsc05012KIVIWAMA which is an acronym of Kikundi cha Vijana Wa Mazingira was established in 1999 and was born out of the desire of about 15 founder members to conserve the environment.

According to the group’s secretary general Samuel Mochiwa, the youths could not just sit and watch the Njoro Juu water catchment area continue degrading.

‘’We had to do something to protect this area which is a source of water for hundreds of residents living in five villages namely mabogini, Chekereni, Bogini, Kwa Zara and Rau River,’’ Mochiwa said.

The group established a tree nursery and have been planting over 100 species of both indigenous and exotic trees.

These trees the group’s spokesman said are sold to residents at a low price while others are donated to local public institutions like schools.
The group also processes papers using tree barks which are sold to local artists for drawing. Others are sold at specific outlets within Moshi town while others are sent to volunteers who help to market them abroad.

‘’We for example sell our art papers, which go with the brand name Kili Paper, at a shop in United Kingdom through one of our friends who we met during a visit to Tanzania several years ago,’’ Mochiwa said.

The group, whose current membership stands at 10, also makes compost manure and does bee keeping.

Volunteers and interns from Art In Tanzania have been supporting the group in its daily work. ‘’They help in sowing seeds, watering tree nurseries, transplanting and even making the Kili Paper. We are glad for the assistance,’’ Mochiwa said.

As the world marks these two important days of forest and water, our call to all is to conserve the environment, our forests and water sources and bodies.