The people and wildlife living across Tanzania’s northern rangelands will benefit from a new project aimed at improving livelihoods, ecosystems, governance and economic growth across the landscape. The project’s vision is an ecologically and economically thriving landscape that supports both people and wildlife, and is resilient to future stress from climate change and human population growth.
The project, “Endangered Ecosystems – Northern Tanzania” (EENT), will be supported by the U.S. government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) over the next five years, and coordinated by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and nine implementing partners. This project stems from an existing collaboration known as the Northern Tanzania Rangeland Initiative (NTRI).
“People, wildlife, ecosystems, economies, health care - these are all connected issues, but they’re often addressed separately,” explains Matt Brown, TNC Africa Conservation Director. “This initiative is changing this. We believe that by taking an integrated approach, and bringing together different skills from a diverse group of people and organizations, we can have a greater impact.”
The EENT project was officially launched Monday, January 25th, at the Tarangire Safari Lodge in a ceremony attended by the U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania Mark Childress, the District Commissioners from Kiteto, Monduli, and Simanjiro, amongst others.
In his remarks Ambassador Mark Childress highlighted the need for local communities to experience economic benefits from tourism generated by wildlife conservation.
Also in attendance were representatives from each of the nine implementing partner organizations, which include: Carbon Tanzania, Honeyguide, Maliasili Initiatives, Oikos, Pathfinder International, Tanzania People & Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Ujamaa Community Resource Team and Wildlife Conservation Society. Each partner brings a different unique skillset and experiences to the project, such as social enterprise development, community-based wildlife monitoring, human-wildlife conflict mitigation, participatory land use planning, and community health care to name a few.
“In my experience, most environment conservation interventions do not include a health component,” explains Dr. Xaverly Benela, the District Medical Officer from Monduli District. “I am glad that there is inclusion of this component in the NTRI-EENT program; for instance, access to family planning can play a vital role for people living around the rangelands like most places in Monduli.”
Tanzania’s northern rangelands stretch across more than six million acres and include some of the world’s most significant wildlife populations and landscapes, such as the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This area contributes significantly to Tanzania’s tourism industry – the source of more than 13% of the country’s GDP – as well as supports the livelihoods of the many pastoralist communities living on and managing the land. Today, the historical balance and co-existence between wildlife and pastoralists is shifting as population growth, changing social values and structures, and climate change impacts degrade rangelands and cause increased pressures through resource scarcity and conflict.
For the northern rangelands to maintain and increase their ecological and economic values based on wildlife, tourism and pastoralism, it is critical to address current trends towards fragmentation and degradation. This project aims to do just that, using four key strategies to build a more resilient northern Tanzania – where people, wildlife and ecosystems are healthier; women and youth are empowered; economic growth is inclusive and sustained; and democratic governance is improved and effective.
With USAID funding, the EENT project will target priority areas within the Tarangire/Maasai Steppe ecosystem, which comprises the key stretch of rangelands connecting Serengeti to the west with the Amboseli ecosystem to the east.
This geography is consistent with USAID’s priority areas and the objective of safeguarding the primary routes that wildlife and livestock traverse between wet and dry season grazing grounds. EENT will be implemented across three districts – Simanjiro, Monduli, and Kiteto District.