Building sustainable livelihoods for conservation
Forests in Africa are increasingly facing multiple threats mostly brought about by human activities and the case is no different for Njombe forest in Tanzania. Illegal exploitation of forest resources coupled with poor agricultural and land use practices have made this rich biodiversity hub an area of focus for conservation organisations. One such organisation is SATAFO (Save Tanzania Forests), a CEPF grantee that works hand in hand with the local communities in the region to promote sustainable livelihoods for improved conservation of Njombe Forest. Spearheaded by Pendo Niyukuli, a Community Development Officer with the organisation, SATAFO seeks alternative means of livelihood for the locals such as promotion of beekeeping and also conducts biodiversity surveys in the region. By attending TBA trainings which focus on providing capacity development for CEPF grantees, Pendo has managed to improve more on her engagements with the local community and made huge progress in achieving conservation and sustainability in the area.
“After attending the training organised by TBA in Mbeya, Tanzania, I am now using a ground to top level approach when engaging with the local community and especially the village elders which has greatly facilitated information sharing. I have requested for monthly reports from Village Environmental Committees, which has made me more aware of what is going on at the ground level and this makes it easy for me to identify things that need improvement. Information on the progress of the project is sent to the district environment office, making them more aware of activities in place.
I have also learnt a lot on equal distribution of benefits and engaged the community and its leaders on this so as to get their insight on how best to share the resources. Frequent monitoring of activities in the forest (particularly where bee keeping is conducted) is very important and the community members have been tasked with this so as to involve them more and create awareness on conservation. This is what enabled us to see the need for placing fire-breaks in the forest which has led to a huge decrease in forest fires. Monitoring and evaluation was one key topic learnt that has been very helpful to me. I am now able to identify problems and potential solutions which is really important because without the proper follow-up, community members may place bee-hives in the wrong places.
Distribution of beehives in Mambegu village
One of the biggest achievements of the projects has been the increasing awareness on forest conservation among the locals. Incidences such as Forest fire outbreaks have greatly reduced since Oct 2015 and deforestation is taking a downward shift which shows in the increasing natural forest cover. The local leaders have also been trained and now possess the proper management and communication skills which enable them to communicate better with the community members. This has greatly increased their capacity as leaders. We have also managed to distribute 80 beehives to 40 households which was our initial target and made sure that the hives are well monitored. The village environmental committee has taken up this initiative and is willing to ensure continued protection of the forest.
The trainings have made it possible for me to meet and network with other CEPF grantees implementing projects similar to mine which has been very useful in providing insight especially on how to solve challenges. The network formed is a great platform for us to share ideas and improve on our projects.”
Pendo Niyukuli, Community Development Officer, SATAFO