Conserving the Malagarasi River System: efforts by Nyakitonto Youth for Development Tanzania
Nyakitonto Youth for Development Tanzania (NYDT) is a youth led organisation in Kigoma region of Tanzania. It empowers young people to become self-reliant by providing entrepreneurial skills; income generating activities like bee keeping and fish rearing; business development; and community friendly loans revolving fund. Ramadhan Joel coordinates the environmental conservation programmes of NYDT to ensure that development projects in the region do not negatively affect biodiversity, especially the threatened species in the Malagarasi river system and Lake Tanganyika fresh water systems.
NYDT has recently completed their CEPF funded project and has been working in collaboration with Governance Links Tanzania, a local conservation organisation in Tanzania. Through the collaboration, they have established multi-stakeholder partnerships among local authorities, community conservation groups, private sector entities and the media at the Malagarasi River System Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) in Tanzania. This is in order to build their capacities to prepare, implement and monitor World Bank safeguard policies and procedures on natural habitats. As part of the KBA, Igamba Falls is reported to be highly threatened by a planned hydro-power scheme.
After attending one of the TBA led training programmes held in Mbeya, Tanzania in 2015, Joel had a lot to say on the skills and knowledge that he acquired which he testifies to have played a key role in the effective implementation of his project.
“During and after the training, I was able to review the project baseline and realised that we had a few issues on evaluation, monitoring and follow-up. Prior to the training we had set too many targets, which would have proven difficult to achieve but I learnt on the importance of coming up with few but specific targets that would enable our project to achieve more. We therefore revised our plan and focused more on two main issues; conservation and improving livelihoods. After the training, we managed to write eight proposals to donors and we have a target of having 10 proposals sent by July 2016. With the help of the CEPF fund, we were able to advocate against salt mining which was occurring in the Malagarasi River and consequently the mining Co. was ordered to conduct an E.I.A by August, 2016.
Together with the Local Government Authority, we have conducted two meetings in Kasulu and Kibondo (where R. Malagarasi passes) with the goal of turning the river system into a protected area. In addition, we have also written a letter to the area member of parliament with a proposition for the same. The private sectors in the region, specifically the region’s sugarcane processing plant have also been engaged on the importance of conservation and has been made aware on the need to conduct an E.I.A which is a requirement. We have also advocated for the same to happen in all refugee camps in the area.
As a result of the training, I was able to meet more conservation managers conducting various environmental projects in the EAM hotspot and this really improved our engagement in the network. We are now members of several bodies such as Kigoma Union Network, EBAFOSA, and Tanzania East Africa Network among others.
One of our main achievements is that we are now able to engage in several conservation initiatives and are identified as the conservation trainers and representatives for the local community. As a result of raising awareness on the importance of conducting an EIA, more than 100 participants are now aware of its value.To ensure sustainability of the project, we enlisted the help of our partnerships and conducted successful site visits to threatened areas of R. Malagarasi. Additionally, the manager of the salt mining industry in the area is now converting from the use of firewood as a source of energy to solar energy. We are glad that with the help from affiliated media, a documentary on our project (in Swahili) is out and we can now share our knowledge with the rest of the conservation community.
Ramadhan Joel, Coordinator, Nyakitonto Youth for Development Tanzania (NYDT)