Communities participate in protecting Lake Tanganyika
Buhoro village, Kasulu District in Kigoma Region is among of the heavily degraded upstream villages which pour sediments to Lake Tanganyika through Ruchugi River which has its source from this village. During the rainy season (November to May), one may clearly observe brown water from River Ruchugi which is a clear indication of high degradation from upstream to the source of the river which at the end affect Lake Tanganyika and its biodiversity.
Majority of people in this village are livestock keepers and others are small scale farmers. After a long time of common environmental degradation practices like deforestation, forest fires, livestock keeping, rampant erosion upstream caused a big gully to develop at the village. Within a short period of time the gully increased in width and length.
''We clearly observed the impacts of environmental degradation in our village. The developed gully was about to damage our road connection, we used to have wild fruits but they all disappeared, water became very scarce by 70% while the sources are within the village. Generally it was becoming a threat to us’’. Explained Mr Fredrick Nyamwombo, village chairman.
- UNDP/GEF project on partnership intervention for the implementation of the Strategic Action Programme for Lake Tanganyika is regional programme comprises five components being implemented by governments of Tanzania, Burundi, Zambia and DRC.
- Project implementers are Lake Tanganyika Authority (LTA), The four governments, international & national stakeholders.
Since 2008 UNDP, with funding from the Global Environmental Facility(GEF), has been working closely with Kasulu District Council in different activities aiming at reducing sedimentation through big rivers pouring its waters into Lake Tanganyika through helping communities to adopt more sustainable farming practices, supporting awareness raising meetings to the villagers especially livestock keepers on good practices for environmental conservation to all levels, supporting tree planting and developing a comprehensive plan for community ownership of project activities in the future.
For the project to achieve its goal they collaborated with districts experts, village environmental groups, and communities so as to combine efforts leading to reduce the gully development and sediments flowing through big rivers to Lake Tanganyika. Buhoro Village Council (25 members), religious members (4), Environmental groups (3), Community based organizations (CBOs) and environmentally motivated individuals were involved to decide and agree on appropriate methods for environmental challenges in the village. Members agreed to work hand in hand in planting trees and protecting the surrounding environment.
However a nursery of about 80,000 tree seedlings was raised at Titye Village, of which about 23,000 tree seedlings where transferred to Msambara Village to join efforts on increasing tree cover upstream.
As a result of the interventions different trees species focusing on their potentiality (eg syzigium specie, bambusa maboo,croton specis, draughts resistant grases and senna seamea) were planted in the area. Tree seedlings were planted less than or equal to two meters to enable quick ground cover.
Due to community involvement, Villagers are now very responsible in protecting the area. Community members agreed to work hand in hand in tree planting and protecting the surrounding environment. Livestock keepers were commanded to keep away their animals from the identified demarcated area and they have agreed.
‘'Our hope is now coming back. Areas that were previously damaged by erosion are now being allowed to regenerate naturally. We planted trees in the bare land inside and around the hole and now the area has started to become green. We appreciate the project for this initiatives and we are ready to collaborate in protecting our environment’’. Said one of the villagers.
The project empowered communities to practice sustainable and biodiversity friendly management of natural resources by running forest management and entrepreneurship training for user groups and providing grants to start income generating activities.
The project focused at piloting intervention that will contribute to the reduction of sediment flows into Lake Tanganyika from the pilot villages through integrated catchment management, thereby improving lake habitats.