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A Right Pastoralist Predicament

News item submitted by Ben Margerison
News item dated 6 Jan 2011

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The Kilombero Valley has been going through some drastic changes in recent years, one of which, recently highlighted in the national press in Tanzania is the influx of pastoralists into the region in the latter half of the last decade. Their immigration from Northern, more arid parts of Tanzania, and subsequent increase in the region has led to much environmental degradation, including the destruction of much woodland and the degradation of much grassland. There has also been great alteration in water availability in the area, and pollution of water bodies due to the contamination caused by pesticides used on livestock belonging to the pastoralists.

Their presence has placed great strain on the indigenous population of the valley, who have highlighted their plight to government bodies on numerous occasions but do not possess the wealth to be able to influence legal proceedings in comparison to the pastoralists. This is a great shame and there is no doubt that a change in the rights of the indigenous population needs to occur with regards to their capability to protect the Kilombero Valley from unsustainable practices. The production of livestock may serve many useful purposes in areas otherwise unsuitable for agricultural development, but in a fertile region such as the Kilombero valley, far more people can be provided for through the production of staple crops.

Recent large mammal surveys in the Namwai forest carried out by Frontier teams have highlighted a crash in the populations of many species in the region in the last three years, with corresponding evidence of a substantial increase in the cattle population. Frontier teams in the Kilombero valley also undertaken much training of local stakeholders in the Ruipa corridor towards the end of 2010, and are carrying on this work into the New Year. The training sessions encouraged village leaders to comment on the health of the Ruipa corridor and why its degradation is occurring at such a rapid rate. The consensus was that the largest factor was ever increasing pastoralism.

 



The enthusiasm of the stakeholders for the conservation of the corridor has been extremely encouraging, but any future success will largely depend upon whether the conflict of interests between pastoralists and local farmers can be resolved in a sustainable way. Hopefully 2011 will bring some positive developments.

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