The success of any environmental conservation project is directly pegged on its design and delivery model. When the Eastern Arc Mountains Conservation Endowment Fund (EAMCEF) received a grant from the government of Norway to implement a five-year project (2011-2016) in Tanzania, it focused at realising effective conservation and sustainable outcomes for Eastern Arc Mountains (EAMs) ecosystem and improved social welfare of the adjacent communities.
EAMCEF aligned the 2011 – 2016 forest conservation initiative to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which took effect on June 1st 2011, through grant support to 204 projects, and this contributed significantly to national efforts in the attainment of the SDGs. In the innovative implementation model, EAMCEF issued and managed sub-grants to district authorities in 11 priority districts and nine forest target sites within the EAMs ecosystem. These entailed projects in protected areas, eight Nature Forest Reserves, and one National Park. Others included community-based conservation and development projects (CBCD) aimed at improving rural livelihoods and social welfare of forest adjacent communities through implementation of 146 projects. Other support was directed to applied biodiversity and climate change researches.
How EAMCEF conservation model innovatively links to SDGs
The five-year project (2011-2016) implemented by EAMCEF produced convincing results and impacts that justified for continued support into phase two of the project implementation, 2016-2019. Potential linkages realised contributions to attainment of SDG, 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 13 and 15 targets within the national context.
Goal 1 – No Poverty
SDG goal 1 aims at eradicating extreme poverty for all people everywhere by 2030, and to reduce at least half of the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions. It also seeks to ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, ownership and control over land, natural resources and appropriate new technologies.
EAMCEF sought to improve the lives of the surrounding communities through support to alternative income generating activities (IGAs). This has realised increased household income, improved quality of life, and doubled food production, thereby reducing poverty.
Also, income generated from casual labour for undertaking forest management operations has contributed to increased household incomes. The project promoted equal participation of men and women of all ages. Alongside land use planning activities the project facilitated issuance of Certificate of Customary Rights of Occupancy (CCROs) to over 1650 villagers – thereby strengthening and securing bundles of rights to land and land resources.
Goal 2 – Zero Hunger
SDG goal 2 aims at bringing an end to hunger and to ensure access to food by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round by 2030. It also seeks to double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, through secure and equal access to non-farm employment. By 2030, this target aims at ensuring sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices.
EAMCEF has through conservation agriculture realised increased crop production due to water and soil conservation measures, increasing food supply. Improved seeds, spice farming, sunflower and soya beans, fish farming and tree planting have increased incomes for small-scale food producers. The introduction of local chicken and dairy livestock keeping has improved the quality of diet. Participation of local communities in ecotourism activities and protected areas management – boundary clearing, surveillances, nature trails maintenance, tree planting and rehabilitation of forest degraded areas – are important sources of seasonal income to surrounding communities.
Introduction of conservation agriculture techniques has been a game-changer for local communities living in highlands and steep slopes of Muheza District, Morogoro Municipality and Morogoro District.
The project trained 329 villagers (139 women and 190 men) on soil and water conservation techniques, putting up to 863 Ha of land under conservation agriculture, with production increase of up to three times.
Goal 5 – Gender Equality
SDG goal 5 aims at bringing to an end all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere. It also ensures women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels and decision-making in political, economic and public life.
The project ensured an overall engagement of 48 per cent of women including girls, and supported 100 per cent women groups in stove construction, spice tree farming and mushroom farming. The project also supported the disabled and people living with HIV/Aids in Mufindi and Kilombero Districts, while promoting participation and benefit sharing in project implementation by men, women, girls and vulnerable groups.
Goal 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation
By 2030, this SDG goal aims at achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all and to protect and restore water-related ecosystems including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes.
The EAMs are the catchment forests for most rivers serving the downstream users supporting domestic and industrial supply of water for up to 25 per cent of Tanzania’s population in various towns and localities of Iringa, Morogoro, Tanga, Kilimanjaro, Dodoma, Coast and Dar es Salaaam. The catchment also supports major rivers such as Great Ruaha, Kihansi, Pangani, Hale, Wami, Kilombero, Rufiji and Ruvu rivers.
Goal 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy
By 2030, this SDG goal aims at ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services, to increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, and to double the global rate of improvement in efficient energy. It also seeks to expand infrastructure and upgrade technology of supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries by 2030.
The projects by EAMCEF supported introduction of biogas technology for domestic cook stoves – saving up to 50 per cent amount of firewood sourced from neighbouring forests. The project trained 97 villagers and 25 masons in Kilolo District, Iringa region and supported installation of 12 biogas plants in selected households.
The project introduced energy efficient stoves, biogas technology, and trained 1531 local artisans on construction of energy efficient stoves. Up to 14,016 households are now using such stoves – reducing by more than 50 per cent the amount of firewood, saving forests.
Indirectly, the conservation of the forests ensures continuous availability of water and thereby renewable electricity. About 90% of Tanzania’s hydro-electricity is produced at major hydro-power stations such as Kidatu, Mtera, Kihansi, Nyumba ya Mungu, Pangani and Hale that rely through water originating from the EAMs. The proposed Mwalimu Nyerere Hydro-Power Station at Stigler’s Gorge will also greatly rely on water from the EAMs. This energy is renewable and supports efforts to combat climate change and therefore needs to be sustained.
Goal 13 – Climatic Change
SDG goal 13 aims at improving education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning by 2030. Awareness activities within the EAMCEF projects involve conservation education, including aspects of climatic change adaptation through climate-compatible activities such as conservation agriculture and tree planting. EAMCEF supported forest climatic-change researches on carbon storage potentials of the forest, and indicators of climatic change.
Goal 15 – Life on Land
By 2030, this SDG goal aims at ensuring the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland water ecosystems and their services. It also seeks to promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and sustainably increase afforestation and reforestation globally.
Goal 15 is basically the heart of EAMCEF project. The goal of the project being ‘enhanced conservation of the forests within the proposed EAMs World Heritage Site in Tanzania’ entails a set of actions linked to SDGs Target 15.1, 15.2, 15.4, 15.5,15.6, and 15.7. The project has managed to support the preparation of forest management plans, regularly maintain forest boundaries of up to 1,500 KM and enhance forest cover through replanting of degraded areas, fire controls and rehabilitation of mining areas illegally dug in the forests. It has also strengthened forest patrols and reduced forest encroachment for farming, hunting, and mining activities.
The benefits arising from tourism and ecotourism activities, and from sales of confiscated products and equipment are shared to surrounding communities. Up to TZS. 450,000,000.00 were shared with local communities. The project has provided short term and paid employment opportunities to local communities through joint patrols. There have been intensive forest patrols to fight against illegal activities, including filing of cases in court.