Mazingira Bora Karatu


Name ID 2271

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Arusha Times
Extract Author: Richard Kipuyo
Page Number: 495
Extract Date: 17 Nov 2007

Conservationists take action to ensure Lake Manyara�s survival

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), is funding an agro-forestry program in Karatu that will among other things ensure Lake Manyara and its environs survival.

The programme implemented by Karatu district under the banner Mazingira Bora Karatu (MBK) is aimed at reducing environmental degradation through tree planting and contour farming practices on the Karatu highlands.

It focuses on improving vegetation cover along river banks and encourages locals to plant trees as a sustainable source of fuel wood as well as beekeeping projects that will help improve their livelihoods.

The MBK program is facilitated by AWF under its five- year USAID-funded project launched two years ago entitled; "Investing in livelihoods through resource management in Manyara and Tarangire" or in short ILRAMAT.

The programme which is part of an overall national strategy objective of the USAID and Tanzania Government on natural resources management and economic growth by conserving bio-diversity through livelihoods driven approaches.

Beside the MBK programme, according to it�s officials, to-date ILRAMAT has spent over US Dollars 700,000 to address issues of conservation of wildlife corridors in Kwakuchinja area at the border of Monduli and Babati districts, as well as rangeland conservation in wildlife dispersal areas of Manyara ranch and Simanjiro plains.

Karatu hills lay on the upper escarpment where many rivers that drain into the Lake Manyara National Park pass through and unchecked soil erosion is threatening the existence of the lake and the park itself.

Lake Manyara which is the lifeline of Lake Manyara National Park has been experiencing occasional declining levels and potential threats of drying up. This has been attributed to siltation from soil erosion caused by poor farming practices on Karatu highlands.

Lake Manyara National Park receives over 140,000 tourists annually who inject into the park an income of over US Dollars 3 million annually.

On the community side, a lot of income generating activities around Mto-wa-Mbu and Karatu area also have a bearing on the existence of Lake Manyara National Park.. Many local residents have developed curio shops and tourist products that help them improve their livelihoods. The park commits about 10 per cent of its income to support small community initiative programs (SCIP) including construction of schools, water-systems, health centres and village offices.

Thus the agro-forestry program on the Karatu hills has multiple benefits including: improving the water retention and the soils on the highlands, reduction of soil erosion, improved agricultural productivity, beekeeping and also filtering water and reduce siltation of downward streams leading to Lake Manyara.

MBK has been working in the area for 10 years. Previous USAID assistance helped them to build capacity in terms of human resources to carry out agro-forestry tasks. This time around, the program aims to re-launch and rejuvenate the activities started 10 years ago and give momentum for an expansion of the program throughout Karatu highlands� villages and popularize it among all the communities.

Extract ID: 5464