Annual revenue from local tourism activities in Babati District, Manyara Region has increased over 100 percent in less than a decade, the management of Burunge Community Wildlife Management Area (WMA) has reported.
Speaking to this paper in an interview recently in Babati, the community’s chairperson, Ramadhani Ismail, offered the following figures:
In the year 2006/07 about 37m/- was collected compared to 435m/- collected during the year 2011/12, just seven years later.
The chairperson attributed the exponential growth to aid from the US and was not hesitant to express his gratitude to the superpower that is annually injecting huge sums into the Tanzanian development agenda.
“…we thank the US government for their investment in tourism which enabled us to collect such amount of money…”
Thanks to the US investment, capacity building has improved and equipped local leaders and the community as well with better management skills of the scarce and limited resources.
Support to the Burunge WMA has been channeled through African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) for capacity building and also by the WWF for infrastructure development.
With US and WWF help, infrastructure development was funded under a Cash for work programme which managed to improve roads, village game scouts post, set up an entry gate for regular monitoring and also put up a visitor’s center.
Through program, the US government invested approximately USD 8m which saw 12,000 people employed and over 60,000 enjoy increased economic benefits.
Ismail said the revenue accrued from WMA activities has been openly presented at village assemblies and relevant community meetings to ensure transparency.
The revenue is then equally distributed to the villages to support development projects including the construction of new classes, clinics and teacher houses in the education sector and dispensaries and other facilities in the medical sector.
According to the US embassy in Tanzania, through WMA approach local communities are motivated to participate in conservation based activities by the revenue generated from eco friendly tourism enterprises.
Burunge WMA lies between Tarangire and Lake Manyara national park and is a wildlife protected area because of its role as a wildlife corridor straddling the semi-arid region between the Maasai plains and Lake Manyara.
Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) were introduced by the government of Tanzania in line with the National policy for engaging communities into wildlife management initiatives. It states that rural communities and private land holders are to manage wildlife in the vicinity of their lands for their own benefit. As such, full mandate for wildlife management in WMAs was handed over to the villagers.