Under the Carbon Project being supervised by Carbon Tanzania Limited, thousands of Yaeda Valley virgin forests which are inhabited by the Hadzabe tribesmen, are protected which in turn earns the villagers money from corporations whose activities pollute the environment.
Yaeda Chini’s Ward Executive Officer, Paulo Timotheo said under the project, over 5,900 villagers are benefiting directly through cash payments for those working with Carbon Tanzania while everybody gets access to better social services.
“Since the villagers are the main forest conserver, they receive revenue earned from the Carbon Project every six months which they use to invest in basic community services such as health care, education and food security,” said Timotheo.
Yaeda Chini ward in Mbulu district covers three villages of Mongo wa Mono, Yaeda Chini and Domanga. The WEO pointed out that hundreds of the district’s young men and women also earn salaries as employees of the project who include security guards patrolling the forest and carbon verifiers.
“For instance we spent 10m/- from our first payment to build a Police station while 17m/- which we earned in November 2018, was used to build two classrooms for our primary school here at Yaeda which had only six classes built during Mwalimu Julius Nyerere’s era,” noted the Ward Executive Officer.
He said part of the carbon payments have also been used to start a medical health fund covering all villagers who get free treatment once they get sick at Haydon Hospital which is two hours’ drive from the village. It includes an ambulance ride for the most serious patients.
Apart from building classrooms and generating jobs, the project has also assisted children of hunter gatherers get to school by paying for all their bills.
One of such lucky students is 17 year old, Rachel Athuman who lives in a remote village of Mongo wa Mono, 300 kilometers from Arusha city, in Mbulu district.
Although she comes from a poor family which sometimes has only one meal per day, Athuman is now a student at Mangola Secondary School, which is a public boarding facility in Karatu district.
She is happy and focused on her education because although the school is in another district, which is a two hour driving journey, she is in boarding thanks to payments made by the project.
“I am thankful to the carbon project which has enabled me to concentrate on my studies knowing that all my school bills are being taking care of,” Athuman said while extending a wide smile.
Under the Carbon Revenue Education Fund which Carbon Tanzania set up, 20 students from low income bracket families are being sponsored to secondary school of which two of them have been selected to join high school while another three are at universities.
The carbon project has not only supported basic social services to Yaeda Chini community and their neighbours but also provide savings to poor families that would otherwise paid for their children’s education and medical care services.
Pili Godo, a villager in Domanga said her family has built a modern house from the salary that she gets as record officer of Carbon Project. “We are now living in a modern house, we can provide basic needs for the family such as food while our two children are sponsored to get education,” Godo said.
Although Godo’s first child is sponsored by another not-for-profit organization, he still gets fare, pocket money and medical expenses covered under the Carbon Project.
The Carbon Project’s Manager, Isack Magombe said they have employed 42 villagers in different positions including game scouts and record officers who earn 80,000/- per month.
“The money we get from selling Verified Carbon Units is used to pay for all these community services, salaries and infrastructure development such as classroom construction,” Magombe said.
Other villages in Yaeda Valley such as Yaeda Kati and Dirim which share the giant forest but are yet to join the project, have not benefitted so far.
Carbon Tanzania Director, Marc Baker said by employing the Land and Forest Act, the company has been working with partners non-governmental organizations and district authorities in Mbulu to help communities develop land use plans but also protect forests to get financial benefits.
“We develop climatic mitigation and adaptation projects that are measured in Verified Carbon Units which represent reduced forest destruction hence sell these VCU’s to companies around the world who wish to balance the effect their company has on the environment and climate,” Baker said.
“Since the big role of protecting the trees is done by the community we pay them,” added Baker.
According to Backer, the project’s main objective is to conserve the environment and mitigate climatic change impacts. He pointed out that the Hadzabe who depend on the environment in order to sustain their hunter gatherer traditional life style, cannot survive in a destroyed environment.
Under the project, deforestation has reduced by 20 times with 187,000 trees protected from being cut annually in Mbulu district.
Despite the benefits accrued from the project, villagers are still complaining that the education fund does not support many students who qualify for university entrance.
“ We would like to see the project also sponsor our students who qualify for university entrance because most of us as parents can’t afford to pay for them,” said one of the parents.
On the other hand, Pili Godo’s husband, Nange Chaka who works at Carbon Tanzania as game scout feels that although his life has been changed by the 80,000/- monthly salary, it remains small to meet acceptable average family needs like his hence the need for a review.