Lindi District leaders urged to resolve land conflicts

15Jun 2016
Gerald Kitabu
The Guardian
Lindi District leaders urged to resolve land conflicts

Lindi Regional Commissioner Godfrey Zambi has issued a two-month ultimatum to district commissioners of Kilwa, Liwale and Ruangwa Districts to resolve the ongoing land conflicts between Nanjirinji and Merui Villages.

Lindi Regional Commissioner, Godfrey Zambi (r) receives the prestigious international Whitely Award 2016 from Makala Jasper at the reception of the Award at Lindi Regional Offices.

Villagers of the Nanjirinji Village in Kilwa and Merui Village in Liwale Districts for along time have been quarrelling over ownership of the village land forest reserve called Mbumbila. A land conflict has lasted for more than ten years now.

The regional commissioner issued the directive at a meeting that was organised by the Lindi Regional Office to congratulate the scientist and conservationist Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative (MCDI) Executive Director, Makala Jasper, after scooping the prestigious international Whitely Award 2016.

He said that the district commissioners should work with the executive directors of the three districts and the district council chairmen to make sure that a solution is sought over the land conflict within two-months or else he himself will do the task.

During the meeting, which was also attended by the district commissioners, executive directors, councilors and district council Chairmen and other stakeholders, the regional commissioner applauded MCDI for its initiatives of conserving and managing the coastal forests.

The regional commissioner used the opportunity to call upon other organisations and companies with similar objectives and activities to emulate from MCDI for doing a good work of conserving coastal natural forests which face several threats such as illegal logging and shifting cultivation.

Makala won the prestigious international nature conservation prize worth £35,000 in project funding and it was presented to him by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne at a ceremony held at the Royal Geographical Society, in London recently.

The Award was in honour of his good work in South Eastern Tanzania to empower communities to conserve coastal forests and their wildlife through the sustainable community forest management and sale of timber species.

The regional commissioner said that when Makala arrived from London, he went to show him the Award. “I told him to wait so that I could organise a special reception because the Award deserved a special occasion as it is a very big honour to our Lindi Region and our country as a whole,” he said.

Through that International Award given to Makala, the regional commissioner said that Lindi Region has been recognised and promoted throughout the world through the Whitley International Award 2016.

“We are now recognised, respected within and outside the country because of MCDI activities that have empowered communities in my region to manage community owned forests through the sustainable management,” he said.

He further said that the government has put in place conducive working environment for organisations and companies that are effectively and efficiently involving in sustainable forest conservation and management.

He said that currently the rate of forest and environment degradation was increasing in different places in the region due to shifting cultivation and deforestation practices. Saying the region needed support from villages, districts leaders and other stakeholders such as Non Government Organisations (NGOs).

Explaining how he won, the award, Makala said that it was not an easy task, but it was a long process as it involved many writing project proposal entries to the competition, followed by tight screening.

He later emerged one of the seven finalists who were interviewed by the Award Judging panel in London. After the interview, he then emerged the Winner of the Whitley Award 2016.

“The whole process was not easy. This Award is a result of tireless work being done by my organisation, other key partners like WWF Tanzania and government authorities in Kilwa and other districts,” he said.

He said that his organisation has assisted 35 communities to protect over 2300,000 hectares of forests. The Organisation is Africa’s only Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified programme for community-managed natural forests.

The project for MCDI is situated between two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: The Selous Game Reserve, one of the largest protected areas in Africa, and Kilwa Kisiwani. By linking forest fragments, the project enables seasonal movements of large mammals such as elephants and lions.

Through this initiative, MCDI is giving communities an incentive to conserve this important habitat and the biodiversity within it.

Makala also said the Whitley Award 2016 is donated by WWF UK and is intended to support the Namatewa Village in Kilwa District to secure legal ownership of their village forests and benefits from the forest resources.

He commended the Tanzanian government for putting in place enabling policy frameworks which empower comminutes to own, manage and benefit from their community managed forests.

“To me this award is not only a credit to me but also it is a result of collective efforts of all people who have contributed to MCDI success in one way or another,” he said.