31 villages stay, 27 axed in Ruaha park

09May 2022
The Guardian
31 villages stay, 27 axed in Ruaha park

​​​​​​​THE government has endorsed 31 out of 58 villages inside the Ruaha National Park to remain in place, with villagers being mindful of the environment in conducting economic activities.

Angeline Mabula, the minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements, heading a five–member ministerial committee on settlements within conservation areas, said the committee was continuing to evaluate 27 other villages which are set to be removed.

The cabinet committee continued to assess their environmental impact and if they should to be paid compensation to avoid any further conflicts with the government, the minister noted, underlining that in some areas, environmental destruction has been extensive.

She made these affirmations at the weekend when meeting Ruaha National Park officials and the Mbeya regional defence and security committee, largely affirming that the remaining 27 villages will be removed following laid down procedures.

The committee is examining if the villagers are entitled to compensation, as large numbers of livestock were had caused extensive damage, while the situation similarly caused frequent conflicts between herders and the conservation management in the zone, she declared.

“I’m told there is one area that was required to hold not more than 65,000 livestock, but now it has 260,000 head of cattle,” she stated, noting that the extent of the problem was still being mapped out.

“But with regard to the 31 villages, President Samia has said they should not be touched,” she specified.

To reduce environmental challenges, herders should be educated to abandon traditional herding and adopt modern livestock keeping practices, and farmers should also adopt modern farming practices, she said.

Angelina Masanja, the deputy minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, said conservators have at times fallen to attacks by herders but they were being defended by politicians. Conservators are doing a good job for the nation’s benefit, she emphasised.

Water Minister Jumaa Aweso appealed to the regional leadership to help in the protection of Ruaha River water sources. The Julius Nyerere Hydropower Plant (JNHPP) on the upper reaches of the Rufiji River delta depends on water from Ruaha River, similar to the entire Ruaha ecosystem, she added.

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