While some carbon offset programmes are about planting trees, the indigenous villagers in northern Tanzania are implementing the same through preservation of natural forests where vulnerable animal species are also being protected. The Yaeda valley in Mbulu district where the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) project is implemented covers 32,000 hectares of the forest.
The Hadza implements the REDD project in partnership with Carbon Tanzania with the support from The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Other partners includes the Dorobo Fund and Ujamaa Community Resource Team (UCRT). It is implemented in three villages namely, Mongo Wa Mono, Domanga and Yeada Chini. Carbon Tanzania also implements similar projects in Kiteto district, Arusha and Tanganyika district in Kigoma region.
Each of the three villages receives approximately 50m/- after every six months. The funds which are directly deposited to the village bank account are being spent on key priority areas including health, education and food. Part of the funds is given to the government at village, ward and district level.
Paul Simon (15), a Form One student at Yaeda Chini secondary school is one of the beneficiaries of the carbon credit funds, he is thankful to Carbon Tanzania for assisting the Hadza people to preserve the environment and earn money which is spent to educate the Hadza children. He admits that with the financial support from the company, a good number of Hadza children are now enrolled to secondary schools.
Simon, whose dream is to become a doctor said: “All my school needs and dormitory cost are covered by funds from carbon offset. I am also benefiting with free medical treatment”.
He added that without funds from Carbon Tanzania, it would have been difficult for her mother to carter for all his school needs since she only raise a small amount of money from her small business.
Regina Safari (20) a Diploma student at Taifa College of Technology said: “Carbon Tanzania has been funding my education from secondary school to date. I am now provided with fees, house rent and a pocket money of 60,000/-”.
Safari suggests for more campaigns to sensitize the Hadza community on the importance of girls’ education since most of the girls are not educated. She also appeals for increment of education budget as the number of students increases each year.
Domanga Village Game Scout Coordinator, Pili Godo said the funds from carbon offset have largely contributed into improvement of Hadza communities’ welfare as well as providing jobs for the youth. She said apart from education, the monies are also spent to pay medical bills at hospital and purchase food (maize) that are equally distributed to all the households. Domanga village’s population is 1,069 as per 2012 national census.
“One of my children is also benefiting with Carbon Tanzania’s education fund. The monies I get from my job as scouts coordinator has helped me to start a small shop”, said Godo adding the villagers are grateful for the REDD project as it has added value to their conservation work because previously they were conserving the environment just for food.
She also raised concerns over small education budget calling for review of funds allocation as the 4m/- set aside for education is too small compared to the number of children. She said that six more children are expected to join secondary education in January next year, thus making a total number of 27 students.
Chairman of the Village Education Board, Ezekiel Salimu backed Mahia insisting on the need to increase the education fund as the Hadza are now changing their mindsets and taking children to school.
He added: “The number of students increases annually, we will have 27 secondary students next year. It is important that we put more money into the education sector to be able to provide school necessities for all the children”.
Bryson Magombe, Yaeda Chini Ward Councillor, said the government is also benefiting with the funds. He said the educational support is provided to children who excel in their national examinations.
According to Magombe the Hadza communities are also benefiting with free medical services at the Haydom Lutheran Hospital—a referral hospital at regional level where the bills are paid by Carbon Tanzania.
“We normally let the villagers decide on how to spend the funds in accordance with their set priorities. Lastly, they purchased 100 bags of maize which were equally distributed to all the households”, said Magombe.
Commenting, Mbulu District Environmental Officer, Kilimba Kingu said his office is responsible for monitoring the project and make sure the land use plans and by-laws are implemented accordingly. He said the Hadza people respects the contract signed with Carbon Tanzania and they don’t cut trees or cultivate on the preserved forest.
Pascal Grayson is a trained forest ranger, he said the patrols are conducted twice a week in order to protect the forest. He requested for authorities in Mbulu district in collaboration with Carbon Tanzania to provide them modern weapons to be able to fight poachers who are frequently invading the area.
Grayson said: “As we walk around the forest, we record all the data with special smart monitoring gadgets…we use traditional weapons hence difficulties in fighting back poachers since they use modern weapons”.
Mbulu District Environmental Officer, Kilimba Kingu admitted that encroachment has been the main challenge that the Hadza community experience in protecting their habitat forest. He said there have been invasion to the preserved natural forest by pastoralists from neighboring villages.
“We normally conduct patrols at the area and destruct houses constructed within the preserved area. We support the efforts and various interventions done by Carbon Tanzania as they help our people to secure money through environment conservation. They also facilitate the sale of carbon offsets to the carbon market”.
Carbon Tanzania empowers communities and local government to secure money from their forest with the support from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) which provides technical support to the company and assist in analyzing forest cover change in the project area by providing satellite images.
Carbon Tanzania CEO, Marc Baker said: “We assist the villagers to turn carbon into money by only not cutting down trees and turning the soil. The Hadza community has also guaranteed carbon buyers not to cut the trees”.