Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Arabs hunt for Masai land in Tanzania and poach Kenya elephants in Maasai Mara.

Maasai anger as they lose land to Arab hunters

This sign in Kiswahili at the meeting in Olorien village on 6 April 2013 says: "We will fight for our land until the end." In a remote corner of northern Tanzania, Boeing 747 planes land on a private airstrip, trucks with United Arab Emirates (UAE) number plates drive across the plains, and anyone with a cell phone receives an unlikely text message:" Dear guest, welcome to UAE."For centuries, the sprawling savannah in the Arusha region of the East African nation was home to the Maasai people, but these days it can feel more like Dubai, one of the states that make up the UAE. That is because this chunk of land in Arusha's Loliondo area near the Serengeti National Park has been leased to an Emirati hunting company called the Ortello Business Corporation (OBC).

Since 1992, OBC has flown in wealthy clients to shoot lions,elephants and leopards, angering nomadic Maasai cattle herders who are blocked from pastures in the hunting grounds.Now, Tanzania' s government wants to give more land to the hunters by establishing a 1,500 sq km (579 sq mile) wildlife corridor exclusively for OBC.The plan would displace about 30,000 people and affect tens of thousands more who graze cattle there in the dry season. The Maasai have erupted in protest, saying their livelihoods will be destroyed.

More than 90% of Loliondo' s Maasai depend on rearing livestock on seasonal grasses there." Without land we cannot live," said Naishirita Tenemeri, a mother of three.Ms Tenemeri raises cows and goats in Loliondo to pay for food and her children' s schooling.The Maasai have a history of losing their land in Tanzania since the British moved them from the Serengeti in 1959.The former coloniser guaranteed future land rights, but post-independence governments further restricted grazing rights and the latest proposal would remove almost 40% of Loliondo' s highland prairie and forested mountains.

Ruling party cards spurned earlier this month, Ms Tenemeri, wrapped in a traditional red-checked blanket known as a shuka, joined 1,000 people, mostly women, under thorny acacia trees at Olorien village to protest at the plans.Some walked for days for the chance to show their anger by publicly giving up their membership cards for Tanzania' s ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM)."

If I have no land then I have no place to deliver my children," said Morkelekei Gume, as she tossed her CCM card to the ground." My son is in secondary school because of the grass from here."If they need my land they can kill me."The women have been so outspoken because they bear the worst of the evictions, left jobless to care for children while the men move to cities, where many find work as security guards.

They have also led the protests since local politicians, who had said they backed the campaign against the wildlife corridor, later refused to resign from the party as they had promised to do.The women's outcry spurred the deputy secretary general of the CCM to trek all the way to Olorien, a collection of huts eight hours by four-wheel-drive from the region's main city of Arusha.CCM officials then denounced the planned corridor, but the ministry of tourism, and by extension Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, stands firm.Mr Kikwete, who will stand down at the next election, in 2015, after two terms in office, has tried for almost a decade to give more land to OBC.

During a 2009 drought, he sent national police to help OBC block herders from a vital water source metres away from the company's current hunting ground.The Maasai say more than half of their cattle died as a result.Isaac Mollel, the executive directive of OBC's Tanzania branch, says people are only blocked from water resources during the July to December hunting season - which coincides with the dry season." If there is hunting going on, it is going to be dangerous if someone comes around and grazes," he said.Royal visitors For John Moina, who exports cattle from Loliondo to Kenya, Mr Kikwete' s message was clear."

The government is saying OBC is better than citizens of Tanzania," he said.But Mr Kikwete' s government can earn more income in Loliondo from tourism through OBC - which has catered for English royalty like Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, and the UAE royal family - than livestock. And Loliondo is ideal for developing tourism. 

It is rich in game with few visitors, and borders the Serengeti, Kenya's Maasai Mara National Park, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.Tourism Minister Khamis Kagasheki defends the evictions, saying the project will promote conservation as the Maasai are exhausting the land."These 1,500 sq km are a crucial breeding area for wildlife, a corridor for the iconic great migration of wildebeest, and a critical water catchment area," he said in a press release. However, academics say the Maasai barely affect wildlife." I would question those who say that the Maasai create more of a threat to wildlife than the hunting OBC is doing," said Benjamin Gardner of the University of Washington, who has studied Maasai land issues for two decades.

The Maasai rarely hunt, and use the corridor' s highlands to avoid wildebeest that give birth in the lowlands and can spread disease to cattle.If Loliondo' s 66,000Maasai plus their livestock are hemmed into only 2,500 sq km, they may overstress land and wildlife." There is no big drought now," said Samwel Nangiria, who heads a group of Maasai non-governmental organisations called NGO Network." But if they get the corridor it is going to affect twice as many people as 2009."Regardle ss, Mr Kagasheki has vigorously defended the government is right to appropriate the land, accusing the Maasai of living in Loliondo illegally and blaming the unrest on foreign-funded groups.

OBC too points the finger at NGOs and says it has invested in the area over the last 20 years, digging five boreholes, building classrooms and a hospital." The people communicating for the Maasai are not the Maasai themselves. They make sure that there is no clear understanding between the investors and the indigenous people of Loliondo," Mr Mollel says. In fact, he says their current five-year concession was supposed to allow them access to the whole of the 4,000 sq km Loliondo area - so the smaller corridor is actually a concession to the Maasai. He also says that, in the government eyes, the Maasai do not own the land, and it will help protect a drought-prone area.

Thirteen civil society groups from across Tanzania said in a statement that the Maasai do have title deeds for the corridor and the government is "going out of its ways to deliberately mislead the public" .Maasai representatives plan to take the government to court over the corridor, but fear this may not lead to a quick resolution of the problem as a case from 2009 remains unheard.

Mr Nangiria believes there has been deliberate administrative blocking of their legal action as it is a constitutional case which requires three judges, but there is only one judge in Arusha and the other judges have yet to be sent for."The government should stop interfering with the judiciary," the civil society groups said in a statement. So the women under the acacia trees may be running out of options." Our government is taking us from our land," said Paulina Leysa to a group of fellow protesters." We are crying to anyone who can help."

Join our network of activists located in East Africa in fighting for Maasai Land Rights.

Patrick Kamotho
East Africa Climate Change Network.
P.O.Box 8668-00200.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Eight steps to climate-proof development in Africa

Climate change must be integrated into the post-2015 agenda, as ignoring it may condemn many Africans to a life of poverty

sea in Africa
Cities and towns in sub-Saharan Africa face increasing risks from water scarcity and floods, while coastal areas are also threatened by sea level rise. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian
Observational records and model projections clearly shows that 75-250 million people in Africa are projected to face increased water stress by 2020 due to climate change; the average sea level is expected to rise by about 50 cm by 2100 and about 70 million people in Africa's coastal areas could face the risk of flooding by 2080. It is estimated that by 2100, parts of the Sahara are likely to become the most vulnerable, showing likely agricultural losses of between 2 and 7% of GDP and by 2050 average rice, wheat, and maize yields will decline by up to 14%, 22%, and 5%, respectively.
This poses a serious challenge to social and economic development particularly because the economies of most African countries depend on climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, water fisheries, energy, tourism etc. Any post-2015 agenda to reduce poverty in Africa sustainably needs to be 'climate proofed' with the flexibility and resources to ensure that communities can adapt to climate change and are protected against its impact. A post 2015 development framework needs to fully integrate climate change and the vital role of the environment in poverty reduction, as well as the causes of poverty and vulnerability. If, however, post-2015 discussions ignore climate change, they may condemn many Africans to a life of poverty; the result not only of climate change itself, but also of climate change responses that neglect the complexities of poverty reduction in the Africa continent.
To prevent that, here are eight steps that need to be taken to ensure that climate change is integrated into the post-2015 development agenda:

1 Protect and invest in African ecosystems

The African continent supports important biodiversity, both terrestrial and aquatic. Forest, grassland, coastal, freshwater and agricultural ecosystems provide food and clean water, store atmospheric carbon, support biodiversity, and offer tourism opportunities. Climate change will weaken these ecosystems, already stressed by overfishing, creeping desertification, deforestation and destruction of coral reefs.

2 Make adaptation and climate risk management core elements of post—2015 development agenda

While adapting to climate change and climate variability may push up the cost of development in the short term, for most African countries adaptation is fundamentally about sound, resilient development and ensuring economic gains over the long term. Key focus areas include: disaster risk reduction (DRR); sustainable land, water, and forest management; coastal and urban development; watershed management; increased agricultural productivity; health; and social issues. Building on small-scale solutions could unleash the adaptation potential as they can be rapidly implemented at the local level, are flexible and have the potential to initiate change on a larger scale with high multiplier and spill-over effects that can catalyse large-scale policy process at the national level. Integration of climate change adaptation, mitigation and disaster risk into planning and decision-making processes at all levels of government is crucial.

3 Take advantage of mitigation opportunities

Most of sub-Saharan Africa's mitigation opportunities are linked to more sustainable land and forest management, clean energy use and development (such as geothermal or hydropower), and the creation of sustainable urban transport systems. Some opportunities exist to access carbon finance by reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD), and through renewable energy and energy efficiency. This will help African countries to commit to the mitigation agenda, putting pressure on large emitters in Asia, North America and Europe to do the same, while furthering development.

4 Promote Sustainable agriculture and provide support to expand sustainable agriculture methods

The region must adopt climate-resilient technologies and practices to increase its crop yields and protect its livestock. Countries need to accelerate research, extension services and market infrastructure, while helping farmers benefit from integrating biodiversity into the landscape, and reduce carbon emissions from soil and deforestation. They must also hedge against climate risk by diversifying income sources and genetic material in crops.

5 Manage water

Water resources can be managed better even in poor countries and among small farmers through a combination of new and existing technologies, good information and stronger policies. In sub-Saharan Africa, measures should include expanding existing infrastructure and systems, and planning for storage and power transmission in the context of the changing climate.

6 Investment in climate smart infrastructures

Sub-Saharan Africa's urban population is set to exceed the rural by 2030. Moreover, cities and towns face increasing risks from water scarcity and floods, while coastal areas are also threatened by sea level rise. Hazard risk management needs to be mainstreamed into land use planning. Support and invest in networks of business incubators to spur entrepreneurship and innovation that is based on market demand and also addresses climate change challenges.

7 Focus on knowledge and capacity development

While there is unequivocal evidence that the climate is changing, much uncertainty remains regarding the pace and extent of change, as well as the impacts on different sub-regions and sectors. This uncertainty makes policy decisions more complex, and magnifies the need for Africa to build its knowledge and analytical base, as well as strengthen the capacity of country and regional institutions for weather forecasting, water resources monitoring, land use information, disaster preparedness, risk management, and planning and coordination.

8 Invest in information services

Reliable information is fundamental for good natural resource management. Africa is in dire need of better monitoring and forecasting systems. According to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), Africa has only one weather station per 26,000 sq km — one eighth the recommended minimum (Science and Development Network, 2006). Improve weather forecasting, water resources monitoring, land use information, disaster preparedness and investing in appropriate technology development. Strengthening capacity for planning and coordination, participation and consultation; and, bring all sectors together to collaborate and engage on a common vision for addressing climate change in Africa.
Dr Richard Munang is policy and programme coordinator for the Africa Climate Change Adaptation Programme of the United Nations Environment Programme