Raising Environmental Awareness in a Biodiverse But Highly Impacted Ecosystem

Hans Cosmas Ngoteya

My project aim to raise environment conservation awareness and help youth identify sustainable economic activities in the villages that will improve their wellbeing.

Hans teaching youth about Chameleon.

Hans teaching youth about Chameleon.

Raising environmental awareness in a biodiverse but highly impacted ecosystem is a programme targeting youth aged from 10-35 with the goal of reducing pressure on natural resources in Mpimbwe district council and Katavi-Rukwa ecosystem in large by decreasing conservation threats (Poaching, Deforestation and Encroachment). The program is part of an ongoing project called Vijana na Mazingira - VIMA it was initiated in 2012 as Usevya Youth and Education Center (UYEC) by professor from University of California-Davis, Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, working with one village of Usevya. But the project was designed and implemented starting on 2014 under management of Mr. Hans Cosmas Ngoteya, and we succeeded to expand the project to other four villages and change the project name to Vijana na Mazingira-VIMA (Youth and the Environment). During this time, we worked as an individual project until March 2016 a Non-government organization was initiated called landscape and Conservation Mentors Organization (LCMO) which VIMA now work under it as an umbrella organization.

Youth observing Hippos during a day in the park.

Youth observing Hippos during a day in the park.

During this time, we have succeeded to conduct different conservation education and livelihood improvement program to youth. It has become very clear to us that despite the abundance of top-down environmental projects proliferating in Tanzania, the funds directed towards Wildlife Management Areas, and the energetic initiatives towards REDD+ (i.e., Reduced Emissions, Deforestation and Degradation) actual developments on the ground are often negligible. In part this can be attributed to the fact that rarely are these projects represented at the village level, or managed by Tanzanian citizens. We are instead emphasizing leadership and community action in natural resource conservation at a local level. I am networked to University of California at Davis for consultation and technical advice (I am a research associate at UC Davis), and we train and hire local individual youth from villages to assist in running the project; this ensures project sustainability beyond the project’s lifetime. Community action is central to every one of our activities, with initially reluctant youth now taking active leadership roles in education, communication, and organization. Our goal is for Mpimbwe youth to experience a sense of agency and relevance. This is achieved through a balance of educational, performance and recreational activities.

Planting tree seed on the seed bed.

Planting tree seed on the seed bed.

Tree nursery established in the village reached by the project.

Tree nursery established in the village reached by the project.