Submit Press release  · eTN Team ·  Advertising  ·  eTN Awards  - Worldtourism Events    

Responsible Tourism

Community tourism set to change nomadic life in Tanzania

Apolinari Tairo, eTN  Aug 30, 2010

TANZANIA (eTN) - In a corner of the eastern side of Serengeti National Park and wildlife rich Ngorongoro district, the tourism industry has played a big role in supporting local nomadic communities through revenues created from tourist donations and profit-sharing initiatives.

Villages bordering the wildlife areas of Loliondo and Lake Natron are currently getting assistance in the building of new primary and secondary schools, water projects, and the purchase of a community Land Rover car for their village activities, hence helping them settle in their respective localities.

This part of Tanzania provides some of the best wildlife and landscape opportunities in all of the country. From the Ngorongoro highlands and Gol Mountains in the west to Lake Natron in the east, this region has an unbelievable amount of variation.

Some of the best wildlife areas in East Africa are located in the Arash and Piyaya community lands and are used as destination points for up-market, exclusive safari camps. The remote landscape, vast plains, and friendly nomadic Maasai community provide the ideal setting for safaris.

Unlike other localities in Tanzania, villages in these areas are mostly occupied by Maasai and Sonjo pastoralists who have been living and depending on cattle to be their source of wealth, prestige, and daily needs.

Due to climate change, however, and the dry spell which hit the entirety of East Africa last year, most of them had their hundreds of thousands of livestock die for lack of grass and water.

Now, the Maasai community is looking to tourism as an alternative support to their daily livelihood, other than a total dependence of their dwindling cattle. The prolonged drought in northern Tanzania is changing the Maasai lifestyle of nomadic traditions to better living standards where they will be involved in various tourism activities and get direct revenues from tourism.

The Honeyguide Foundation, a Tanzanian-registered charity organization, is helping communities in the area to understand and benefit from tourism growth.

Community management plans for the four villages of Piyaya, Pinyinyi, Engaresero, and Arash are going on in tandem with the local people and government of Tanzania.

Each of these focuses on a shared vision for tourism activities and environmental management in the region through support from the Honeyguide Foundation, with a focus to achieve sustainable economic revenue from tourism development while balancing village needs, like good livestock grazing lands.

The results of these management plans under supervision from Honeyguide Foundation will lead to more revenue in village treasuries to be used for education (schools and scholarships), health, and basic livestock services.
Furthermore, the tourism industry will employ locals and create spin-off businesses like women-based arts and crafts, laundry and cleaning services, as well as meat and vegetable production.

Other community-supporting charities through tourism is the US-based Friends of Tanzanian Communities (FOTZC), which is running travelers' philanthropy in areas that neighbor the wildlife parks.

The FOTZC has funded construction of classrooms for the Ayalabe village in Karatu district in the Arusha region. It funded the construction of the classrooms, laid the foundations for several other classrooms to be built, and expressed commitment to work with the district on numerous development projects in the future.

Outspoken, outgoing member of parliament (MP) for the Karatu constituency, Dr. Wilbrod Slaa, honored FOTZC for its humanitarian support to local communities in his locality. Dr. Slaa is currently vying for Tanzania’s presidential post as a candidate of an opposition party.

"Investment is important in Karatu and in Tanzania. But we need investors who are transparent and who are willing to support and work with local communities," Dr. Slaa told guests from Stanford University.

Besides building the new classrooms, FOTZC laid the foundations for three other classrooms. The charity has also built a restroom facility at Ayalabe Primary School and has many other plans in development for the school.
Additionally, FOTZC also works with Ganako Secondary School and has other projects in Karatu. Stanford University has launched numerous initiatives in the country as well.

The outgoing Ngorongoro member of Parliament, Saning'o ole Telele, once visited FOTZC in Loliondo Division to meet with local Maasai cultural and community groups.

The MP has also joined ten American travelers in a cultural exchange with the Maasai women.

He was delighted to see Maasai women and Americans having such genuine interactions. The income the women make will make a big difference, the Maasai-born MP agreed.

With FOTZC support, the women will finish building and will fully set up their business.

A seminar on “responsible tourism” was held in June of this year. The seminar focused on responsible tourism with over 67 participants from the various sectors and specialist journalists, including our own eTN reporter in Tanzania.

Presenters from Tanzania and the region spoke on different topics on responsible tourism providing an opportunity for business people, government representatives, and community members to better understand the meaning and elements of responsible tourism and the support to local communities.

Community tourism set to change nomadic life in Tanzania
New Ayalabe village classroom / Image via Ayalabe village

Premium Partners