Arusha, Tanzania (eTN) – Growing participation in local community development through tourist gains has recently brought to Tanzania the prestigious Equator Prize, a United Nations-led partnership that supports grassroots efforts in biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation.
In this year’s list of 25 winners chosen from of this year’s chosen from 310 nominations, Tanzania’s charity and non-profit tourist-based organization the Ujamaa Community Resource Trust (UCRT) became one among global recipients of the Equator Prize.
The UCRT was established by Dorobo Safaris, a tourist and travel company with its operations in northern Tanzania’s conflict hunting area of Loliondo.
Dorobo Safaris is among companies with “Travelers’ Philanthropy” initiatives to establish community-based tourism ventures with villages adjacent to Tarangire and Serengeti National Parks with aims to promote the welfare of the local communities neighboring the two famous Tanzanian wildlife parks.
In the late ‘90s, the company established the Dorobo Fund for Tanzania through its business ventures and friends in United States of America. Together with a group of local community activists formed the UCRT as a unique community-based organization 11 years ago.
UCRT works with marginalized groups and pastoralists bordering tourist areas in northern Tanzania to manage natural resource systems and explore sustainable income-generation opportunities.
UCRT has helped over 20 villages in northern Tanzania including the biodiversity-rich areas of the Serengeti and Tarangire, secure land and resource tenure, enhance economic benefits of their ecosystems through ecotourism and establish community conserved areas based on indigenous management practices.
Each Equator Prize 2008 winner is testament to the linkages between ecosystem health and human well-being, to the indivisibility of conservation and poverty reduction as policy objectives, and to the significant contributions that local and indigenous communities are making to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
UCRT is one among African tourism-based charities to be featured during the 2008 Travelers’ Philanthropy Conference that will take place in Tanzania’s northern tourist city of Arusha and bring together key players in tourism and other humanitarian organizations.
More than 200 tourism and humanitarian executives have registered to convene and discuss how local African communities would benefit from tourism directly from the tourists.
Taking into consideration on the Africa’s rich tourism heritage, participants of the second Travelers’ Philanthropy Conference have teamed up to critically analyze the benefits that local communities would get through contributions from the tourists visiting their localities.
The three-day conference, to open on December 3, has already attracted quite a good number of key players in tourism and other humanitarian organizations to present their papers for discussion and opinions.
The East African coordinator for the conference Mr. Fred Nelson told eTN that key participants have registered from various countries including Costa Rica, United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, Namibia, Mexico and Dominica.
He said other early participants are from India, Kenya, Honduras, Uganda and the host country Tanzania, while more others were in registration process.
Among key speakers will come from the Nairobi-based Ecotourism Kenya, the leading regional ecotourism Non-governmental Organization (NGO) launched over 10 years ago.
Ecotourism Kenya has an innovative eco-rating scheme also promoting Travelers’ Philanthropy as co-sponsor of the forthcoming conference.
Another key participant is the Honeyguide Foundation, a charity organization that was established by Arusha-based Sokwe-Asilia as a non-profit foundation working to integrate goals of conservation, tourism development, and community development.
Other notable sponsors and key speakers during the conference will be drawn from Basecamp Explorer and Basecamp Foundation of Kenya, Micato Safaris (USA), Safari Ventures (USA), Julian Page, Livingstone Tanzania Trust, Cultural Tourism Programme (Tanzania) and the Miracle Corners of the World (Tanzania).