Inclusively and sustainably managing natural resources: Experiences from cross-sectoral stewardship partnerships in Tanzania 

Collaborative approaches to natural resources governance enable accountability and equitable allocation of resources between competing demands, as can be the case between upstream and downstream water use needs. GIZ’s Natural Resources Stewardship (NatuReS) programme provides facilitation and strategy in setting up cross-sectoral stewardship partnerships for Tanzanian stakeholders to jointly analyze and address natural resources risks, aiming at generating social, environmental and economic benefits.

The programme developed the Natural Resources Risk and Action Framework (NRAF) as a five-phased participatory process to enable stakeholders from businesses, communities, and governments to tackle shared environmental risks together.

Setting up Stewardship Partnerships in Tanzanian River Catchments

Stewardship partnerships supported by GIZ-NatuReS are built on the understanding that natural resources are better managed through cross-sectoral collaboration. Leveraging the resources and capacities of every sector, the availability and integrity of these resources can be ensured in the long term. Partnerships are established through a step-by-step inclusive process, guiding partners in tackling shared environmental risks in a participatory manner. The aim is to reduce classical silo working systems by accompanying public, private, and civil society sector in identifying joint risks and supporting them in developing joint solutions to reduce these risks. Under this framework, NatuReS Tanzania acts as a neutral broker – supporting partners in working together to find mutually beneficial solutions for sustainable economic growth and the continued use of precious natural resources (Richards et. al, 2022)

Partners under the Sustainable Water Management Partnership (SUWAMA) in Usa River, Northern Tanzania, during the signing of their Partnership Action Plan. Copyright: GIZ/Aristarick Mkenda. 

Enhancing Inclusive Participation in Water Resources Governance

NatuReS in Tanzania has enhanced inclusive participation within the supported partnerships by ensuring the equal involvement and representation of all stakeholders in the discussion, planning and decision-making processes in natural resources management. To enable cross-sectoral collaboration, good leadership and coordination mechanisms are of paramount importance. Therefore, the key added value the partnership approach brings to natural resources management is improving the communication and coordination between various users, who are otherwise often not communicating or even hostile towards each other. The regular good governance meetings that partners under the Sustainable Water Management Partnership (SUWAMA) held prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and steering committee meetings that continue to date are examples of these joint fora. In these meetings, participants exchange about how regulators’ roles and responsibilities can be harmonized to increase results-based decision-making, collaboration between sectors can be enhanced, and compliance to environmental regulations be better enforced.  

SUWAMA Partners in Usa River, Northern Tanzania, discussing governance issues in the sub-catchment. Copyright: GIZ/Adelaide Mkwawa. 

Strengthening Civil Society Organizations 

To improve communities and civil society participation, NatuReS has continuously supported the capacitation of Water Users Associations (WUAs), who were previously inactive. WUAs are legal entities stemming from the Water Resources Management Act of 2009. They act as “small water boards” at the community level and are designed as the lowest participative organizations for water resources management within defined basins. Covering segments of watersheds, they are broadly responsible for water conservation activities, conflict management over water issues, and water allocation to irrigators through a permitting system. They are mandated by the Water Act and respective basin boards to bring up the issues of water users at the basin level. As “the eyes and ears” on the ground for the basin offices, they are particularly insightful in managing conflicts over water allocation and know the livelihood activities of local communities.

Water Users Association members participating in a Financial Management training. Copyright: GIZ/Ebrania Mlimbila.

As a WUA leader, I was inspired to join the partnership after seeing the challenges of working with a large group of water users. The partnership has worked by bringing together investors, water users and other diverse stakeholders. We know what everyone is doing, where water is being abstracted from and for what purpose. Furthermore, water users are now conversant with the various governance structures responsible in taking care and overseeing the available water sources. Prior to joining the partnership, Water Users Associations and the Pangani Basin Water Office would constantly be accused of not equitably distributing water among beneficiaries. Through improved coordination, stakeholders now understand their roles and responsibilities in taking care of this precious natural resource. 

– Tito Kitomari, Upper Kikuletwa WUA Leader 

NatuReS undertook a capacity assessment of the WUAs, identified areas for enhancing their capacity, and provided trainings within the areas of Catchment Conservation – enabling them to play a greater role in sustainable catchment conservation and management; Financial Management – supporting them in managing the finances of their institutions; as well as Leadership and Governance – to build their capacity on strategic leadership, focusing on governance and community leadership roles. 

Water resources issues concern everyone in the community, therefore involvement [participation] is crucial. Partnerships provide a platform where stakeholders discuss these issues and help us to come up with more powerful solutions.

– Karim Kimaro, Weruweru WUA Secretary

Steering Private Sector Funds towards Water Resources Management  

Gabions installed at the DOMIKWA irrigation furrow intake. Copyright: GIZ/Ebrania Mlimbila.

Under partnerships following a stewardship approach, businesses go beyond their corporate social responsibility by making in-cash and in-kind contributions to partnership activities, leveraging funds for public sector to adequately manage natural resources. A good example is the DOMIKWA irrigation furrow structural rehabilitation in the Usa River sub-catchment. The furrow, located along the Usa River, is one of the main furrows supplying water in the area. Partners joined forces to rehabilitate it after its structure had severely deteriorated over time. In-cash and in-kind contributions of 38.5M and 10M Tanzanian shillings were pledged by private sector and furrow members, respectively. The private sector procured most of the construction materials and covered all the labor costs. 

Without effective collaboration between government agencies, businesses and communities, it is impossible to make these activities [water resources management] sustainable.

– Abraham Yessaya, Community Development Officer, PBWB
DOMIKWA furrow structural rehabilitation discussions between public sector, private sector and civil society. Copyright: GIZ/Ebrania Mlimbila.

Availability and good quality of natural resources like water, soil or air are key to livelihoods and economies. Their scarcity, endangerment or mismanagement can provoke conflicts. Innovative approaches like natural resources stewardship offer an opportunity to address shared risks and develop joint, inclusive and long-lasting solutions for water-stressed catchments such as the Pangani Basin in Tanzania.

Maintaining a 7-kilometer-long river stream is too much to handle for one company alone. It is difficult to monitor issues such as water theft, structural issues and vandalism at the furrows and water source. As a beneficiary, Dekker Chrysanten believes that collective action is necessary to resolve water challenges. Addressing water risks becomes easier as the responsibility to maintain the river stream is equitably shared amongst stakeholders.

– Gabriel Steven, Flower Transporter and Breeding officer, Dekker Chrysanten 

World Rivers Day Commemoration and Launch of the Zambezi Source Restoration Project in Zambia

World Rivers Day is a celebration of the world’s waterways. It’s a day set aside to highlight and remind us of the value that rivers bring to support life, encouraging improved stewardship of all rivers around the world. The World River’s Day Celebration in Zambia was held on the 26th of September 2022 at the source of the mighty Zambezi River in Ikelenge district, in the Northwestern part of the country. The theme of this year’s celebration was “The importance of Rivers for Biodiversity. “

World Rivers Day Celebrations
World Rivers Day Celebrations.
Copyright: Ministry of Water Development and Sanitation

In the key note speech read on behalf of the Minister of Water, Development and Sanitation, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources and Member of Parliament for Ikelenge constituency Hon. Elijah Muchima, highlighted the significant role rivers play for our livelihoods. He bemoaned the degradation of rivers and freshwater ecosystems due to unregulated and overuse of water, pollution, river bank cultivation and deforestation, causing erosion and siltation of river beds. He emphasized the Zambian government’s commitment to champion policy reforms and strengthen leadership in the management of water resources, including the restoration of the Zambezi source landscape.

The Minister of Lands and Natural resources delivering the keynote speech.
Copyright: Ministry of Water Development and Sanitation

In light of this commitment, the Provincial Minister of North-Western Province, Honorable Robert Lihefu MP, launched the Zambezi Source Ecosystem Restoration Project at the same event. The project, which will be implemented in collaboration with WWF, Stanbic Bank, GIZ’s NatuReS Programme, the Forestry Department and the National Heritage Commission, seeks to improve natural resources management in the Zambezi Headwaters area. Partners aim for restoring the ecosystem to a condition representative of the native ecosystem. They will also support alternative livelihoods for the local communities.

The Managing Director and CEO of Stanbic Bank Zambia PLC, Mr. Mwindwa Siakalima, stressed the need to preserve the health of the river and pledged to continue supporting the efforts to restore the ecosystem at the source. Additionally, the Country Director of WWF, Ms. Nachila Nkhombo, urged government to take steps to legally protect the area and commended the traditional leadership for the their support in protecting the Zambezi source.

The celebration ended with a tree planting activity at the Zambezi Source, led by Her Royal Highness, Cheiftainess Ikeleng’i.

Her Royal Highness, Cheiftainess Ikeleng’i leading the tree planting process.
Copyright: Ministry of Water Development and Sanitation

NatuReS is part of the initiative to protect the Zambezi River, as the degradation of the Zambezi River source has the potential to affect everyone, and no single actor can improve water security by working alone. Different capacities are required to prevent water insecurity. Only by partnering across sectors can the Zambezi River be protected in the long run.

Launch of partnership wetland conservation activities in Uganda

Wetlands serve as the ‘kidneys’ of the earth. They store and purify water, protect areas from flooding and are a vital habitat for fish and other wildlife. Once a wetland is degraded, it can’t maintain its ecological functions which poses risks to human health, biodiversity, and environmental security.

Partners under the Commercial Flower Farms Integrated Catchment Management Partnership have joined forces to combat the degradation of wetlands around Greater Kampala. On 28th of September 2022, Nature Uganda, a civil society organisation working for the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable management of natural resources, officially launched their activities under the partnership in Mpigi District. The focus lies on the conservation of the Semagimbi wetland.

Conserving Semagimbi wetland together

Mpigi District belongs to the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area and hosts the Semagimbi wetland. This wetland has been heavily degraded by encroachment, land use change, a growing population and pollution from nearby industries.

Map of Semagimbi wetland
Map showing the status of Semagimbi Wetland system (Source: Wetlands Department, MWE 2022)

To support the conservation of the wetland, Nature Uganda is implementing a variety of activities under the partnership in Mpigi District. These include:

  • Development of a wetland management plan for Semagimbi wetland
  • Demarcation and environmental restoration of 10 km of the wetland
  • Establishment of wetland management committees
  • Identification and promotion of alternative livelihood options
  • Sensitization campaigns on sustainable use of natural resources
  • Engagement of schools around the wetland on solid waste management

Launch Event organized by Nature Uganda

partnership group photo
Attendees of the launch event including local district leaders, Nature Uganda, private sector representatives and schools of the area.
© Nature Uganda

During the launch event, stakeholders from the Ministry of Water & Environment (Mr. Benard Arinaitwe, Ass. Commissioner Wetlands), Mpigi Local Government (Ms. Maria Lubega, Deputy Resident District Commissioner; Mr. Emmanuel Ssempala, Deputy Chief Admission Officer; Ms. Aisha Nakirija, Vice-Chairperson; Mr. Tony Mwidyeki, District Natural Resource Officer), Religious and Cultural Leaders, students and a representative of the private sector (Mr. Victor Embati, Quality Assurance Manager Fiduga/ Dummen Orange) came together at Mpigi District Local Government Headquarters to be introduced to the activities led by Nature Uganda and to give room for discussions. Finally, participants visited Semagimbi wetland to showcase issues on ground.

The Executive Director of Nature Uganda, Achilles Byaruhanga, highlighted: “We have in plan many interventions, which include working with schools around the Semagimbi wetland. By sensitizing them on proper waste management ways, we believe these children can help us pass this information to their parents.”

wetland field visit
Executive Director of Nature Uganda, Achilles Byaruhanga, next to Semagimbi wetland, explaining issues affecting the wetland to local leaders and attendees of the launch event. © GIZ/Alisa Knoll

With the project officially launched, the stage is now set for the implementation of activities in Mpigi district. Jointly, partners will support the conservation of the wetland to ensure it can serve its ecological function for generations to come.

Read more about the launch on Nature Uganda’s website here: Nature Uganda rallies partners to restore Semagimbi Wetland. – Nature Uganda

Launch of Innovation Hub for transformative plastic waste recycling and job creation in Uganda

To promote resource efficiency and protect the integrity of natural resources, a shift to a circular economy in which products are reused and recycled instead of being wasted, is crucial. Therefore, an innovation hub for plastic recycling has been launched on 28th September 2022 at the International University of East Africa (IUEA) under the framework ofthe Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area PET Plastic Recycling Partnership. The multi-stakeholder partnership supported by NatuReS strives to improve the sustainable management of PET plastic in GKMA by developing an inclusive green recycling sector.

Launch of Recycling Hub
A commemorative plague at the Plastic Recycling Innovation Hub launched at the International University of East Africa. Copyright: GIZ/Simon Akena

The Innovation Hub is a collaboration between IUEA, EcoBrixs, a Ugandan social enterprise working on plastic recycling, and NatuReS. EcoBrixs buys plastic from waste collectors, which it then recycles into a variety of new products such as bricks, pavers, fence posts or face shields.

Aware of the environmental impact of plastic waste and the importance of recycling in preserving natural resources, partners also recognize recycling as an opportunity to boost the local economy through employment and the production of other useful products. The hub aims to form a generation of empowered and skilled young Ugandans, capable of tackling Uganda’s plastic waste management challenges innovatively and collectively.

Therefore, the hub creates a space for plastic waste reduction through triggering and supporting recycling innovations. IUEA students will be the trainees, benefiting from the opportunity to explore and learn practical techniques in recycling from plastic waste recycling experts. EcoBrixs will, for example, provide the hub with the necessary know-how, skills and trainers.

Training the youth for innovative green jobs

However, the plastic recycling innovation hub will even go a step further and contribute to addressing some of Uganda’s youth employment challenges. The trainees will additionally gain employment and entrepreneurial skills. This will assist them in using and creating employment opportunities in Uganda’s recycling sector, which represents a goldmine of untapped possibilities. In fact, Uganda generates 600 tons of plastics waste daily according to the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). This waste is currently handled by just over 30 registered recycling companies, working on a very small scale due to technical and resource constraints as revealed by the Global Green Growth Institute’s “Kampala solid waste value chain mapping” report. These figures demonstrate a huge potential for further recycling and opportunities for recycling startups to thrive.

Students
IUEA students during the launch of the Plastic Recycling Innovation Hub. Copyright: GIZ/Simon Akena.

By fostering a green jobs education approach that focuses on supporting circular economy initiatives, the Innovation hub will thus encourage the students to pursue green jobs and better manage plastic waste, building a workforce for a sustainable and inclusive future. This is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 12, which focuses on environmentally sound waste management through prevention, reduction, recycling, and reuse, as well as SDG 8, seeking sustained, inclusive economic growth and decent work for all. The Hub further contributes to Uganda’s green Jobs Programme, which aims at creating green and decent jobs to enhance labour productivity and reduce poverty through the promotion of innovative skills development and the enhancement of productivity and competitiveness of workers and enterprises.

The hub is expected to result in the following annual outcomes:

  • 300 students trained in plastic recycling annually.
  • Through research and development of joint ventures with trainees, two prototype products are developed from plastic waste and brought to market per graduating year.
  • After graduation, 80% of trainees find employment in waste management and recycling.
  • At least 60 tons (5 tons per month) of plastic waste are recycled sustainably.

The Hub training modules have been integrated into the university’s curriculum. This, as well as partner commitments, will ensure the hub’s long-term viability and sustained outcomes.

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Author: Simon Akena, GIZ-NatuReS Uganda

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