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Natural Resources Stewardship for Sustainable Agriculture in Tanzania

Agriculture is Tanzania’s main economic driver, providing 30% of the country’s GDP and livelihood opportunities to 70% of the population living in rural areas. As a result, this sector aids the country in reducing poverty rates by providing income-generating opportunities.

However, due to the rapid increase in population size, massive portions of land are being cleared for agricultural purposes, causing an overdependence on the available natural resources required for maintaining a balanced eco-system and controlling the adequate environmental conditions required for a habitable environment.

Conserving ecosystems while providing rural communities with income opportunities

Seeing this, partners of the Sustainable Water Management (SUWAMA) partnership in the Weruweru sub catchment in Northern Tanzania worked together to bring an alternative, aimed to help communities in these rural areas broaden their livelihood opportunities in an eco-friendly manner. The idea is to conserve the ecosystem so that it continues providing the optimal conditions for sustainable agriculture whilst providing rural communities an opportunity to generate a little more income through a #pay2grow model.

tree nursery in Tanzania
Ficus, Cordia Africana, and Markhamia Lutea seedlings ready to be planted. Copyright: GIZ/Sarah Scott

Testing this idea in the Weruweru sub-catchment, each partner took up their role responsibly by sharing tasks equally amongst themselves. A study was done by the Kilimanjaro Project in collaboration with the Pangani Basin Water Board (PBWB) and the Weruweru Water Users Association (WUA) to identify the degraded riparian hotspots in the area. After the hotspots were identified, African Plantations Kilimanjaro (APK) allocated the nursery site and water to raise 21,500 seedlings, thus enabling Kijani Pamoja to nurture the seedlings appropriately. When the seedlings were ready, Dekker Chrysanten transported 1400 of them to the identified planting sites allocated in the survey. Finally, communities from each village in the wards participated in planting these seedlings on the identified hotspots with guidance from PBWB, Local Government Authorities (LGAs) and Kijani Pamoja. The remaining 20,100 will be planted towards the end of the year 2021.

tree planting in Northern Tanzania
PBWB official (on the left) guiding the men of the Nkweshoo village on where to plant the seedlings in the 2nd riparian hotspot within the vicinity of the Weruweru river.
Copyright: GIZ/Adelaide Mkwawa
people planting trees in Northern Tanzania
Men and women of the Kilanya village planting trees together on the first riparian zone within the vicinity of the Weruweru river.
Copyright: GIZ/Adelaide Mkwawa

These trees will be geo-tagged and closely monitored by the community through quarterly updates on the growth status. The communication will be done through a mobile application designed by Greenstand – an American NGO collaborating with Kijani Pamoja and the Kilimanjaro Project. The caretakers will take photos of these trees through the application and their existence will be justified through geo-tagging. As a reward for taking care of the trees, these caretakers will receive a small stipend from each tree. Also, educational information on the best preventative measures against COVID-19 in rural areas will be available on the application.

Tree being planted in Tanzania
One of the three tree species, Markhamia Lutea, planted in the riparian hotspots.
Copyright: GIZ/Adelaide Mkwawa

Seeing the successful collaboration between public and private sectors, civil society organisations and the community itself in the Weruweru sub-catchment shows that the natural resources stewardship approach in Tanzania has the potential to assist the government in meeting its set goals in the National Development Framework for the country’s socio-economic development.

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Introducing low-cost technology to improve PET collection in Addis Ababa

Studies indicate that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish. To sustainably counter the negative impacts of plastic on our environment and health, action is needed on all levels, with major improvements to waste management and recycling practices being pivotal to counter the current trends.

In Addis Ababa, plastic accounts for 15% of the total waste. PET, used mainly for water and soda bottles, makes up 41% of the total plastic waste generated in the city. Plastic pollution is a common problem in the city, and drainage channels are often clogged with plastic, including many PET bottles, increasing the risk for floodings.

Collected PET plastic at one of the collector association’s working stations, near the new stadium in Addis Ababa
Copyright: GIZ

Improving the collection and recycling of used plastics can contribute to alleviating plastic pollution in the city. However, many factors impede the efficiency of plastic collection and recycling. Among them are high transportation costs of unbaled plastics, a lack of space for waste collectors to sort already collected waste, as well as no access to electricity, which would allow collectors to scale up their operations by using baling machines.

Manual baling machines to improve PET collection

To counter these challenges, NatuReS has partnered up with Irish Aid and the Addis Ababa Solid Waste Management Agency (SWMA) on a project to design and pilot manual baling machines. The aim is to improve PET collection. Baling PET significantly lowers the costs to transport plastic to processors. At the same time, waste collectors receive a 40% premium when selling baled PET. The manual baling machine, which is cheaper to procure and operate than its electric counterpart, will incentivize waste collectors to collect more PET, contributing to cleaner streets while creating additional employment opportunities in the plastic value chain.

Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by Dr. Eshetu Lemma, General Manager of the Addis Ababa Solid Waste Management Agency, and James Njeru, NatuReS Country Coordinator Ethiopia (from left to right)
Copyright: GIZ

Plastic banks in Gulu City for increased recycling

Innovative solutions for increased community participation in plastic waste recycling

man transporting plastic bottles
Young people collect PET waste from households to deliver to Takataka plastics for cash.
Copyright: Takataka Plastics/Peter Okwoko

Gulu is a plastic waste sink – plastic comes in but never gets out, because recycling options are limited. Since the city is a six-hour drive from the nearest recycling plant, the high transportation costs make it economically unattractive to send low-value plastic waste there for recycling. Hence, the plastic is either buried in an unlined landfill, burned or littered on the street, where it blocks drainage channels, pollutes water sources, and forms stagnant waters which are a threat to public health.

The Gulu Integrated Catchment Management Partnership aims at reducing the amount of solid waste entering the environment and securing the quality and quantity of the city’s main water source. Takataka Plastics as the main private sector partner upcycles waste, both organic and plastics, into high-quality, affordable products. The company contributes to reducing the amount of waste in the streets of Gulu, while creating jobs, as well as safeguarding and stimulating investments.

Increased community participation in plastic recycling

Among the innovative solutions for increased community participation in plastic recycling, Takataka, with support from the KFW’s Integrated Programme to Improve the Living Conditions in Gulu, has come up with a low-cost sustainable solution: the bottle banks. The barred boxes offer an opportunity for community members to easily sort plastic from other waste categories.  People simply deposit plastics they would have otherwise thrown away with other waste into the banks.

plastic bank in Gulu
Plastic bank at Gulu’s main market.
Copyright: Takataka Plastics/Peter Okwoko

The banks are mostly placed in public places like schools, hospitals, police stations and markets. A cart belongs to each of them. When the banks are full, young people empty them and use the carts to deliver the plastic to Takataka Plastics in exchange for cash. The youths are paid according to the kilograms they deliver. Currently, there are only six plastic banks in the city. Throughout the course of the partnership, more mechanisms like the banks will be implemented. Increased community participation in solid waste management is essential to reduce pollution in Gulu and protect the city’s water sources.

Man carrying cart to transport plastic waste
Carts making transportation of plastic waste from the collection centres to the recycling plant easier.
Copyright: Takataka Plastics/Ochan Clifford

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