Rubana River and Wetland Integrated Riverbank Land Rehabilitation and Food Security Project
The Rubana River originates in Serengeti National Park and eventually flows into Lake Victoria.
This project focuses on increasing awareness of the causes and consequences of environmental degradation, which significantly compromises the local population’s ability to produce sufficient food and sustain livelihoods. The project’s goal is to address biodiversity conservation by raising awareness and working with the targeted populations to change behaviour.
Why this project is important
In this area of Tanzania, a damaged ecosystem, poor agronomic practices and unproductive local seed varieties undermine the ability of the local population to produce sufficient food and build and sustain reliable livelihoods.
The 11 target communities in the Rubana River Catchment area are inhabited by subsistence farming households/agro-pastoralists whose dependence on natural resources has led to indiscriminate and unsustainable resource extraction rates. Deforestation and overgrazing are causing riverbanks to erode, and the continuous demand for wood for energy, construction, charcoal production and brick-making is accelerating deforestation and amplifying soil erosion. Also, erratic climate patterns are causing prolonged periods of drought or flooding.
Livestock represents wealth and insurance to pastoralists. In the absence of reserved grazing areas, large herds of cattle graze free range at will on all available vegetation, including trees, grass and farmers’ fields. This leads to clashes between famers and pastoralists. Compounding these issues are incursions by wild animals from Serengeti National Park.
Project strategies and objectives
Approximately 990 farmers (50 per cent of whom are female) are being targeted as direct beneficiaries of this project. In addition, the pay-it-forward aspect of this project and the success demonstrated by CPAR’s Farmer Field School approach to food security will spread the benefits of this project further into the community. The expected outcomes are:
Increased Food Security and Improved Livelihoods
Men and women in this area of Tanzania are being trained in gender balances using the Farmer Field School model. Conservation agriculture and integrated pest management are being introduced. Improved maize seeds and other inputs identified by FFS groups are being provided. Each FFS group has a one-acre demonstration plot where they can practice new farming methods and experiment with new seed varieties without risk.
FFS members are adopting effective methods of animal husbandry, enabling them to keep dairy goats and chickens. They are also learning about modern beekeeping methods. Pastoralists are being introduced to the concept of destocking their herds to decrease herd size while at the same time increasing the health and value of the remaining animals. The concept of setting aside land for controlled grazing is being introduced.
All FFS members will be trained in Village Community Banking (VICOBA), a savings and loan scheme. VICOBAs are very popular with smallholder farmers, especially women farmers, as they increase their capacity to save as well as their access to cash.
- Rehabilitate degraded land and riverbanks through community-run agroforestry initiatives
Tree seedlings and grass cuttings will be provided for project activities by Farmer Field School run agroforestry initiatives. Trees and grass will be planted to stabilize and protect riverbanks from further erosion. Although brick making will continue, the project will promote the use of rice husks in place of wood.
- Reduce fuel wood consumption by promoting energy saving stoves and bio gas systems at the household level
Wood saving stoves are very appealing to women. They reduce the amount of time spent looking for firewood, they decrease the amount of smoke in the house and, unlike the three-stone fireplace which requires constant attention and poses a danger to toddlers, a pot can be left on an energy-saving stove, freeing up time for other activities.
To date, CPAR has:
- Established two tree nurseries and supported the planting of over 180,000 tree seedlings in schools, households, and open land areas.
- Constructed eight bio-gas and two energy saving stove demonstration sites.
- Provided training on environmentally responsible income generating activities and instruction in marketing, sale, and financial literacy.
- Provided trainings and equipment to manage 500 acers of land for controlled livestock grazing. This ensures that farmers’ crops are used for the nutritional needs of the farmers and their families.
- Conducted trainings on rainwater harvesting dams and irrigation systems to help water crops during dry periods.
- Tangibly changed attitudes towards gender achieved through gender sensitization trainings that are shifting the power structures between men and women in rural Tanzania. For the first time, women are owning land and animals, and are establishing themselves as entrepreneurs. And men are including their wives in household income decisions. Whole communities are re-evaluating their attitude towards gender and the negative impact it has on their daily lives.