Strengthening voices: Tanzanian pastoralists shape their future
Patterns and intensity of rainfall are changing and the seasons are becoming more unpredictable in the drylands of Tanzania, as is happening throughout the drylands in East Africa. Pastoralism provides over 90% of the meat and milk products consumed in Tanzania. Pastoralists make productive use of the scattered and changing resources in the dryland ecosystems, but pastoralist voices are often excluded from higher levels of decision-making about the use of the dryland resources. Since 2007, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the Kimmage Development Studies Centre and the Tanzania Natural Resource Forum – together with their partners – have been carrying out a project designed to generate more informed and equitable discussion and debate on pastoralism in Tanzania. Using local government reform processes, the “Strengthening Voices” project works at the community, local government and national levels – addressing the gaps in knowledge and power imbalances within all three. The central pillar of the project is a training course on the economic and ecological processes in pastoral systems, clarifying the rationale that underpins livelihood strategies. National politicians, local district officials and community participants have all benefited from the training. At the end of its first three-year phase, good progress has been made in Longido District in designing and using approaches that promote citizen involvement in policy processes. With their new evidence, training and advocacy skills, people are now better able to inform policymakers of the economic and environmental benefits of pastoralism. The booklet Strengthening voices: how pastoralist communities and local government are shaping strategies for adaptive environmental management and poverty reduction in Tanzania’s drylands (text by Helen de Jode and Ced Hesse) explains the background to the project, its achievements, and how it plans to outscale to other districts in Tanzania and elsewhere in East Africa.