- In need of a break and change of scenery, a group of 15 tourists from Colorado in the US packed their bags and travelled to Tanzania to participate in community work.
The daily life of the locals is slowly but surely becoming the agenda of tourists who venture out to volunteer on community work.
In need of a break and change of scenery, a group of 15 tourists from Colorado in the US packed their bags and travelled to Tanzania to participate in community work.
With a holiday to spare and a desire to escape the aduous demands of the high school work they set out from Arusha city last week. From there they headed to Tengeru, 13 kms away, for their first base.
They started their day with an insight of the Meru culture in which the Tengeru Cultural Tourism Program (TCTP) was their host.
They were part of a full day programme as environmental conservation volunteers at the intersection of Patandi and Akheri Kati villages
The Tengeru Cultural Tourism Programme works with the loal communities and actively involves them in environmental conservation activities. And it values has been added to the local economy.
Their objective is to stick to the principles of green environment and uplift the community as well as ensure it adheres to an environmental code of practice. International tourists keen on adding in their holiday itinerary on a community work are increasingly popular through the initiative of cultural tourism activities.
According to Ms Gladness Pallamgyo, the cordinator, Cultural tourism ensures local people benefit directly from the tourism industry which thrives on their culture, heritage, and natural resources. On this day a total of 60 tree seedlings were planted as part of the conservation effort. The target is to plant 5,000 trees in the surrounding areas.
Ms Pallangyo, speaking to reporters said the Village Conservation Initiative (VECI) is one of the projects under their watch. “As part of our environment conservation efforts, we have a tree planting project which is friendly with the environment and the livelihood of the rural people.
It has put together a sensitization programme designed to instruct and enlighten, and to promote environmental conservation awareness of those living at the foot of Mount Meru forest and the surrounding areas. Under the foot of Mount Meru, 4566m second highest in Tanzania, and its surrounding areas have higher rainfall than the lowlands, so greater agricultural productivity and higher population densities also distinguish them from the lowlands.
The steep gradients which are common in these highlands present special problems for farming, especially when tree clearance precedes cultivation of the soil.
Tree felling is often followed by surface runoff of rainwater and soil erosion, which results in the rapid environmental damage. Some of these problems can be avoided by replanting of trees.
“We have many training exercises aimed at helping the community adopt new methods of conservation. These methods will lead to increased conservation protection and food production, thus reducing the poverty level among community members,” stressed Ms Pallangyo.
Community members living near the forest, according to Ms Pallangyo, are delegated the duty of helping to ensure all who use the forest act in a manner conducive to safe, and productive usage of the natural resources. In addition to self policing activities, land pressure is used to help curtail land encroachment.
The area favours the wildlife making it prime safari destination of choice.
Tanzania has so much to offer. Sadly though, daily life is often far removed from such idyllic conceptions, said Lisa Marie Howell, one of the tourists.
“Through the safe distance of our digital television sets it may be hard for us to fully comprehend the adversity faced by the average Tanzanian citizen but this time round I am glad to experience this first-hand” Lisa said.