Author:  Alphonce Zenus - Program coordinator

Natural resource management plans are essential component among others; avoidance and reduction of natural resource related conflicts. On January, 2021 Tanzania Natural Resource Forum (TNRF) together with Longido district council officers facilitated the development of Natural Resources Management Plans and community led bylaws at Elerai and Olmolog villages. These villages were purposely selected for their readiness indicated to accept the process and diversity in land uses where both farming and pastoralism are conducted with critical challenges on land managements which needed immediate response. It was also noticed that village governments had no capacity and knowledge on how to well develop their plans for easy implementation and procedures necessary for bylaws making. In Olmolog for example, they had a list of disintegrated activities which were planned in one year, but they lacked knowledge on making sector specific plans.

Development of natural resource management plans targeted to give room for the village councils which are legally mandated to initiate the process of making village plans to understand their roles, powers, limits and process on making resources management plans and bylaws.

Despite of having diversity of natural resources within the village boundaries, Elerai and Olmolg village governments chose to start with the preparation of five-year management plan for rangelands and water resources. Other resources like farm land and forests will still be another priority of these village governments but their management plans will be prepared and implemented as soon as the village governments have the capacity.

Development of the rangeland and water resources management plans and their bylaws for Olmolg and Elerai villages followed legal procedures as it is stipulated in Local Government Act no.7(District authorities) of 1982 and best practices. Members of the village governments in both villages were unanimously successful supported the process and approved the management plans prepared by the village councils through village assemblies meetings.

Through this process, communities members were  enhanced knowledge on development and implementation of natural resource managemnt plans in adherance to laws and procedures, Identification of existing natural resource conflicts for alternative solution through the developed plans and bylaws, Improved relationship and communication between village authorities, Longido district council and other stakeholders, Enhanced protection of rangelands and water resources by forming part of the resources available in the villages and the increasing demands of their use which do not tally with their capacity, Documentation of village disintegrated activities on villages authorities into formalized plans with laws to support implementation. Also, the initiative in the two selected villages set ground for testing the effectiveness and lessons to be learnt in the process.

Therefore, this was a milestone towards supporting communities in proper management of their resources for sustainable use at local level. For villages, it is critical to have management plans for natural resources in place to allow sustainable development, equitable and sustainable natural resource management. It is thus recommended to support as many villages as possible to develop these plans for improved livelihood and equitable community of practice.

It is also very important to keep monitoring the progresses and challenges that villages will be facing throughout implementation for upscale.

Equitable and Sustainable Natural Resource Management Project (ESNRMP) is one among of the project implemented by the Tanzania Natural Resource Forum (TNRF) with funding from the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS). The project is implemented in Longido district at Elerai, Tingatinga, Ildonyo and Olmolog villages.  Among others, the project aims at addressing land use conflicts in targeted communities, while borrowing experience from former TNRF programs including community land protection initiative experience, an International Land Coalition (ILC). With no or reduced conflicts, communities will be able to manage their resources equitably and sustainably for generational sustainable socio-economic development.