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Tanzania AWF - Concerns on Water Project

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Posted by  Cody Wednesday, 19 July 2006 13:25

Tanzania AWF - Concerns on Water Project

AWF Responds to Concerns About Water Harvesting Project

 

Concerns have recently been raised about a water harvesting project in Ol Tukai village in northern Tanzania after reports that three zebra died after falling into water trenches. AWF would like to provide the following information regarding this project.

Ol Tukai village is one of the two villages neighboring Manyara Ranch and specifically mentioned as beneficiaries in the title for the Tanzania Land Conservation Trust (TLCT).

A serious problem facing these pastoral villages is the availability of both ground and surface water after many years of drought. When rains do come, the ground is largely bare and so compacted that most of water runs off quickly and is lost.

One of the roles of the TLCT is to pilot the use of technologies and methods that may assist in the sustainable management of rangelands in East Africa, such as those around Manyara Ranch. The project in Ol Tukai was designed with technical assistance from the Westerveld Conservation Trust (WCT) in the Netherlands which specializes in innovative water harvesting techniques. A series of water trenches of varying sizes in a specific formation is used to capture and slow the run off from seasonal rains, allowing them to percolate slowly into surrounding land, restoring the water table, and re-hydrating the soils, and eventually improving surrounding vegetation. The project to pilot this approach in Ol Tukai was approved by village officials and was also endorsed by the Board of Trustees of the TLCT, chaired by Tanzania’s Prime Minister.

The recent death of three zebra in one of the larger water harvesting trenches is truly regrettable. At the same time, however, AWF and the TLCT are confident that the net benefit to zebras and other wildlife from the complete package of conservation projects being implemented in the area far outweighs this unfortunate accident. Hundreds of migratory mammals in northern Tanzania lose their lives crossing water ways each year in the natural course of events.

Following these zebra deaths, TLCT staff have consulted with Ol Tukai village members who were emphatic that they want to proceed with the water harvesting project and do not want the trenches filled in. As a mitigation effort to try to avoid further deaths, the villagers and the TLCT have agreed to construct a thorn barrier around the deepest water trenches. This barrier will be made using a thorny plant that has been invading the ranch, thus addressing an additional conservation issue.

For further information on this project or other AWF activities in the Maasai Steppe, please contact Dr. James Kahurananga at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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