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Matching decent work, growth and environmental sustainability in the Uluguru mountains

The Uluguru Mountains rise majestically, yet peacefully, beside the city of Morogoro, reaching from the end of town all the way up the clouds. The mountain is inhabited by the Waluguru tribe, who use a matrilineal system with land ownership through the female line. Women are powerful in village life, however, many men have left the mountain villages to seek fortune in town while women and elders have remained. Having lunch in the home of the Ward Commissioner, a woman involved in local autority as well as agriculture, we learned about the challenges of trying to accomplish progress for the local community on the mountain while also having to deliever news about lacking funds for building roads to neighbours.

The future of Uluguru mountain villages seems uncertain, with men and youth moving out to seek fortune in town, contributing to a national (and global) trend of urbanization. In Tanzania, urbanization is moving at a fast pace, with its business capital Dar es Salaam being the fastest growing city in Africa.

Tanzania has over the last decade had an annual GDP growth averaging 6-7 percent, moving the country towards its goal of becoming a middle income country by the year of 2025. However, one big issue of the country’s growth is that it has not been inclusive. While the national average GDP growth was 7% in 2016 and Tanzania’s poverty rate fell from 60% in 2007 to an estimated 47% in 2016, based on the US$1.90 per day global poverty line, about 12 million Tanzanians still live in extreme poverty on earnings of less than US$0.60 per day, and among them 10 million live in the rural areas. Many others live just above the poverty line and risk falling back into poverty in the event of socio-economic shocks. The GDP growth has not been an inclusive one. Even though there are reports of emerging signs of increased participation of the poor in economic growth, outside of Dar es Salaam an important proportion of the population remains unable to fully benefit from the economic prosperity of the country. Heads of households with less education and a large number of children and who are engaged in subsistence agriculture and living in communities lacking infrastructure are likely to be the poorest and many of them will pass on their poverty to their offspring. Economic growth must be inclusive and sustainable in order to succeed with Sustainable Development Goal number eight.

Innovative local farmers in the mountain villages, growing strawberries, bananas and various vegetables, use the concept of terracing on the hillsides and have developed irrigations systems to keep the crops growing, using water coming down the streams and rivers of the mountains. However, according to a Journal of Political Ecology article from 2017, the irrigation systems are cause for conflicting views, as some mean they are a harmful use of nature and prevent water from reaching Morogoro and Dar es Salaam. The article also states that local farmers using irrigation systems have been pressured to abandon their livelihoods and move.

Efforts have been made to create a sustainable situation by a joint CARE-WWF Programme (2006-2011), which promoted an agreement between downstream buyers (the industrial water supply and sewage corporation DAWASCO and Coca Cola Kwanza Ltd) and the upstream sellers from mountain villages. Farmers received payment for the adoption of agricultural practices aimed at controlling runoff and soil erosion, while improving their crop production.

Equitable Payments for Watershed Services (EPWS) is part of a broader concept of Payments for Environmental/Ecosystem Services (PES) which means the beneficiaries (recognized as buyers) of environmental/ecosystem services should compensate or reward those who provide or play a role to guarantee continuous flow of such services (who are recognized as sellers of the services). The EPWS programme in Tanzania intended to ensure a sustainable flow of watershed services to beneficiaries into the future via a mechanism that promotes conservation practices, and in turn alleviate poverty to land managers. For a successful and inclusive implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, ensuring both environmental sustainability aswell as decent work and economic growth, innovative solutions are often needed. The strategy of PES is only one example.

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About the Author : UNA Tanzania

The United Nations Association (UNA) of Tanzania was registered in 1964. Our work is devoted entirely to the support of the "purposes and principles of the United Nations” in Tanzania and across the world.

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