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Decision and policy makers capacitated on sustainable use of mangroves in the Pemba seascape

Pemba Island in Zanzibar is marked by a fringing coastline with a vast area of Mangroves which is about 19,200 hectares. These colossal mangroves, as much as they are important, are threatened. To help sustain the mangroves WWF is implementing a project on the sustainable use of Mangroves in the Western Indian Ocean Region. For effectiveness and impact on the ground initiatives go hand in hand with community awareness raising as at the end of the day the communities are the custodians of they important resources. This does not stop here, decision and policy makers are also key in maintaining the mangroves and hence a need to make sure they are also on board the initiatives.

This is an important activity that focuses on low-profile community levels which according to the Zanzibar governance structure embraces Shehia in the lower level followed by Wards and further up to district authorities before the Region at the apex.

The activity managed to cover all targeted 9 Shehia namely Shamiani, Mchakwe, Mwambe, Jombwe, Kiwani, Mtangani, Pujini, Chambani, and Dodo where Shehia leaders usually named Sheha and Village Natural resources related ecosystem committees leaders were sensitized in order to build up capacity at the community level. 

Community sensitization went further by mobilizing a relatively larger group of members of the community for the sake of a wider audience about the intended sustainable use of the Mangroves ecosystem in the Shehia. Amazingly a commendable number of villagers responded to a voluntary call which was made using formal Community media, usually an upatu(a special siren signal made of local material). Sensitization was introduced to the members by debriefing of   WWF organization and its functions worldwide focusing on Tanzania's perspective, particularly the project context and further down to the specific project objectives over the stipulated lifespan. 

As a mandatory rule members of the community in every Shehia were enlightened on how the project shall observe all mandatory environmental social safeguard framework(ESSF) regulations as well as predetermined complaints management mechanisms in the course of project operations. 

Community awareness and capacity building were Participatory tested by validation of some of the accrued information on challenges and best practices in the nearby mangrove forests proximal to the Shehia boundaries. This was done by visiting selected sites. This enabled ground truthing of the information on how healthy the Mangroves and other related ecosystems both marine and terrestrial. Such issues as ongoing mangrove degradation through unfriendly activities like illegal mangrove cutting, charcoal making, fish bait exploration, and salt mining activities were observed. Current livelihood activities in the Mangroves like beekeeping, mariculture, artisanal fishing, and mangrove restoration were vividly observed. All these led to an indication of the level of awareness by the community at the field level. 

Finally, WWF TCO convened a government-renowned meeting which featured an official opening by the District Commissioner Hon Hatibu Mjaja who appraised the WWF TCO's intent of raising awareness and capacity building to the District and that He shall give all necessary support during the project lifespan. As an indication of current Conservation efforts, the DC made an alert to concessioned investors to adhere to mangrove regulations as of now. A colorful closing of the meeting was made by the District Administrative Secretary of Chake Chake district who once again appraised the WWF TCO and urged continued capacity building to yet more higher levels during the project implementation period.

© Egno Ndunguru
Participants in group discussion