Tanzania’s Conservation Efforts Suffer Further Setback as EU Withdraws Funding

Tanzania's Conservation Efforts Suffer Further Setback as EU Withdraws Funding
Maasai herders graze their cows in the Ngorongoro conservation area.

Concerns about suspected violations of human rights have led the European Union Commission and the World Bank to take important choices that may affect Tanzania’s efforts to conserve its wildlife. More specifically, Tanzania’s eligibility for a proposed €18.4 million grant meant for East African biodiversity protection activities was recently revoked by the EU Commission. This judgment comes in the wake of ongoing disputes over the forcible evictions of Tanzania’s native Maasai people from the Ngorongoro and Loliondo regions—actions that have come under fire for allegedly making way for an expansion of conservation tourism.

Due to these concerns, the funding will now only benefit Kenya’s ecosystems, and new criteria will emphasize the rights of indigenous communities in specific places to be protected. A $150 million conservation and tourism development project in southern Tanzania was also denied funding by the World Bank earlier this year while inquiries were conducted into claims of human rights violations related to the project.

The EU Commission has revised the parameters for its NaturAfrica program, notably leaving out Tanzania but maintaining assistance for Kenya. This action demonstrates the Commission’s dedication to supporting sustainable economic growth, inclusive governance, and conservation in East Africa. The initiative prioritizes inclusive governance, environmental activities, and the green economy, emphasizing a human rights-based approach. In order to protect the rights of beneficiary communities, it also requires the establishment of human rights policies, grievance procedures, and Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC).

Local and international critics have long denounced Tanzania’s resettlement programs, citing concerns over the treatment of Maasai communities in particular. They contend that these policies violate indigenous rights and compromise sustainable land management techniques. Tanzanian officials, however, maintain that these resettlements are lawful under national law and that no single ethnic group owns all of the land.

Through community empowerment and engagement, the NaturAfrica initiative seeks to safeguard biodiversity, improve the management of natural resources, and unleash economic potential. The EU Commission has sided with advocacy organizations like Maasai International Solidarity Alliance and Survival International, which have long fought against what they see as the unjust appropriation of indigenous lands for conservation and tourism, by barring Tanzania from its most recent funding round.

Tanzania’s tourist industry, on the other hand, has grown significantly in recent years and continues to be a major part of the country’s economy. Tanzania’s 22 national parks saw a large increase in revenue, which was indicative of a larger recovery in travel after the COVID-19 pandemic.

These funding choices have significant effects on Tanzania’s larger tourism-based economic initiatives in addition to its conservation efforts. The further examination highlights how important it is for the international community to strike a balance between conservation objectives and respect for indigenous rights and sustainable development methods in areas with abundant wildlife, such as East Africa.

In conclusion, despite Tanzania’s struggles to secure international money for conservation, the discussion around land rights, conservation tactics, and economic development is still ongoing and has important ramifications for Tanzania as well as its neighbors in East Africa.


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