Investing in pastoralists in Tanzania

by Rosalie Lehel

Pastoralist use their cattle to collect water
September 29 - Dodoma. During the dry season, we can only expect a period of water scarcity and dry fields. In the Dodoma region of Tanzania the situation is particularly alarming. The arid land is too dry to be cultivated, trees are rare and more importantly, there is not absolutely a drop of water in any of the rivers.

Villages in remote areas are badly connected to the roads, without direct access to basic sanitation systems and for most part of the year they have no access to water.  This means the people and livestock living in these areas are prone to diseases.

This adverse situation not only forces  pastoralists and their livestock  to walk up to six hours a day to get to the first source of  drinking water, it also is a source of conflict between pastoralists and farmers who continuously compete for land and water. This situation is often exacerbated by the lack of inclusive village land use and climate change mitigation plans.

The IFAD-funded Water and Health component of Agricultural Sector Development Programme – Livestock (ASDP-L), thanks to the support of government of Tanzania and the Belgian Fund for Food Security (BFFS) is helping to alleviate this challenge by constructing boreholes, shallow wells, rainwater harvesting structures, and other water delivery systems. These systems are providing clean and safe water to communities and livestock. The benefits of having direct access to water allow children to have time to go to school instead of walking kilometres to fetch drinking water. It is allowing pastoralists to improve their health and sanitation systems, thus decreasing the incidence of disease.
IFAD-funded project provides clean drinking water for the cattle
in Zanka village

To keep the water source sustainable and to monitor water usage, the villagers have set up water committees. People are charged for water usage and this typically depends on the number of cattle. The community uses the water fees to pay for the maintenance of the pumps and boreholes. Thanks to this model, both the communities and Government not only contribute to the maintenance of the infrastructure, but more importantly this has created a sense of ownership, thus ensuring the sustainability of the project.

The additional funds provided by the BFFS are complementing the sectorial support of the Tanzanian Government and are helping to meet the needs of the beneficiaries, especially the pastoralists who because of their nomadic nature and lack of access to natural resources are vulnerable.

The 2015 country strategy for Tanzania will take into consideration the lessons learnt from this project, and in particular the importance of targeting pastoralists. In December 2014 Tanzania will host the Africa Regional Workshop in preparation of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum at IFAD. The objective of the regional workshop is to exchange knowledge and experiences on good practices on indigenous peoples’ food systems and sustainable livelihoods and identify the key challenges and opportunities faced by indigenous peoples’ food systems. The Forum will allow IFAD to  consult and have a dialogue with indigenous peoples’  representatives.