Matumizi Bora ya Malihal Idodi na Pawage (MBOMIPA), Swahili for “Sustainable Use of Wildlife Resources in Idodi and Pawaga,” is an association of 21 villages in the Pawaga and Idodi Divisions of Iringa District in central Tanzania. MBOMIPA works with over 50,000 people on sustainable natural resource management and anti-poaching. The association established a community-run wildlife management area (WMA) in 2007 and promotes wildlife-based livelihoods as a means to ensure biodiversity conservation. Revenue generated from the WMA is split among member villages and is invested in healthcare, education, and infrastructure.
MBOMIPA is Tanzania's biggest community-based wildlife management association. The WMA comprises 777 hectares of land along the southern border of Ruaha National Park, with many of the charismatic African mammals found in the Park and WMA. The WMA also includes hot springs, waterfalls, and caves that are tourist attractions.
The villages within Pawaga and Idodi are made up of different tribal groups, including the Hehe, Gogo, Bena, Kinga Kosisamba, Maasai, Barabaig, Mang’ati, and Sukuma. Agriculture and livestock are the primary sources of livelihood and subsistence crops include maize, millet, sorghum, and rice.
The poaching and wildlife trade problem
Species affected African Elephant Loxodonta africana , Lion Panthera leoProducts in trade
Various, including ivory and rhino horn.
Overview of the problem
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Tanzania lost half its elephants and nearly all of its population of black rhino from poaching, and other species were similarly affected. Poaching continues today throughout Tanzania although at a reduced level.
The anti-IWT initiative
In response to large-scale poaching, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism amended its wildlife policy to allow community participation in wildlife management, including through the establishment of community-based WMAs.
The assumptions underpinning WMAs are as follows:
1. Devolved control over wildlife will allow communities to retain benefits from activities such as ecotourism and trophy hunting
2. Improved livelihoods from these benefits will generate greater community support for conservation
3. Improved management practices and community support for wildlife will lead to reduced illegal activities
4. Wildlife populations will recover, providing communities with long-term and sustainable benefits
MBOMIPA was legally recognised as a community-based organisation 2002, becoming the first indigenous conservation and development organisation of its kind in Tanzania.
It is governed by a general assembly, who appoint four committees to oversee planning and finance, discipline and tourism, law enforcement and infrastructure. Members from these committees form the executive committee, which is responsible for implementing the association’s day-to-day activities and decision-making.
The objectives of the association and the WMA are:
- To conserve and use the natural resources, particularly wildlife, forests, and fisheries, in the WMA and the 21 villages
- To provide awareness and education on the environment, natural resources and on vital issues such as disease
- To provide amenities such as schools, hospitals, dispensaries, water, and other social services
- To market products produced from the WMA
Between 2010-2012, USAID also funded a program that created more than 100 full-time and temporary jobs in the villages. The program upgraded the infrastructure of the WMA and included the construction of village game scout posts, the installation of boundary markers and gates, the creation of visitor centers and improvements to roads.
Since 2018, the Southern Tanzania Elephant Program has supported Village Game Scouts (VGS) in MBOMIPA WMA. The three teams patrol for at least 21 days each month and are provided wages, food and fuel supplies. All the patrollers use GPS to map coverage and outcomes, and to measure and enhance patrol effectiveness.
Strengthening disincentives for illegal behaviour
37 village game scouts are employed full-time by the WMA. Having been trained in wildlife management and conservation practice, the game scouts main role is to patrol the WMA and keep peace in the villages.
Each scout is issued with a uniform and is responsible for ongoing monitoring of wildlife populations as well as changes in vegetation. Scouts also focus on preventing illegal logging and theft of honey from beehives.
Meetings are held in the villages to sensitise adults to the value of conserving wildlife and to familiarise villagers with the rules and laws governing both the WMA and Ruaha National Park.
Increasing incentives for wildlife stewardship
Within the WMA activities include photographic tourism, general tourism, and trophy hunting.
Tourism establishments provide employment for many MBOMIPA villagers, most importantly for women and the youth. Villagers also participate in the sustainable collection of medicinal plants.
Decreasing the costs of living with wildlife
There are designated specific agricultural and livestock zones in the buffer zone of the WMA in an effort to reduce conflict with wildlife. In addition, living fences are used to support food security by protecting crops from elephants and other wildlife.
Increasing livelihoods that are not related to wildlife
Beekeeping and traditional worship and cultural activities are generally permitted within each zone.
The presence of tourists and resident hunters has also spawned a number of micro-enterprises in the village including bars, grocery stands, and craft shops.
Profits from the WMA are invested in health, infrastructure, and education.
Build/and or support sense of community ownership or stewardshipFurther detail
The purpose of the WMA is to manage an effective and sustainable wildlife management system under the community authority.
Improving education and awarenessFurther detail
Environmental education programs in village primary schools teach children the value of conservation from a young age.
In 2014, the “Strengthening the Protected Area Network in Southern Tanzania” (SPANEST) project launched a soccer tournament in MBOMIPA villages as a way to raise awareness of poaching among youth. The competition works as part of a broader initiative addressing wildlife crime, including meetings, workshops, local media programs, and targeted publications, providing youth and the community with opportunities to share their views on how to address poaching.
Has the initiative made a difference?
The WMA has generated income and jobs from hunting and tourism, with surplus income invested in local infrastructure, which has improved community wellbeing.
As a result, farmers now have better access to markets for their crops, and wells have provided villagers with potable water. Profits have also been used to fund dispensaries and towards the construction of a health centre, which has increased access to basic health services and resulted in reduced mortality among pregnant women and newborn babies.
A secondary school was built in the village of Idodi, significantly increasing the number of children receiving education at this level and between 2008-2011, the MBOMIPA was able to support the education of over 40 orphans.
The establishment of agricultural and livestock use zones has reduced human-wildlife conflict and provided an example of how to integrate communities and communal land in landscape-level approaches to protecting biodiversity.
The benefits received by the villagers are gradually changing attitudes towards conservation and wildlife as members see the impact of wildlife profits being invested in community projects. Villagers have also changed land management practices in an effort to avoid further human-wildlife conflict, for example, have begun to plant chilli peppers for fences to protect from crop raiding by elephants.
The VGS patrols resulted in the arrest of 13 suspected poachers in 2019, greatly enhancing the security of the WMA. In addition, the amount of wildlife sightings recorded by VGS on their patrols increased from 2018 to 2019.
What works and why
MBOMIPA’s constitution highlights the importance of including women in leadership and decision-making positions. Ecotourism has provided women with greater income-generating opportunities, specifically in the production of handicrafts. Their ability to produce their own sources of income is empowering because it increases confidence, independence, skills, and social status.
One of the goals of the MBOMIPA Project logical framework, formulated in 1996, was that a new wildlife policy is implemented effectively during the project period and this goal was met within two years.
MBOMIPA is a legally-recognised WMA working in collaboration with the Tanzania Wildlife Division and the Tanzania National Parks Authority and this legal framework provides the association with legitimacy. This is a crucial building block for its future sustainability. MBOMIPA’s partnerships with local government authorities and local NGOs have furthermore enhanced its ability to sustain itself.
Factors for success
Supportive national policy/legislation for devolved governance of natural resources
Coordinated and coherent sectoral policies/legislation (For example, land use planning, agricultural etc...)
Supportive, multi-stakeholder partnerships with a shared vision
Devolved decision-making power so local communities have a voice in creating or co-creating solutions (as part of the initiative)
Organisers, donors and partners
Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism’s Division of Wildlife
Tanzania National Parks Authority
UK Department for International Development
World Wildlife Fund
Wildlife Conservation Society
Iringa Regional Authority
Rufiji Basin Water Authority
For further information contact (firstname.lastname@example.org).