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    Monday, June 10, 2024

    Tanzania: Tourism Players Rebuff Human Rights Abuse Allegations Against Tanapa

    Tanzania tourism leading private sector organisation has strongly faulted as unfounded recent allegations of human rights abuses by the country's conservation and tourism agency.

    The allegations raised by foreign-based non-governmental organisations, claim that, Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) forcibly evicted local communities from Usangu wetland within Ruaha National Park to pave ways for tourism ventures.

    In the course, the Tourism Confederation of Tanzania (TCT) along with Ruaha National Park tourism stakeholders forged a united front to express their unwavering support for TANAPA.

    They denounced the accusations as baseless and misleading. TCT Chief Executive Officer, Ms Lathifa Sykes, issued the statement emphasising that the claims distort the historical and factual context out of proportion.

    “This, we feel, is highly misleading in the realm of facts and history,” Sykes asserted.

    The controversy centres on the Usangu water catchment, which was incorporated into Ruaha National Park in 2008. TCT and Ruaha National Park tourism players find it perplexing that these allegations are surfacing 16 years after the annexation.

    Historical data indicates that by 2003, most rivers in Tanzania recorded flows at merely one-third of their 1988 levels.

    The decline was primarily attributed to agricultural and pastoral activities, not historic human habitation. The Great Ruaha River (GRR) was similarly affected, exacerbating the issue.

    The Usangu region's original pastoral community, the Wasangu tribe, historically had minimal impact on the area due to their low population and limited cattle numbers.

    GRR’s dwindling water flow severely affected Tanzania’s hydroelectric power generation, which supplied two-thirds of the nation’s electricity from dams situated downstream.

    The resultant water shortages led to chronic electricity deficits, disrupting industry, commerce and governmental operations.

    Additionally, wildlife populations within the park, such as buffalo, experienced significant declines during the same period, a fact documented by Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI)’s census.

    The population of German East Africa, which included Rwanda and Burundi, was only about eight million people in 1911 and that of Tanzania was nine million people in 1964 as opposed to over 61 million people at the moment, which is estimated to double come 2050.

    In addition to the population swelling, pastoralists alone in the Ihefu and Usangu water catchment areas are estimated to own between 3,000 and 7,000 each, let alone millions of other varied water users downstream the Great Ruaha River.

    Moreover, it takes 2,000 litres of water to produce a litre of milk, 5,000 litres a kilo of rice and 22,000 litres a kilo of beef; all of which lasting barely one meal to a Tanzania’s average household.

    “In this situation of Ihefu and Usangu catchment areas, the interventions of the government of the naturalresource-rich nation in the region and on the continent, if not in the world, should be understood among wellwishers,” the TCT CEO says.

    The massive unsustainable agricultural and pastoral malpractices justify the Tanzania government’s decision to urgently relocate pastoralists and their cows to elsewhere, says Lathifa, stressing that the alleged human rights abuses ought to be dealt with on case-by-case basis instead of ‘blanket’ statements.

    “As Ruaha National Park players, we never condone human rights abuses, but we rather encourage close and meaningful consultations between government departments and all stakeholders,” chipped in CEO of Hotel Association of Tanzania (HAT) Mr Kennedy Edward, explaining: “We do not consider punishing current and future populations for transgressions by a few individuals to anyone’s interest as the right thing, if such lapses did even take place.”


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