I met with PALISEP representatives twice on my recent trip to Tanzania. The first meeting in Arusha with Samwel Nangiria and Robert Kamakia reviewed the requirements for volunteer support through the Kesho Trust that would be intended to build the capacity of the newly formed Forest Trust which has now been granted full responsibility for the management of the community forest by the Tanzania Department of Forestry. Setting up such an activity requires some careful consideration of the specific nature of the work in relationship to the capacity of the host organization. Realistic expectations are essential on both sides. Hosting an outsider in villages such as Enguserosambu comes with a number of logistical problems as well such as language [an interpreter is needed throughout the work period] and the very basic living conditions [water being an especially critical concern]. Samwel and Robert have always been very positive about the potential for such work to be very helpful in the community but they are also realistic about the capacity of the Forest Trust which, while made up of extremely competent people, is just beginning to work together as a body and currently lacks the confidence and independence it hopes to achieve in the future. They are also keen to ensure the logistics supporting the volunteer are addressed. They understand the needs of outside visitors relative to the challenging living conditions in the village.
In a follow up meeting in Dar es Salaam I was joined by our Project Officer, Peter Millanga and together we met with Robert and Saitoti Kitasho from PALISEP. Since the first meeting a specific terms of reference for the volunteer had been drafted and was tabled and discussed at the meeting. Since PALISEP is a supporting organization to the Forest Trust, they will now sit with the Trust members and review the details of the proposed work and its implications for the community and the Trust itself. It is expected that the assignment will be undertaken in March / April, 2015. Robert also outlined at this meeting PALISEP’s intention to host a planning meeting in mid November in Arusha that would consider future program initiatives and funding support for PALISEP. They are keen to have partners attend the workshop and so Peter plans to attend on behalf of the Kesho Trust.
In both meetings the status of the I-CAN project was discussed. As a research program including a study area of the Enguserosambu village area and based directly on our partnership with PALISEP, this program will be instrumental in providing support for the work of PALISEP and the Forest Trust. The project is just mobilizing now and the directions and local implications will become clearer over the next few months.
Another item discussed was an opportunity to present the land rights issues and success stories from Enguserosambu village. I will be attending the WPC and have been invited to participate in a discussion panel focused on pastoralist issues relating to land rights, climate change and other pressing concerns. With the support of PALISEP I will be able to take the experience of PALISEP and present it at the WPC creating more awareness of both the achievements and the ongoing struggles for control over the land and culture by the Maasai of Enguserosambu.
The meetings were productive and certainly advanced the proposed collaboration. There will certainly be more news coming from this partnership in the near future.