With Support from LCWT and USAID, Vikonge Village is More Effectively Managing It’s Natural Resources

Speeches Shim

Thursday, July 21, 2022
Athumani Kamsweke shows certificates of customary rights and occupancy from the intervention of the Jane Goodall Institute’s Landscape Conservation in Western Tanzania (LCWT), funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Just a short time ago, Vikonge Village was in poor condition. The village encountered environmental threats due to lack of land use plans, limited capacity in natural resource management, and an absence of modern technological tools to conduct regular forest patrols. Worse still, many members of the community did not know about the benefits of sustainable natural resources. This all changed when LCWT and USAID intervened, Vikonge Village was transformed. 

Athumani Kamsweke, a Vikonge Village Land Use Management (VLUM) Chairperson, is grateful for USAID and JGI support, and he explains, “Both community members and village government have been empowered with skills in good governance and natural resources management. It has funded and facilitated village land use plans in the village and now the villagers are more aware of compost, farms, water sources, forest reserves, schools, and other sustainable resources. People live in an orderly manner,” Kamsweke observed.

The local government has issued villagers with certificates for customary rights and occupancies for both settlements and farms, and Kamsweke stresses that the certificates will serve as collateral for loans from financial institutions to boost enterprises. He noted, “Land is more valuable now than before, and land conflicts among neighbors, farmers and pastoralists have significantly diminished.”

Before the LCWT interventions, the villagers had limited knowledge, and knew little about technology and capacity to manage the village's natural resources. Charcoal burning, bush clearing for farms, and unplanned settlements were common practices, and nobody bothered to control the natural resources.” notes Kamsweke.

LCWT and USAID have made it possible for village members to be empowered with vital resources such as the application of advanced technological equipment like smartphones and Survey123 apps to help forest monitors address threats by tracking and reporting incidents to the relevant authorities.

Ephraim Luhwago is a Tanganyika District Forest Officer who is very protective of our natural resources. He works with Vikonge village government to effectively manage natural resources by conducting joint forest patrols, enforcing by-laws for individuals who practice illegal logging, engaging in charcoal burning, and establishing farms or settlements in forest reserves.

Efforts are underway for Vikonge village government to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Carbon Tanzania to start selling carbon credits to compensate for greenhouse gas emissions and help fight climate change. “Upon its implementation, the village government will improve its financial capacity to effectively manage natural forest resources, especially Mnimba Forest reserve.” says Luhwago. He further elaborated that the village will raise funds for development activities such as dispensaries, health centers, classroom construction, and health insurance, to mention a few. 

According to Neema Mbuya, the LCWT field agent at Vikonge village, compost application has sustained the Mnimba Forest Reserve. Many farmers have deserted distant farms, and are shifting cultivation in favor of agriculture zones according to the Vikonge Land use plan. “Earlier on, farmers encountered soil infertility challenges on their farms.” She added that compost application has cut down shifting cultivation cases. 

The village government with development partners USAID through JGI are on the front line to promote compost application in demonstration plots and village meetings. As a result, many farmers have started adopting sustainable farming practices, including compost application, to boost soil fertility. “Many farmers make their compost with readily available materials,” she stated. Some schools have also started making compost and planting trees. Ifinsi primary school has made six (6) compost heaps and planted a thousand (1,000) trees to recover forest loss, she exemplified.

With so much progress in Vikonge village, it will be interesting to see which initiatives will be next.

Last updated: September 23, 2022

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