This article will tell about “Tanzania’s social, environment and economic status and the people of the Swahili Coast, in particular Marine and Coastal Environment Management Project (MACEMP)” which has been in used in the Indian Ocean for several months.
A coincidence is a coincidence. But, some coincidences, to borrow a word from geometry, are more congruent than others. In the echoes of the 45th Tanzania Mainland independence anniversary celebrations, an equally deserving coincidence took place, but went unnoticed. Now four months later, that very coincidence even befits a superlative attribute as one of the most congruent illustrations the 42nd anniversary celebrations of the United Republic of Tanzania can take on board. What a double hit!
Symbolically, on December 12, 2005, a mariner, ‘m.v. MACEMP’, a joint Tanzania and, World Bank venture, officially set sail on a six-year cruise assignment in the Indian Ocean to assume the country’s marine and coastal environment management affairs. The dimensions of the assignment entail the establishment of a system that will ensure sustainable resource use of Tanzania’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and its associated territorial seas.
On the one hand, the US$ 61 million (6.1billion/-) Marine and Coastal Environment Management Project (MACEMP) has its essence in supporting the United Republic’s efforts in managing the EEZ and coastal resources for sustainable use to improve Tanzania’s social, environment and economic status with the livelihoods of the coastal people in the forefront. On this very note, there could be nothing better for the coastal communities with which to celebrate four and half decades of independence. But it went unnoticed.
Come April 1, 2006, media experts in Tanzania, in the footsteps of an earlier stakeholders consultative meeting, discussed the project’s Development Communication Strategy (DCS) and its importance to MACEMP elevating its process onto another platform. So, on the other hand, as the country marks the 42nd anniversary of the United Republic of Tanzania, MACEMP again stands the chance of going unnoticed when it is, in fact, the most recent and prominent fruits and proof of the usefulness of Union. MACEMP is as environmental as it is a constitutional affair. Article 27(1) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania says. in part, “Every person has the duty to protect the natural resources of the United Republic of Tanzania…” At the time when certain quarters are questioning the relevance of the Union, here is MACEMP out in the field, operating under the umbrella of respective government ministries on the Mainland and Zanzibar, performing a union constitutional duty for the benefit of the country and the coastal communities. This alone must be enough to make the bones of the founders, the late Julius Nyerere and Abeid Karume, shake in pleasure at this point in time.
MACEMP is not out of the blues. It will be furthering the national component of the Regional Monitoring and Surveillance (MCS) Programme funded by the European Union. The MCS is a regional programme of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) whose implementation started in Tanzania towards the end of 2001. It is from the background of the MCS programme that one can trace the roots of the other inputs into the making of the MACEMP acronym.
The MCS was assigned the duty of building institutional capacity and equipping both sides of the United Republic with trained sea fishery inspectorate, sustainable IT support and a wide range of operational initiatives. Through its aerial patrols, it was to ensure that no foreign fishing vessel entered the 12-mile limit area reserved for the artisanal fishing communities along the coast and at the same time no foreign fishing vessel entered the 200-km Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) without a license.
There is nothing cheap about anything that involves aircraft use. But, expensive as it was, the programme bore fruit. One, its impact was so much felt that it became newsworthy for even the foreign fishing-related media. Two, it proved that Tanzania’s all along veneration of inland fisheries had no real basis. Data revealed that during the peak fishing season, up to 10,000 tons of tuna worth hundreds of US$ millions being caught in Tanzania’s EEZ per week by EU-registered fishing fleet. There are also fishing boats from Asia. The United Republic of Tanzania has an EEZ area of 240,000km2.
So, there is enough data to show that the marine sector is a very valuable national economic asset, to use the words of the man under whose guidance the control and surveillance operations were undertaken. Commander Ian Shea was quoted in the media as saying “the marine fisheries now occupy the centre stage and the signs are that various ministries with an interest in the EEZ will pool resources to enable more cost-efficient patrolling in a sustainable manner…” The MCS programme won the hearts of the World Bank to get involved in a larger undertaking, which is none other than the current MACE MP.
Like any resource, marine and coastal resources in Tanzania have come under big pressure in the background of unsustainable exploitation means, lack of alternative income sources for respective communities, unclear property rights and visionless development. This has been made worse by weak governance framework, inadequate institutional capacity and cross-sectoral coordination.
Downloaded on the fisheries sector this translates into higher fish demands in the background of illegal practices and degradation of the supportive habitat. Foreign fishing fleets over exploit off-shore commercially viable species without due regard to their values to the local economy.
On society, this spells out the letters of poverty. This explains the national special strategy for growth and National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (NSGRP), popularly known after its Kiswahili acronym, MKUKUTA. The programme sets its eyes on reducing negative impacts on the environment and people’s livelihoods. Conservation of forests and aquatic ecosystems are form part and parcel of the targets. In pursuit of the marine and coastal targets, the regulatory aspects have been adequately addressed, leaving the gap of the institutional capacity to policy implementation.
By Peter Temu