FAO Investment Centre

Water protection and tourism development in Tanzania

Veronica Jackson, a Tanzanian chef.

The Investment Centre helped design a USD 150 million World Bank-funded project to develop tourism in Tanzania. It was the World Bank’s largest environmental loan to a single country. The project supports the development of four major national parks and wildlife reserves in southern Tanzania – known as the ‘Southern Circuit’ – and promotes naturebased tourism.

It took three years to formulate the “Resilient Natural Resource and Tourism Management for Growth Project” (REGROW) and another year for the project to begin in June 2018. Each of the parks and reserves has its own characteristics and challenges. As a result, formulating the project was complex and required the involvement of many actors in its design and implementation to ensure transparency and inclusiveness.

One of the parks is the Ruaha National Park, East Africa’s largest wildlife park. Running through the park is the Great Ruaha River, the main water source for many animals, particularly elephants, during the dry season. Over the last 20 years, increased irrigation activities upstream have drastically reduced the availability of water for animals, even halting water flow for nearly two months each year, causing many wildlife to perish. To promote the park as a tourist destination with the promise of seeing animals, the issue of water availability had to be resolved. The project is introducing more efficient irrigation upstream and supporting a consensus-building process around land and water management and climate change adaptation.

Based on the results of a number of studies, four different governmental institutions are now working to protect the water sources, improve water use efficiency through better irrigation and create additional water sources in the park. In addition, a farmer field school programme was developed to explore new livelihood opportunities for various communities linked to the conservation of wildlife and landscapes.

Photo credit ©FAO/Paul Joynson-Hicks / FAO
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