Forests represent a lifeline for the millions of poor Tanzanians living in rural areas, where they rely on forest products for fuel, food, income, and other uses. Despite this, forest destruction in the country is happening at an alarming rate of 400,000 hectares per year as a result of human-induced fires, illegal logging, conversion to agriculture and charcoal production. Previous illegal logging has stripped forests of valuable timber species, while regular forest fires caused by human activities prevent degraded areas from regenerating effectively.
Mpingo Conservation & Development Initiative (MCDI), WWF-Tanzania, Beautiful Cups and Kilwa District Authorities in Tanzania, are addressing this problem by building capacity to create incentives to rural communities to keep on conserving forests and the environment in general. In September 2019, MCDI has encouraged 2 Primary schools to establish environmental clubs in Kilwa District, Mchakama Primary school and Nanjirinji Primary school. These Environment clubs comprise of 60 voluntary students (15 are boys and 15 girls) form both Mchakama and Nanjirinji Primary school. The purpose of forming these clubs was to create awareness of environmental issues, such as protection, conservation, preservation, and restoration, with an emphasis on educating and empowering environmental education to the primary school students. Also, to instill a sense of responsibility for the environment and a personal commitment to protect and preserve the environment of their village.
Nanjirinji environment club enables members to actively lead and participate in the environmental activities and take personal action to contribute to climate change mitigation. The Club members are trained to become youth leaders who connect through formal efforts with other schools to create awareness about environmental related issues threatening such as cleanliness of water bodies, existence of biodiversity and earth’s natural resources.
Since the establishment of Nanjirinji environmental club, the students have responded well as most of them are good ambassadors to their parents and in the communities they live. As member of the Club, the Student act as a leading, ambassadors of environmental activities and events in school, identify and implement values-based environmental programmers’ within their school and community, Even forming part of network to share and communicate their environmental activities and ideas. This year the club started volunteering in raising Mpingo seedlings, planting trees in school compounds and they are wish in future to educate other primary schools around Kilwa District on the importance of environmental management.
Also, we noted that children are good influencers as they have a power to persuade someone on the thing which they think is important if they are well trained about it and make it easier to go and share it with their parents. When we visited these clubs, Twahila Hassan Chitundu, a chairperson of Nanjirinji Primary school environmental club, said “Now my parents are so happy as they are all sure that the environment will be well conserved and be assured to receive enough rainfall during planting season.”