Ujamaa-Community Resource Team (UCRT) is a non-profit environmental and social justice organization that works with indigenous groups of different cultures. We target communities that depend on communal resource management systems to support their livelihood.
We work to empower communities to secure legal rights over their lands and natural resources. We believe that building the skills, knowledge and management capacity within these communities and households is crucial for allowing them to take advantage of the economic and livelihood opportunities afforded by these resources. Together with our partners we help to enable communities to make wise and informed choices about how they manage their resources in a world where social and ecological sustainability challenges only continue to grow.
We are committed to catalyzing positive change in people’s livelihoods, promoting environmental stewardship and enhancing the sense of community. By empowering local communities to improve their livelihoods through sustainable resource management, we are helping protect our incredible northern Tanzanian landscapes and their socio-ecological heritage. Our approach addresses the fundamental interconnections between adaptively strengthening indigenous knowledge and practices, supporting rural economies and conserving biological diversity.
As an organization, all of our staff members come from the communities where we work. As a principle, all of our activities are formally structured as collaborations with communities. As a small team, we rely heavily on strong collaborative relationships with other likeminded organizations.
2. In your view, what does a successful model of community-based natural resource management look like?
I believe that when local communities are able to own, control, manage and benefit from the land and natural resources that surround them, then this is what will constitute a good model of community-based natural resource management.
3. And What will it take to get achieve that model?
It’s going to be a long-term journey because our government controls most issues regarding natural resources, without direct benefits to the local communities.
4. At the community level, what do you see as one of the main challenges facing livelihood security?
I actually see three major challenges:
- Government bureaucracy in approving land use plan documents
- Contradiction of laws and policies, e.g. Village land Act and Wildlife Act
- Corruption in some government systems
5. How is UCRT trying to address this challenge?
In regards to land use planning, UCRT is now working closely with district officials at all stages of planning in order to make them understand the process. This will help ensure that during the approval of documents the officials will not raise unnecessary questions.
With contradicting laws and policies, UCRT is working with communities and elected leaders to influence and change of these unfavorable laws and policies.
Finally, in collaboration with other UCRT likeminded partners working at regional and national level, we are trying to deal with corruption by making our government accountable to citizens and raising awareness about the effect corruption has on communities.
6. How can an organization like Maliasili Initiatives most effectively participate in efforts directed at CBNRM and sustainable livelihood development?
Mobilizing resources is very helpful. We need to build strong communities that can raise awareness on natural resource issues, and this can be done through community natural resource management trainings, local and international study tours, and helping local communities understand their rights to land and natural resources and develop bylaws to assist in local governance.