Community-based tourism in Tanzania

Honeyguide Foundation (Tanzania)

In regions where human interference threatens ecosystems, the deployment of tourism may turn out to be part of the solution. Like other initiatives across the globe, the Honey-guide Foundation supports – with the financial assistance of the Trade for Development Centre – the development of sus- tainable tourism in the north of Tanzania. The local Masai population gets a financial incentive to protect its natural environment.

Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs)

In 1993, Tanzania created Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), where land is managed by the local population, which gets most of the benefits of the protection of the natural resources. One of 38 such WMAs is the Enduimet WMA, a large area of almost 1,200 km2 in the Longido district. It is bordered by
Kenya in the north, by national parks in the west and by the Kilimanjaro and its impressive snow-capped peaks in the south-east. This WMA is the habitat of many animal species; impressive herds of elephants also visit in search of water or food. The nine villages located within the Enduimet WMA are primarily inhabited by Masai.

Internal rivalry

For centuries, the Masai have lived harmoniously with their surroundings, west of the Kilimanjaro. But today, population growth and the improved standard of living have upset the equilibrium. Communities claim more and more land for agricultural and stock breeding purposes, and their need for raw materials such as coal and wood is continuously rising.
Farmers kill wildlife because they destroy their crops and poachers sell ivory or meat for the local market.

To reduce the pressure on the environment, the Masai, who are responsible for managing the Enduimet WMA, have put in place anti-poaching units and sustainable farming and soil protection techniques. A stable revenue from responsible tourism would encourage the community even more to protect its environment and natural resources.

However, for this tourism to be successful, the Masai need knowledge of the sector as well as capital and competences. This is where the Honeyguide Foundation, a Tanzanian NGO, intends to support the Enduimet WMA and its communities.

Honeyguide Foundation and TDC work together

The Honeyguide Foundation pursues a double objective: empowerment of local communities and the protection of wildlife and plants. To do so, it focuses on developing the tourism potential. For a few years already, it has put its expertise and experience at the disposal of the Enduimet WMA, in support of the local community to develop responsible and financially sustainable tourism businesses.

To put the region on Tanzania’s tourism maps again, the 30-month project first aims to develop accommodation and install seven camp sites managed by the local community itself. A practical booking and payment system, a map of the region and information panels will be developed for travellers. The Honeyguide Foundation also plans to help the Masai to develop tourism activities, such as mountain biking, wildlife spotting treks or donkey hikes. Tourists in search of local culture can stay in Masai huts, take part in traditional activities or learn all about medicinal plants.

Developing a tourism offer makes little sense when the strengths of the region remain unknown. Various means of communication are being developed: a practical website, brochures and a regional tourist guidebook.The WMA management will also be trained to meet the expectations, needs and feedback of travellers in terms of an improved tourism service.

 WMA Enduimet:Alternative tourism

The region has many strengths:

  • Lower entrance fee compared to other national parks.
  • No standardised safaris with everything organised from A to Z, but possibility for independent
    travellers to explore nature in the wild and off the beaten path
  • Extraordinary encounters with elephants;
  • Unique cultural experiences in Masai communities;
  • Unique views and sunsets because of the unique location between
    Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru.

 Who  benefits?

The 17,000 inhabitants of the nine villages in the WMA will all benefit, directly or indirectly, from the increased revenue generated by tourism. Some 300 to 500 inhabitants will be directly involved in tourism activities, with 60% Masai women selling products as well as food, providing the camp sites with water or providing donkeys for the hikes. The men will work as security agents and local guides.

10% of the revenue of the WMA will be transferred to an education fund to promote the education of Masai girls. And, of course, wildlife and nature will also receive better protection.