PRESIDENTIAL WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY ADDRESS RAISES EYEBROWS
President Kikwetes address on the occasion of the World Environment Day has raised more than a few eyebrows amongst the conservation fraternity, when on Tuesday this week he was quoted to have said: If we dont take remedial measures to conserve the environment, our lives and welfare will be in danger before adding we are our own worst enemies and God is not to blame for this as he referred to environmental degradation now widespread in Tanzania.
The speech prompted a flurry of comments and mails to this correspondent, not a single one failing to point to a previous article The Corridor of Destruction which refers in a broader context to the planned assaults on key bio-diversity hotspots in Tanzania between the town of Musoma at Lake Victoria to the town of Tanga on the Indian Ocean. In the article various dots were connected to show how extensive the aggressive nature of development and progress had become vis a vis national parks, ecosystems and forests. A rail project from Tanga to Musoma, a new harbour being planned in the middle of the Coelacanth marine national park, a highway across the most crucial migration routes of the Serengeti, the Lake Natron soda ash plant, the withdrawals of the Eastern Arc Mountains from recognition as a World Heritage Site to make the life of robber barons scheming for minerals and timber easier to accomplish, plans for Uranium mining in the Selous and the damning of the Rufiji River at Stieglers Gorge, affecting a very wide area in the Selous in the most intensely used tourism zone of the reserve have all been promoted and aggressively pursued by the government of President Kikwete, considerably lessening the impact of his address on Tuesday vis a vis his own personal commitment to environmental protection. Said one regular source in response: It would be a comedy if it were not so tragic. The president is asking development partners to support Tanzania in preventing desertification and yet his own government simply tramples on all which is dear to our conservation fraternity. Illegal logging is a cancer which has only increased of late and he asks for money for reforestation instead of cracking down on the wood poachers. Big game poaching goes on unabated as the WWF report last week clarified to the horror of conservationists and the promised countermeasures have not taken off at all. The various projects he promotes so keenly are all globally condemned for their recklessness and until Maige was sacked last month he insulted UNESCO time and again with misleading statements on the highway and by calling them inconsequential. There is a method and strategy behind all of this and we are not going to believe that he meant it seriously unless he lets go of some of these controversial issues and seeks consensus and broader agreement. Germany and the World Bank are ready to finance a southern road routing around the Serengeti which would serve a lot more people but there the entire thoughtline is exposed for the fraud it is. The planned route across the Serengeti is to serve mining interests between the Serengeti and Lake Vicoria, the Lake Natron soda ash plant too, so let us stop pretend that road is built for the people of Tanzania when it is for foreign mining giants. Yet, that offer has not been taken up as his government under his guidance clings on to the present Serengeti highway routing. Once it is built, promises or not, it will sooner or later be tarmacked, that is sure because the traffic projections on that road, compiled by government, are just showing how the numbers of cars will grow from a few hundred a day to thousands a day.
Controversy then instead of unity behind the common goal of environmental protection and the sustainable use of resources, and it comes as no surprise for those in the know of what is truly happening vis a vis conservation in Tanzania in recent years. Watch this space as this long running saga continues.
Archive for June 7th, 2012
PRESIDENTIAL WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY ADDRESS RAISES EYEBROWS
Emirates Kampala office has yesterday launched a range of attractive market fares, reducing by up to 48 percent the cost previously paid for by travelers, when a new aggressive sales campaign was started by the airline, lasting till Sunday this week with travel valid until 15th of July.
Khalid Al Zarouni, the Uganda country manager of Emirates, said in a communication availed to this correspondent overnight: Emirates is keen on providing our Ugandan customers with outstanding value for money and the most attractive travel experience available. Our special fares to some of Emirates most popular destinations in Asia and Europe represent a very significant savings, meaning that there has never been a better time to book a holiday, business trip or to visit friends or relatives overseas. By offering these discounted fares and free accommodation to passengers with a transit time of 8 hours or more, Emirates is demonstrating its investment in the total passenger experience and to ensuring that it is the airline of choice for all.
Asian destinations enjoying special fares include Bangkok from US $972, Bombay / Ahmdabad from US $668, Cochin / Bangalore / Kozhikode from US $986, Delhi from US $933, Dhaka from US $1066, Guangzhou / Hongkong from US $984, Kuala Lumpur from US $1866, Manila from US $2000 and Narita / Tokyo from US $2077. European cities on offer include London from US $977 and Istanbul from US $665. All fares cover a return ticket and are notably nclusive of all taxes, fees and fuel surcharges. Tickets can be purchased from Emirates sales offices or through authorized travel agents.
Several airlines flying in and out of Entebbe have in recent months, very likely as a result of the arrival of Qatar Airways in November last year, introduced new cabin layouts, improved inflight entertainment, offered added baggage allowances for economy and premium class passengers and upped their miles earning under the respective frequent flyer schemes, showing how intense the fight for market share and passengers has become, benefiting travelers with better services and competitive fares. Watch this space.
Abatigayubuke Batwa cooperative dances its way to a brighter future
by Munyaneza A.B (May 2012)
None of the Tourist groups knew what to expect every morning of the Dancing pots tour. This is the first time that the Batwa community associated with the Abatigayubuke potter cooperative had ever received tourists, visitors and hosts were brimming with curiosity and excitement.
Despite the fact that the Batwa are the oldest recorded human inhabitants of Rwanda, few people are familiar with their rich cultural heritage and history. In ancient times, the Batwa, also known as the Twa, were famous for entertaining the king, a job they received on account of their artistic and musical abilities. However, since the fall of the monarchy, they have been negatively stereotyped as physically and intellectually inferior to other Rwandans, in part due to their pygmy ancestry. The Batwa suffered disproportionately during the 1994 genocide like any other Rwandan. Today, there are only about 33,000 Batwa remaining, representing only 0.4% of the Rwandan population. Most live in extreme poverty, and while the government has officially recognized them as a historically marginalized people, local authorities have done a lot to support their communities; there have representation site in the lower chamber of deputies where their voice can be had for the first time in Rwanda.
Due to their celebrated skills as dancers, drummers, singers and potters, the Batwa have contributed substantially to Rwandas cultural traditions. Several Batwa communities are currently working NDA Rwanda called Dancing Pots to market their unique crafts, but New Dawn Associates (NDA) saw an opportunity to do more. Together with the Abatigayubuke Batwa cooperative, which is located in Kanama, 12 km from Rubavu (Gisenyi), NDA created a unique tourism excursion, designed to provide a responsible cultural immersion experience for the visitor and generate revenue for the cooperative and community. In order to buy costumes for the dancers and drummers and benches for the guests, NDA granted the cooperative a loan of RWF 510,000 (around US $1,000). NDA then negotiated the terms of payment directly with the community and agreed that for every group of visitors, the village as a whole would receive RWF 35,000. An additional RWF 10,000 would go to an educational fund and RWF 5,000 to an agricultural fund while RWF 30,000 would cover the expenses associated with serving the visitors soft drinks, bananas and maize. Performers who are members of the community would be paid RWF 12,000 for their participation. Finally, the community would receive an extra RWF 5,000 per visitor, meaning that for a group of ten, the community would receive RWF 50,000 on top of the money allocated for specific funds.
So what did happen during that first Tourist visit ? Participants report that the experience was overwhelmingly warm, joyful and enthusiastic. The delegates were welcomed by energetic drumming and dancing and shown how traditional pottery is made. After sharing food, drinks and expressions of gratitude, the visitors were able to purchase traditional pottery. Before leaving the village, the hosts where dancing once again this time together with their guests and curious visitors from the neighboring communities.
New Dawn Associates has brought tourist groups, consisting of 1,092 visitors in total, to the Abatigayubuke cooperative. A few years, in an effort to gauge the impact of these visits, NDA asked the community to reflect on what has changed since visitors began arriving. The responses were quite remarkable, with cooperative members saying that they are suddenly more respected by neighbors and local authorities than before. They get invitations to district meetings as well as visitors from neighboring communities who want to get a glimpse of their foreign guests. Of this, the Batwa community is extremely proud.
As a direct result of the income generated through tourism, the cooperative was able to purchase new school uniforms and shoes for all 60 children, Health insurance for all members and their families,three pieces of farmland and a roof for an elderly woman in the community. They also state that for the first time community members can afford to buy new clothes and even iron them, which goes a long way towards dispelling the image of Batwa as poor. One unprecedented event made the community especially proud: they were able to afford a wedding ceremony for a one of younger woman marrying a man from a more affluent community. Finally, the community has been able to put money in the bank, a fact that will allow them to respond to unforeseen circumstances in the future and the banks can now offer them loans through UMUREGYE SACCO.
Overall, the cooperative reflected on the experience of receiving visitors with both excitement and gratitude. We dont mind receiving them every day, says Cloude, the President of the Abatigayubuke cooperative. They have given us a lot of pride and we now value ourselves and the pottery.