Environmental conservation, resilience and collaboration between refugees and host communities

The bigger picture – How DRC concomitantly contributes to environmental conservation while boosting resilience and promoting a collaboration between refugees and host communities in north-western Tanzania.

The effects of climate change and environmental degradation will increasingly drive displacement and conflict in the EAGL region. While DRC is adapting its programming to meet the emerging needs of people of concern, the organisation decided to go further and embrace resilience-design approaches that not only reduce its projects’ environmental footprint but also contribute to the regeneration of ecosystems, all while boosting resilience.

In an effort to boost resilience, livelihoods and to contribute to environmental conservation in Tanzania, DRC is implementing a 3-year, energy and environment project funded by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Implemented in the Kakonko, Kibondo, and Kasulu districts of the Kigoma region, the project works with host communities and refugees to address two sides of the same coin: the need to protect and contribute to the conservation of the environment and the need for alternative source of energy for cooking, all while contributing to livelihoods for local communities and skills building of refugees.

Reforestation: Some of the key milestones include:

590 individuals from refugee camps and host communities were trained on forest management, good agricultural practices, and climate-smart agriculture in anticipation of the establishment or strengthening of 17 tree nurseries in the three districts.

In the last quarter of 2021, the nurseries produced close to 600,000 tree seedlings – three times the project’s target – to meet the need of the community and government. In addition, 400,000 tree seedlings were distributed and planted by 1,766 community members and refugees. The value of the trees will increase over time, and each eucalyptus tree is expected to have a value of USD 30 in five years.  

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Distribution of tree seedlings to beneficiaries in Kibondo districts.

Photo: Mgalla/DRC.

Bio-briquettes as an income-generating alternative to firewood

DRC recruited 246 members of the host communities to work in char production centres. In addition to providing new skills and an income to participants, this activity delivers the natural raw materials for the fabrication of bio-briquettes, which in 2022 will support t 13,000 refugee households.

The bio-briquettes are an efficient alternative to firewood that can safely be used for cooking in energy-saving stoves, better for the environment and safer for women who no longer have to walk long distances to fetch firewood. The production of bio-briquettes, for which the value will increase as the law preventing the chopping of firewood is enforced, will grow thanks to the recruitment of 100 refugee trainers and therefore substantially reduce the need for firewood for refugees and host communities.

The Danish Ambassador, Ms. Mette Nørgaard Dissing-Spandet, said, “we are pleased to support this project, because it will improve access to and use of bio-briquettes as alternative energy for cooking. This will make a difference not only to the environment but also to those women and girls who would be less at risk when they do not have to go and collect firewood for cooking. As more than 750,000 trees are expected to be planted the project will directly contribute to afforestation and with additional training on environmental protection and bio-briquette production it will present micro- and small-scale business and income generating opportunities especially for vulnerable people.

“I believe the key to this project is that it looks at the bigger picture. It addresses the urgent need to protect the environment, find alternatives to firewood and generate income. We work hand-in-hand with local communities, refugees, the Ministry of Home Affairs, and local authorities to make sure that the project revolves around their needs,” says Stephan Deutekom, DRC’s Country Director.

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Beneficiaries engaged in Char powder production activity in Nyaruyoba Village in Kibondo District.

Photo: Alex/DRC

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