TANZANIA (eTN) – Looking at best options and strategies to harmonize communities through tourism participation and benefit sharing, the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT) has organized a symposium in South Africa to discuss and deliberate issues arising from peace and tourism.
With a theme, “Cultivating Sustainable and Peaceful Communities and Nations through Tourism, Culture and Sports,” the event will be held from February 16-19, 2015 to attract key personalities across the world.
Topics and discussions to be arising from the IIPT Symposium will touch, among other African communities, the Maasai people who are the most affected community in the African continent through expansion of tourist wildlife parks and other services including tourist accommodation facilities.
Clad in traditional attire, the Maasai people in Northern Tanzania remain the only African community which strived to maintain their traditions and cultural norms for centuries, unchanged to match with daily global changes.
In the fast-growing towns of Tanzania, including the capital and commercial city of Dar es Salaam, the Maasai young people are seen vending through busy streets, selling merchandise and ornaments, strolling from one corner of the city to another, and attracting passersby buyers.
Women’s hair salons in Dar es Salaam and the northern tourist city of Arusha has as well hired and engaged the Maasai men to carry out plaiting activities, while companies has as well, hired the Maasai youths as day and night guards.
Maasai communities in East Africa are mostly living in tourist rich areas and where the land has been transformed into national parks, conservation areas, and hunting blocks.
In both Kenya and Tanzania, big chunks of the Maasai land has been converted into wildlife conservation and protection areas. Leading national parks in Kenya and Tanzania are located in Maasai areas.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Northern Tanzania has set a good example in which the Maasai communities are living and sharing natural resources together with wild animals.
Through good neighborliness, Maasai communities living inside the conservation area get a share of tourist incomes generated from tourists visiting the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, famous for wildlife, archaeological sites, and a biosphere.
Social service projects are currently being implemented inside the conservation area to benefit the Maasai communities there, and these include educational, health, water, livestock extension, and income-generating programs.
Spearheading conservation and community benefit sharing, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority have supported the Maasai women to establish a women’s income-generating initiative that is targeting to attract and activate womenfolk in development activities.
This Maasai initiative is charged with fundraising activities, training services to the womenfolk, and provision of education on better health, livestock keeping, and childcare services.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority has so far, allocated the women’s group initiative with a modern office with necessary equipment including computers and communication gadgets.
Seven Maasai homesteads known as cultural bomas have been developed for cultural tourism activities inside the conservation area so as to offer cultural services to the tourists visiting the area. These including locally-made jewelry and bracelets which are exposed and sold to the tourists as souvenirs.
Now, the Maasai communities are looking at tourism as an alternative income-generating activity to support their daily livelihood, other than a total dependence on livestock.
Prolonged drought in northern Tanzania coupled with rapid climate change, has severely affected the Maasai lifestyle of nomadic traditions, prompting them to seek better living standards, driving them to look at tourism as an alternative way of raising incomes.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Authority believes that good relations with communities would make wildlife conservation and tourism development there run smoothly through direct sharing of the tourist profit between both sides.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is located some 160 kilometers west of the northern Tanzanian tourist city of Arusha. Inside the area is located the famous Ngorongoro Crater, an idyllic nature and landscape of the crater – a 23-km radius of a huge caldera.
Through good neighborliness, poaching of wildlife in Ngorongoro Conservation Area has ceased, making this Tanzanian famous park the second in Africa where endangered and most hunted black rhinos are found roaming freely, after South African wildlife parks.