Villagers get 54m/- reserved forest protection benefits

MEMBERS of the community surrounding Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park have been given over 54m/- as benefits of protecting the reserved forest. The money, a collection of six months starting from January to July, this year, was a continuation of the good relations between Park authorities and people living close to the reserve.

Since 1977, the Park management has been giving money to the community every six months each year, in an effort to involve them in conserving the forests. The handing over ceremony was held at the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources hall, Darajani, in stone town and was organised by Jozani Farmers Owners Organisation (JUWEMAJO) and Jozani Environmental Conservation Association (JECA) Pete Villagers.

The Ministry's Principal Secretary (PS), Mr Affan Othman Maalim, handed over cheques to members of the community and advised them to spend the money in development activities that could reduce poverty. The Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources has an agreement with the villagers to provide money to nine villages surrounding Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park, so that they protect the reserved areas used as tourism attraction site.

Before the agreement people were clearing part of the 5,000 hectares of natural forest for farming. The area was formerly owned by the villages that benefited from the payment. And the groups formed by villages surrounding the Park are, Pete, Ukongoroni, Chwaka, Bwejuu and UngujaUkuu, Jozani, Charawe, Kitogani and Michamvi in Unguja South Region.

Meanwhile, the PS has appealed to Pete villagers and UWEMAJO group to end the existing conflict between them and that the two parties should discuss together to solve their problems. Pete villagers and UWEMAJO have been at loggerheads over borders for six years now. Mr Affani, has however, advised the warring parties to bury the hatchet and withdraw their case from court and instead solves the dispute amicably, through negotiations so as to end the conflict.

In response to the advice, secretary of UWEMAJO, Mr Rajab Mchumi Omar, assured the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources that they will make sure they end the conflict as soon as possible.
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