Posted on 29 October 2019

In October, Youth across Tanzania gathered at the Mpilipili Grounds in Lindi Municipal Council, for the 7-day event hailed as the Youth Week. The Youth week which has been commemorated annually since 2000 is marked along with the remembrance of the late President Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere. This year WWF Tanzania joined the youth celebrations in collaboration with four youth champions from its programmes in the Ruvuma Landscape (RLS) under Sida funded Leading the Change Programme. WWF participation in the event aimed at amplifying youth contribution and inclusion in natural environment conservation while at the same time, to create youth platform.
The Southern part of Tanzania, the Selous-Ruvuma Landscape, is one of the fast-growing regions and rich in natural resources. Unsustainable land-based investments, population growth and increasing market demand for natural resource-based products are for the most severe threat to its biodiversity.
The advent of global climate change has also resulted in unpredictable climatic conditions undermining livelihoods and biodiversity. These growing pressures threaten the sustainability of biodiverse beyond the capacity of existing conservation programmes.
Speaking during the week, the Ruvuma Landscape Coordinator James Nshare said the future security and viability of RLS and Tanzania’s natural environment and its ability to support nature and people lies with the youth. Hence, WWF works work with youth to enable them to leverage knowledge, opportunities, technologies and most importantly, their collective voices influence the future of natural environment conservation. In the process of empowering them we are also learning groundbreaking innovations youth are coming up with and support them. We here to showcase the work of the youth in our intervention to prove youth are change agents.
’ To sustain youth inclusion WWF is also developing youth capacity. As an organization, we have dedicated resources to empower youth to strengthen their ability to conserve the natural environment they depend upon. Through our interventions we are equipping youth with needed skills and knowledge to stop the degradation of the natural environment and create resilience to climate change. To sustain our work and the future, we call on the Government, NGOs and local communities to do the same. Let build the youth capacity and create spaces for them to make and influence decision-related to the natural environment. Our future is shaped by how we prepare our youth today’’ the Coordinator remarked.
Over 250 youth who visited the WWF Pavilion learnt about the conservation of natural resources across four thematic areas: forest, marine, wildlife and climate and energy. Through discussions, the youth provided their various perspectives to the creation of lasting solutions to the threats facing the Landscape.  The young people were also inspired to act as torchbearers and engage with their peers and decision-makers to ensure the sustainable conservation of the RLS.
For humans to exist, we need the natural environment. Youth have a duty of care! I applaud WWF for promoting youth inclusion and capacity development. I am among the youth in leadership position along with others, we make the decision, and even in patrols we lead. As future leaders, and we are learning and contribute to formulating solutions related to forest natural resources management. Our early involvement makes us more resilient to future challenges arising from natural environment’’ says Ramadhani Chiinde (28) who is Natural Resource Committee (NRC) Member from Nanjirinji A Village,Nanjirinji Ward,Kilwa District.
“WWF and MCDI have supported my village to conserve and certify its forest. We since have collectively benefitted from the sell of timber. Without the forest my village won’t be having classrooms and a teacher’s house, we won’t be capable of giving our people health insurance and access to maternal care to the women in our village; we won’t have water wells. It’s all nature-given! I am happy to be among the youth who are changing the world by conserving natural environment. We are catalysts, and we hope to encourage other youth to see they have the power to change things in natural environment conservation. I hope our leaders acknowledge youth contribution in natural environment conservation and promote on youth inclusion in all development agenda.” he added.
The youth week was concluded by a strong speech from the President of the United Republic of Tanzania Dr. John Magufuli who called on all Tanzanians to refrain from corruption which he said is a killer of all the development in the country.
Most popularly was the quote from the late Nyerere on natural resources conservation from the 1961 Arusha Manifesto where he said, "The survival of our wildlife is a matter of grave concern to all of us in Africa. These wild creatures amid the wild places they inhabit are not only important as a source of wonder and inspiration, but are an integral part of our natural resources and our future livelihood and well being. In accepting the trusteeship of our wildlife we solemnly declare that we will do everything in our power to make sure that our children's grand-children will be able to enjoy this rich and precious inheritance.

The conservation of wildlife and wild places calls for specialist knowledge, trained manpower and money, and we look to other nations to co-operate with us in this important task - the success or failure of which not only affects the continent of Africa but the rest of the world as well."
Youth listening attentively to one of the facilitators
© Diana Shuma