UNESCO backs Maasai displacement from Ngorongoro

UNESCO backs Maasai displacement from Ngorongoro

The government’s current proposal is to relocate the Maasai from Ngorongoro to Handeni in the Tanga region. However, the idea has been vehemently rebuked by domestic and international activists, citing violations of human rights despite the government’s emphasis that it has observed human rights on the whole process.

The Jamhuri newspaper of March 15, 2022, page 02, reports that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) supports Tanzania’s government to relocate the Maasai living in the Ngorongoro conservation area.

In its consecutive annual UNESCO reports, from 2007 to the latest 2022, UNESCO reiterated their call to vacate the Maasai living in Ngorongoro and remove all residents of NCAA officials and hotels and lodge workers from the park following the substantial environmental damage the park has incurred.

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Read more: Will evicting the Maasai preserve or destroy Ngorongoro?

Ngorongoro may lose credit.

Professor Hamis Malebo, a secretary for the national commission of UNESCO of Tanzania, said Tanzania has an obligation to protect UNESCO’s world heritage, and the agreement strictly forbids distractions contributed by human activities.

Prof Malebo said at different times, UNESCO dispatched teams, i.e.The International Council of Monuments Sites (ICOMOS), The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), from Paris to investigate the situation upon the co-existence between humans and wild animals Ngorongoro. 

Both concluded that there is an imbalance between community development, tourism and conservation within Ngorongoro. The community in Ngorongoro lack alternative livelihood and poor social services, the situation dragging their lives into despair.

Has NCAA violated the UNESCO agreement?

According to Prof. Malebo, the current situation in Ngorongoro has already violated some of the UNESCO agreements that may put Tanzania on the edge of losing UNESCO’s world heritage status. i.e.

  • Agriculture
  • Lack of administration and poor control of population 
  • Poor control of interference between domestic animals and wild animals
  • Development of infrastructure within the park, such as unofficial roads
  • Bodaboda within the conservation area
  • Building of permanent residencies
  • The intrusion of foreign plantations

Furthermore, UNESCO recommends to the government to provide motivation that would influence the vacation of the Maasai from Ngorongoro. However, Prof Malebo did not justify whether the current government’s strategy to vacate the Maasai aligns with UNESCO’s proposal as there have been various reported cases of forceful evacuations.