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Fireworks at Kansalaistori Square, Helsinki, to celebrate a century of Finnish independence (Photo: Finland 100)

Fireworks in Helsinki, to celebrate a century of Finnish independence (Photo: Finland 100)

Finland supports proper land use in Tanzania

Like other countries around the world, Tanzania is facing climatic changes and environmental degradation challenges. Deforestation and improper uses of land are among the problems that impact environmental preservation in the country. And strong policies and laws are required to ensure environmental preservation for better future. To this end, the Tanzanian government is collaborating with various stakeholders at home and in the international community to promote, strengthen and sensitise citizens to participate in efforts aimed at environmental preservation and proper land use.

The country's National Environment Management Council (NEMC) came into being in 1983, when the Government of Tanzania enacted the National Environment Management Act No.19 (1983). Although the enactment of Environmental Management Act No. 20 (2004) in October 2004 repealed the 1983 legislation, NEMC was re-established by the 2004 statute and continues to this day. It is quite clear that the Council's efforts have borne fruit - in terms of raising public awareness, interests and action. So far, more than 159 community-based organisations (CBOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been formed to combat environmental degradation and support efforts aimed at preserving the environment.

The Finnish at work in Zanzibar

Amid the efforts undertaken by the government of Tanzania and its people in preserving environment, the Finnish government has been a strong and reliable partner in supporting and financing various programmes that are designed to help realise well-surveyed land and preserved forests. Finnish support goes back to 1991, when the Scandanavian nation's government established a strong cooperative framework in Zanzibar, a Tanzanian island - through the Zanzibar Integrated Land and Environment Management project. In 2005, positive Finnish collaboration continued with the Sustainable Management of Land and Environment (SMOLE) project, which was aiming at supporting land registration in the island. And, this year, the Finnish government has supported introduction of second phase for SMOLE, by which further and massive land registration is planned to take place.

The Finnish Ambassador to Tanzania, Ms Sinikka Antila, said, “We see it a very important investment in the development of Zanzibar and its people.”

In March this year, the Ambassador and the President of Zanzibar, Dr Ali Mohamed Shein, participated in the launch of a land registration scheme for the island - with the government of Zanzibar looking forward to registering at least half of its plots by 2015, under the Zanzibar Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty. The Ambassador gave President Shein a map of Unguja and Pemba at the launch event for the land registration scheme.

Zanzibar’s principal land secretary, Mr Ali Halil Mirza, said as the scheme was launched that the land registration project, which is financed to a significant extent by the government of Finland, would improve land use in Zanzibar for urban development, settlements and agriculture. He appreciated the Finnish government's commitment to a sustainable future for the people of Zanzibar, and to the future of Tanzania at large. He confirmed, also, that Finland and Zanzibar had begun work on land issues in 1983, and that the Zanzibar maps are a product of Finnish mapping projects.

Land use possibilities and programmes 

Ambassador Antila assured the public that Finland has provided financial guarantees for the surveying of at least 70,000 plots by 2014. She said, “The budget for registering 100,000 parcels has been estimated at one million Euros. The whole support to SMOLE is nine million Euros.” 

The Finnish government also supports improved land sector management on the Tanzanian mainland. The Ambassador said her government was looking forward to supporting village land use planning in a number of villages over the coming years.  

“We are also looking at possibilities for twinning-type cooperation between Tanzania's Ministry of Lands and the National Land Survey of Finland. Surveying of village land and community-owned village land forest reserves are part of land use planning in all our forestry and agriculture programmes,” said Ambassador Antila. 

Apart from land surveying and proper uses, the Finnish government is committed to supporting the government of Tanzania in forestry and in environmental conservation. Finland has been very active in the conservation of forests - especially, in supporting sustainable management of forests. However, one of the key issues is the tenure of forests. Although the Forest Act (2002) allows community, group and private ownership of forests, most forests are still owned by the central government - which does not have the resources to manage them effectively. Ambassador Antila said the winning alternative would be to devolve user rights and empower the people living near to forests (and actually using them). She said the current tenure regime incites corruption and unsustainable management.

Finnish Ambassador to Tanzania, H E Sinikka Antila stresses a point during an Interview with this writer at the Finnish Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; in the middle is the embassy programme officer, Ms Kaisa Alapartanen

A commitment to sustainable management 

Tanzania, which has land area of 885,800 sq km, still has extensive forest cover - most of which is savanna woodland and montane forest, and scattered patches of lowland forest. These forests are increasingly threatened by fire wood and charcoal collection, due to the shortage of cooking energy in rural areas - as well as by commercial felling of timber and the expansion of agriculture in unplanned areas. Under this situation, the Finnish government has focused on ensuring support to those committed to the sustainable management of natural resources and preservation of forests. The Ambassador told this writer that the Finnish government has extended support to the East Usambara Conservation Area Management Programme (EUCAMP), for example, which has resulted in the establishment of the Amani Nature Reserve (in the Tanga region, which is located in the Northern part of Tanzania). 

So, Finland has supported an environmental study, stopped all loggings, and works within the EUCAMP programme. The Amani Nature Reserve is one of nation's biodiversity 'hot spots', and Finland’s support has also been directed to its adjacent communities, which are now key partners to the reserve.  

“By preserving the Amani forest, which is important water catchment area, Tanga town has managed to provide water to her residents,” said the Ambassador. 

Ahead of the Tanzanian general budget for 2013/2014, the total Finnish Official Development Assistance (ODA) was confirmed at around 40 million Euros. In strengthening cooperation, Tanzania is expecting a visit by two Finnish ministers between 22 and 24 May this year. Ambassador Antila said the visit demonstrates the emergence of a new type of partnership between two countries - a broader collaboration combining both development and trade. The two ministers are Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala and the Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade Alexander Stubb. 

“As the European economy is showing slower signs of growth, emerging economies like Tanzania continue to expand. Many Finnish companies are looking at Africa as a new potential market, especially in the area of knowledge economy – ICT, cleantech, e-learning, as well as energy and minerals,” said the Ambassador. 

Florence Mugarula