EXPERIENCES drawn from efforts to solve environmental challenges unearthed during the filming of a special documentary film, dubbed the ‘Great Zigi Crocodiles ‘have given birth to a five year project to conserve the River Wami Ruvu and River Zigi Basins.
The project, according to the Managing Director of the Tanga Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Authority (Tanga UWASA), Engineer Joshua Mgeyekwa is being implemented by the Ministry of Water and Irrigation in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
“Through that documentary, the concept of the importance of the research as amplified in the Great Zigi Crocodiles’ is being fully implemented in the new project by conducting research in the Zigi River Basin,” he revealed.
Eng Mgeyekwa said that the research include a study to identify how the Mabayani Dam that supplies water to Tanga residents has been affected by turbidity and assessing the volume of water in the dam. Other research concerns Environmental Flow Assessment which allows the authority to understand the volume, period, quality and trend of water required to preserve biodiversity in cool water and confluence with sea water.
“This includes sustaining the life of people and other species of life that depend on water from Zigi,” said Mgeyekwa.
The studies, he stressed, were important in helping availability, protection and management of water resource because they also consider how the common resident can increase their incomes through cultivation of various agricultural crops.
He said that various farmers were currently undertaking farming spices in an approach that conserves and preserves the environment. The film project which took off almost seven years ago and was officially launched in June 5, 2015 by the then Vice-President, Dr Mohammed Gharib Bilal at the climax of World Environment Day.
Which was held at the national level at Tangamano Grounds showed a general view on how the different human activities were contributing to the destruction of the environment in small rivers that feed into the Main River Zigi.
“This year’s water situation is a pointer to activities such as illegal gold mining, cultivation in slopes, haphazard tree felling and livestock keeping causing havoc to water users in the Tanga City,” he said.
The film originates from a commitment by the Tanga Regional Commissioner’s Office and Tanga UWASA to use historical research that was being conducted in Tanga to include research through a documentary into the causes of destruction of water sources.
The film aimed at sensitizing and encouraging the people of Tanga to take active part in measures to protect and conserve the Tanga City’s water source, the East Usambaras, now being threatened by human activities.
Tanga City receives its water supply from the 294 Square meter dam that was built through German support in 1979 about 20 kilometers northwest of Tanga City. According to officials about 10 percent of the dam has already been consumed by the typha weed and hyacinth, a direct result of siltation.
According to Mgeyekwa, the authority decided to use the documentary film approach after other measures failed to bear fruit . “The documentary demonstrates against the process of deforestation that is triggering massive desert across the rain-forests on the East Usambara Highlands,” Nyambuka said.
He added that crocodile attacks on humans within the designated dam of Mabayani and other areas of river are bringing this issue sharply into attention. The Great Zigi River Crocodiles documentary also critically examines the range of national water policy options available to discourage encroachment to water sources.
He said that the project received financial assistance from the German Technical Cooperation Agency (GTZ) which offered Sh. 23.5 million. The project also received assistance from the CRDB Bank (Sh. 5 million) while the host institution made available a total of Sh. 64.6 million for the filming project.
According to the Quality Assurance Officer, who was the Film Committee Secre tary, Ramadhani Nyambuka a lot of achievements have been made through revelations made by the film including the formation of Kihuhwi Zigi Farmers’ Environmental Conservation Union (UWAMAKIZI) and the establishment of Secured Watershed Services project.
“The presence of UWAMAKIZI and Secured Watershed Services project is aimed at reducing water loss and increase incomes of stakeholders who are participating in the protection of land, water and the environment in the Zigi River water source area,” Nyambuka said.
UWAMAKIZI was established in 2013 by five villages (Kimbo, Shembekeza, Mashewa, Bombani and Kwaisaka). The number of villagers involved in the association has increased from 473 to 610 by June, 2016 with the number of villages increasing from the original five to eight.
“A total of 3,196,174 have so far been planted in the UWAMAKIZI area and outside by June 2017 and the association has mobilised villagers to clean and repair water banks damaged through human activities,” said Nyambuka.
The new Wami Ruvu and Zigi River Basins Conservation Project is sustaining the achievements of conservation efforts pioneered by Tanga UWASA. It has contributed Sh. 80 million to the commencement of a clean water supply project created by the UWAMAKIZI that would supply water to three villages in Mashewa, Kimbo and Shembekeza.