They came, they saw, they conquered.

This is what can be said of residents who are willingly relocating from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) as they’re slowly but surely settling in, in their new surroundings at Msomera Village in Handeni District.

Clearing her seven acre farm, Ms Victoria Samuel Huho was among the first batch of residents that relocated to Msomera in September last year.

She was accompanied by her husband and their five children.

“I was so much worried when we were told that we had to leave NCA, I knew that all was lost after everything that we had done and achieved while living inside the conservation area,” she opens up.

The soft spoken mother reveals that they had to forfeit they lucrative business, a lodge that was built inside the man biosphere reserve, for Msomera village.

According to Ms Huho, they were told to demolish the 14-room lodging facility which was once located at Kimba village inside the NCA, as they prepared for their long and arduous journey to Msomera.

“This isn’t something that we were prepared for, but circumstances forced out to, and there was nothing we were going to do,” she says.

Being a pastoral family, Ms Huho recounts that they had to also take some of their livestock with them to the ‘promised land’. One year on, Ms Huho and her family haven’t regretted the decision an ounce. Having acquired land for farming, the household has cultivated a number of crops, including Maize, tomatoes, bananas, potatoes and vgetables, something impossible while residing inside the NCA.

Thanks to the drip irrigation system installed in their sizable farm, the household have managed to harvest 60 bags of maize.

“We were really taken aback by a sheer number of fellow vilages who come to us to buy crops, this wouldn’t have been the case at NCA, as we were restricted to farm.”

Excited by the prospects of farming in Msomera, Ms Huho and her husband have bought a New Holland tractor and they are also contemplating on acquiring more land for the same purpose, as they adjust to life at their house number 37.

Ms Huho is among more than 3,000 residents who have registered and voluntarily occupied part of Msomera Village in Handeni District, since the exercise started mid last year.

They’ve been accompanied by 15,321 livestock who have also been moved to the 400,000 acres of land. To reduce human activity at the UNESCO’s cultural heritage site of Ngorongoro, the government has been reviewing the land use system in the region.

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which includes highland plains and savanna woodlands, is multiple land-use area with wildlife coexisting with Maasai herders who practice traditional livestock grazing.

The government coordinated exercise has seen the villagers built houses and also given land for farming and grazing.

The government has also constructed water troughs for the villagers, a move that has seen them adjust to life in their new surroundings.

By 1959, NCA’s population was said to have been around 8,000. Today, the number of residents in the area is projected to have hit 110,000; adding pressure, and in fact, spelling doom the prospects of conservation and tourism activities in the Mixed Wild Heritage site.

According to Handeni District Commissioner Albert Msando, the government has put in place conducive environment in Msomera village, to accommodate the residents vacating the NCA.

He says that, all social services such as health centers, a police station, milk collection point and plunge Dips for bathing and treating livestock.

“They will not feel out of place once they get here, if anything; this is an ideal place for them as we already other Maasai and Datooga communities who arrived here in the 1970s,” the Handeni District Commissioner explains.
Mr Msando adds that all residents that relocated to Msomera from the NCA, will be issued with title deeds.

Talking of social services, Msomera now boast of a fully-fledged post office that has been put in place to facilitate mail services, such as accepting letters and parcels, providing post office boxes, and selling postage stamps, packaging, and stationery.

Before put in place, Msomera residents had to travel all the way to Handeni town to access postal services.

The small building, located at Olmoti area, also features post office boxes, numbering one to 109, with box number six, reserved for President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

“We are very happy with the presence of a postal office here, something we didn’t have while living in the NCA,” observes Martin Oleikayo Paraketi, Msomera Village Chairperson.

Mr Paraketi recalls how they used to travel from the NCA to Karatu to send or receive parcels and letters.
Next to the post office is a telecommunication tower built by the Universal Communications Service Access Fund (UCSAF).

The installation of the cellular tower has seen more than 90 per cent of Msomera village covered by second, third and fourth-generation wireless network respectively.

“Before the tower, we would move here and there in search of signal to call our friends and loved ones,” says Letee Ngoidigo, a Maasai tribal leader, who relocated from Misigio village within the NCA. Though he cannot recall his age, Mzee Ngoidigo still remember the brush with life he encountered on several occasions, at NCA.

“I remember coming across fierce wild animals on my way home, there were unpleasant scenes one wouldn’t have wished to have experienced,” he says.

In assisting the newcomers with grazing land, the government has also established a 10 acre demo plot at Olmoti area.

The plot contains Rhodes Grass, leafy and palatable and fairly nutritious, which is also used for grazing.
In combination with lucerne, it helps in improvement of soil fertility as it contains between eight and 10 per cent of crude protein and 32 per cent of crude fibre at fresh late vegetative stage.

Rhodes grass has been used extensively for pasture improvement because its seeds being easily available and being easy to establish and manage.

“We are very grateful to the government for training us on how to grow the grass to feed our livestock,” opines Yohana Singilo Moiyang, who owns 40 cows. Jeremiah Lazaro, applies two kicks to prime his SanLG motorcycle.
Behind him, is a passenger he’s about to ferry to the nearest shopping center. While staying at NCA, Lazato didn’t own a motorcycle as it was prohibited to ride one inside the protected area.

“I don’t regret relocating to Msomera because on a good day, I’m assured of pocketing 20,000/-, something unheard off back then,” says the 27 year old.

Thanks to its largely intact nature, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) a World Heritage Site in 1979.

The property has global importance for biodiversity conservation due to the presence of globally threatened species, the density of wildlife inhabiting the area, and the annual migration of wildebeest, zebra, gazelles and other animals into the northern plains.

Extensive archaeological research has also yielded a long sequence of evidence of human evolution and human-environment dynamics, including early hominid footprints dating back 3.6 million years.

Nonetheless, the booming population pressure, coupled by escalating challenge of human-wildlife conflicts is consequently impacting negatively on the ecological sustainability, food security, and economic viability of local people within and around NCA.

This problem is expected to worsen in the near future as the population of wildlife, human and livestock increases.

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