Environmental conservation as a social process: the case of HADO project in Kondoa district, Tanzania

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University of Dar es Salaam
In August, 1973 a soil conservation project Hifadhi Ardhi Dodoma (HADO) was established in Tanzania. Though the project was meant eventual1y to span the whole of Dodoma Region, initially it was concentrated in the Kondoa Eroded Areas (KEA) - apparently the most eroded area in the country. The approach of the project to the problem of soil erosion in the KEA was basically technical, involving the construction of contour lands, check dams, production and distribution of seedlings and tree planting. In October, 1979 the project successfully destocked the KEA using a 1968 district by-law. Technically speaking, the project has so far been a great success. Vegetation has regenerated and sediment transports in the rivers have decreased. The sand rivers have been stabilized. The river coarse have become narrower and more stable thus creating extra land for agriculture. However, this technical success does not seem to have been well received and/or appreciated by the people of the KEA. Up to the time of this study the soil conservation measures introduced were still being undertaken amid an atmosphere of hostility and clandestine opposition, especially so from the agro-pastoralist Rangi in the KEA. Acts of arson to conserved vegetation were common while illegal grazing and tree cutting was rampant. At times this opposition had even led to murder. This dissertation attempts to find a sociological explanation to the problem of why a technically successful programme for saving land resources for a people should have been met with such hostility and opposition from the very people it was meant to benefit. Using both historical and empirical data three possible explanations are tested in this study. These explanations are presented in the theses that: (a) Institutionalized environmental management is essentially a social process. It determines and is reciprocally determined by the relevant course of social life. This relationship is continuous unless there is an external interference in the concerned ecosystem. (b) The failure of the KEA people to come to grips with the deteriorating condition of their environment is therefore, construed as resultant of the historical process whereby the indigenous local level institutions that had traditionally performed the coordinating and regulating functions in environmental resource use had been super ceded by supra local socio- political institutions and interests that were not necessarily promoting prudent environmental resource use. (c) The top-down approach brought to the sociopolitical scene in Tanzania, in general, and to Kondoa District, in particular, by the various political regimes also facilitated the use of the same approach by HADO and other soil conservation programmes elsewhere. This top-down approach.has conversely forced the super ceded local-level institutions to operate in the underground, focusing their attention on resisting the conservation programmes rather than on evaluating and appreciating their advantages. The fact that there exist different degrees of opposition and resistance among the people to the project is explained by applying the concept image discrepancy to the relationship between the HADO project and the KEA people. Conflict resolution in this respect is seen to depend to a large extent on the reduction of the image discrepancy between the two conflicting parties.
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Hifadhi Ardhi Dodoma, Soil conservation, Kondoa District, Tanzania
Mung'ong'o, C. G. M (1990) Environmental conservation as a social process: the case of HADO project in Kondoa district, Tanzania,Masters dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at ( )