Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania on Tuesday, May 30, 2023.
Amnesty International accuses Tanzania of human rights violations in Loliondo
A new report by the human rights group Amnesty International has accused the government of Tanzania of “ill-treatment, excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and forced evictions against members of the Maasai Indigenous community” in Loliondo, Arusha.
Released on Tuesday, The report, We Have Lost Everything: Forced Evictions of the Maasai in Loliondo, Tanzania, details how authorities forcibly evicted the Maasai community from Loliondo on June 10, 2022.
Amnesty International alleges that security forces violently and without due process removed the Maasai community from their ancestral lands in Loliondo, leaving 70,000 people without access to the grazing lands that their livelihoods depended on.
Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, said in a statement that the report reveals how Tanzania’s security forces resorted to the use of brutal force when evicting the Maasai from 1,500 square kilometres of their ancestral lands in Loliondo.
“It also highlights total disregard for due process and free prior and informed consent of the affected Maasai people in the decision-making process that was used to justify the forced evictions,” Chagutah said.
Authorities were not immediately available on Tuesday to respond to these allegations. But according to a report by Voice of Nigeria, Legal and Constitutional Affairs Minister Damas Ndumbaro has dismissed the report as “misleading,” saying police had acted calmly despite locals confronting them with crude weapons.
“Our police behaved very professionally in last year’s demarcation exercise,” Voice of Nigeria quoted Ndumbaro as saying. “They did not react because they respect human rights.”
The government has always insisted that its “relocation” exercise in Loliondo and Ngorongoro is being conducted in line with the country’s laws, dismissing all reports of human rights violations in the exercise.
In its report, Amnesty challenges the Tanzanian authorities’ claim that their actions are necessary to conserve the land and biodiversity. It calls on them to ensure Indigenous peoples are offered leadership roles in conservation, allowing them to protect the land using their traditional knowledge, as they have done for generations.
Chagutah called on the government to recognise and fulfil the rights of the Maasai to their ancestral lands, territories, and natural resources. He reminded the government of its duty to abide by the international and national obligations to protect the rights to adequate housing, peaceful assembly, free prior and informed consent, and non-discrimination.
“The Tanzanian authorities must conduct thorough, impartial, independent, transparent and effective investigations into all alleged human rights violations, including the killing of police officer Garlus Mwita, the enforced disappearance of Oriaisi Pasilance Ng’iyo, and the mass arbitrary arrests and indiscriminate killings of Maasai community members,” he said.
“They should also probe the role corporations played in the forced evictions in Loliondo and provide access to justice and effective remedies to victims.”
Researchers develop smartphone app to enhance midwifery care in Tanzania
An international research team from Tanzania and Japan have created a smartphone app and conducted a pilot study of how the app might be used to improve midwives’ knowledge and skills in Tanzania, Medical Xpress reported on Tuesday.
The study focused on the app’s potential effects on the learning outcomes of midwives and the birth preparedness of pregnant women in Tanzania. The team’s work has been published in the journal PLOS ONE on March 31, 2023.
Yoko Shimpuku, a Graduate School of Biomedical and Health Sciences professor at Hiroshima University, told Medical Xpress that the smartphone app for midwives showed significant improvements in their learning outcomes, leading to better birth preparations for pregnant women in Tanzania.
“This study highlights the potential of leveraging technology to enhance midwife education, ultimately contributing to maternal health and addressing high maternal and child mortality rates,” Shimpuku was quoted as saying.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), only 51 per cent of pregnant women have four or more antenatal care visits. WHO recommends at least eight visits during pregnancy.
The study included 23 midwives who participated in the testing and provided learning outcome data. Their results showed that 87.5 per cent of the midwives continued to study with the app two months post-intervention.
There were 207 pregnant women included in the study. The intervention group of pregnant women had significantly higher knowledge scores and home-based value scores than the women in the control group, where the app was not used.
This home-based value score indicates that the higher the score, the more women tended to prefer giving birth at a health facility instead of at home.
Shimpuku told Medical Xpress that the ultimate goal is to develop additional apps targeting pregnant women and their families, while accumulating robust evidence on the app’s long-term effects and effectiveness through further research.
“This aims to enhance overall understanding and awareness of care from pregnancy to postpartum, ultimately improving maternal health,” said Shimpuku.
United Nations steps up efforts to build climate resilience in Tanzania
The United Nations has launched a three-year project to improve communities’ resilience to climate shocks in the Kigoma region – where hundreds of thousands of refugees are hosted.
The initiative, which Belgium funds, is jointly implemented by the government of Tanzania, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and the World Food Programme and partners under the Kigoma Joint Programme, aims to reach 2.3 million people in Kasulu and Kibondo districts.
The project will focus on protecting, conserving, and restoring degraded ecosystems while safeguarding biodiversity and building community resilience and adaptive capacities, with some activities extending to refugees, such as tree nurseries and planting in and around the camps, supporting kitchen gardens, and small-scale mushroom production to improve household nutritional status.
Being part of the Kigoma Joint Programme, the project responds to the government’s regional priorities, and UNHCR, WFP, and partners are working closely with local authorities in its implementation.
Officiating the launching ceremony on Tuesday, Kigoma regional commissioner, Thobias Andengenye, said the government recognises the impacts of climate change and the importance of adopting resilient strategies.
He cited the government’s launch of the Ten-Year Strategic Environmental Conservation Plan, launched in May 2022 during the World Environment Day celebrations, as some of the initiatives the East African country was taking to address impacts associated with climate change.
“The plan aims at meeting the government’s directive of each District planting 1.5 million trees per year and supporting the ambitious goal of eliminating the use of charcoal and fuelwood by 2025.” Mr Andengenye said.
“The region aims to honour these strategic goals set by the central government,” he added. “We believe this project will set the required pace in that direction.”
The project is of UNHCR’s continuing commitment and efforts to mobilise support for environmental protection and restoration in refugee-hosting areas. It also addresses protection concerns for refugee women exposed to various risks as they venture outside the refugee camps searching for fuelwood.
Mahoua Parums, UNHCR Representative, said: “The project will not only greatly support refugees and their host communities’ resilience in the face of the impacts of climate change but also bolster UNHCR’s efforts in implementing environmental conservation, protection, and restoration activities in the refugee camps and the host surroundings in Kigoma.”
The UN said in a statement that as communities in Kigoma, including refugees, continue to rely heavily on destructive means to meet their energy needs, the UN supports durable energy solutions, moving the energy transition forward.
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