Dar es Salaam. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has generously donated US$29.5 million (Sh47 billion) to support conservation efforts led by the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) in western Tanzania.
This contribution marks another step in USAID’s ongoing collaboration with JGI to uphold conservation initiatives in Tanzania and worldwide, to preserve the fragile ecosystem and safeguard endangered chimpanzees.
JGI is in the final stages of a five-year, US$19.9 million (Sh45 billion) project known as the USAID-funded Landscape Conservation in Western Tanzania (LCWT) activity.
The official signing ceremony for the grant was held in Dar es Salaam on August 16, 2023, and was graced by Dr Jane Goodall and the US Ambassador to Tanzania, Michael A. Battle Sr.
The USAID Tanzania Mission Director Craig Hart and the Jane Goodall Institute Tanzania Executive Director Freddy Kimaro signed the grant documents on behalf of their respective institutions.
Ambassador Battle noted that this funding would be transformative, directly benefiting local communities residing within the conservation areas of the Kigoma and Katavi regions.
“This forms a strategic part of our efforts to steer American funding and business focus towards Tanzania’s growth, ultimately benefiting Tanzanians,” remarked Ambassador Battle.
Goodall stressed the urgency of taking action to preserve the chimpanzee ecosystem.
“Time for action is now. This necessitates close collaboration with the neighbouring communities, empowering them economically and involving them in conservation activities like tree planting,” noted the renowned 89-year-old English primatologist and anthropologist.
Mr Hart noted that the grant’s allocation would encompass activities such as natural resource management, family planning, and measures to counteract climate change’s impacts on communities and wildlife.
“As part of our conservation endeavours, the project would enhance the local population’s income through environmentally friendly coffee farming and honey production,” he explained.
According to Mr Kimaro, this marks the first instance of USAID funding being directly channelled to JGI Tanzania.
“In the past, USAID funds were routed through JGI’s global headquarters in the US. However, the decision to directly donate the funds to JGI Tanzania underscores the confidence the US government places in us, and for that, we are grateful,” acknowledged Mr Kimaro.
JGI operates in several other African countries with chimpanzee populations, including Burundi, DR Congo, Uganda, and the Republic of the Congo.
The USAID-JGI partnership for western Tanzania primarily focuses on safeguarding endangered chimpanzee populations, preserving their habitat through effective land use planning, and empowering local communities by promoting more productive livelihoods within the Gombe-Masito-Ugalla ecosystem.
This ecosystem is home to over 90 per cent of Tanzania’s estimated 2,200 chimpanzees.
To date, this collaboration has enhanced the management of 1.43 million hectares of ecologically significant areas, establishing two Local Authority Forest Reserves: Tongwe West (365,000 hectares) and Masito (156,000 hectares). Additionally, the partnership has contributed to restoring the Gombe-Burundi wildlife corridor, which houses about 22 chimpanzees.
The USAID funding has resulted in nearly 253,000 people benefiting from improved economic advantages from sustainable natural resource management and biodiversity conservation.