Sustainable future in Tanzania: Mkuru Training Camp is located 8 Km from Arusha National Park, within the Meru-Kilimanjaro ecosystem, which is, in turn, sited within one of the most important biodiversity areas of the country: the Maasai Steppe, a territory traditionally inhabited by Maasai nomad shepherds and extending for more than 200,000 km2 within the East African Rift Valley, from the Turkana Lake, in Kenya, to central Tanzania.
From Mkuro Training Camp is possible to reach the Arusha National Park in 20 minutes and in few hours the most beautiful National Parks of Eastern Africa: Mkomazi, Kilimanjaro, Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro and Serengeti.
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Challenges to conservation and development
In Tanzania 89% of its population still lives on less than two dollars per day and more than 14 million people have no access to safe water.
The Meru-Kilimanjaro area is no exception: over the years, the Mount Meru forests and fertile foothills have been over-exploited to meet the needs of a fast-growing population.
Despite the fact that most of the catchment forest is preserved within Arusha National Park, human encroachment is very high and the agro-ecosystems are becoming increasingly vulnerable to rainfall shortages, droughts and climate instability.
Consequently land degradation and soil erosion are reducing the natural assets and Mount Meru’s capacity to provide the ecosystem services that lie at the heart of the livelihood of the local people is declining, as is demonstrated by the recurrent food crises (2005, 2007 and 2009) and the increasing conflicts over resource use.
The MTC experience aims at maintaining the Mount Meru natural capital capacity to satisfy local needs and at promoting strategies and technologies able to ensure that the rural population can make a living out of its environment without depleting the natural capital.
The Meru-Kilimanjaro ecosystem is providing environmental services that are vital for at least 290,000 people. At the same time, the system is intrinsically fragile and this fragility is exacerbated by climate change hazards, inappropriate land management practices and the increasing pressure on natural resources due to population increase.
These constraints, associated with poor technical knowledge and assistance and lack of land use planning, are causing concrete challenges to the economic and ecological sustainability of both agriculture and livestock keeping and are threatening livelihood to such an extent that out-migration is rapidly increasing, especially among young Maasai.
A thorough understanding of the main hazards to the long-term conservation of the ecosystem is a pre-condition to the development of a strategy capable of addressing the major environmental challenges and guarantying a future to the local population.
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