In Tanzania, the World Environment Day (5th June 2009) was marked nationally in Tabora town where the Guest of Honour was Hon Dr Ally Mohamed Shein, the Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania. Tabora town is the nearest city center to the Mbola Millennium Villages site.
At the event, the Mbola Millennium Villages project had the opportunity to highlight local environmental efforts. MEMBO (Maendeleo Endelevu Mbola or literally Mbola Sustainable Development) group was among the groups which participated in the Uyui pavilion to demonstrate what they are doing to conserve the environment through tree planting and conservation as well as processing local forest fruits into edible products like juices, jams, wines, pickles, etc. Processing local fruits allows the community to be aware of the many valuable trees available in their areas, covered by Miombo woodlands, and thereby helps to teach the Mbola community to avoid the wild fires and unsustainable trees cutting that is normally done when opening more agricultural land (shifting cultivation) or providing fuelwood for curing tobacco, timber production, charcoal making, etc.
The Project also had an opportunity to display various modern lanterns and cook stoves which are in the process of being introduced and tested in the Mbola Cluster. The efficiency of the modern cook stoves reduces air pollution and cuts consumption of charcoal. The solar charged lanterns also reduce indoor air pollution by eliminating the need to burn lamps for light.
During the World Environment Day event I also had the opportunity to meet several national partners who deal with environmental issues. These included the National Environmental Management Council and the Vice President's Office responsible for the environment, who wanted to know more about the Millennium Villages initiative.
Sandy Eapen, a New York-based Millennium Villages project staff member who is in Tabora for three months on special assignment on solar lanterns, also attended the event. She said, “It was very exciting to experience World Environment Day here. I was really impressed with both the diversity of environmental issues promoted by various community organizations and the enthusiasm from people of all ages in learning about conserving the environment, in areas of energy, agriculture, water, and more. For example, many people were interested in knowing how to purchase the solar lanterns and cook stoves that MVP was introducing into the villages after hearing about their benefits. Having the presence of the Vice President of Tanzania, who took the time to visit all the booths, also helped signify to the community the importance of the day.”
Gerson Isaac Nyadzi, PhD is the UNDP Science Coordinator & Team Leader for the Mbola Villages Cluster. He is based in Mbola, Tanzania.