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What It Takes, Part III: Sharing Revenues from Conservation

This example is the third in a series of stories about benefit sharing.

Villagers trade crop harvest for share in park proceeds in Zanzibar, Tanzania

Project: Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park
Location: Zanzibar, Tanzania
Type: Sub-national level CBNRM
External Partners: Government of Zanzibar through DCCFF
Facilitator/Implementing-Monitoring Agency: Originally, CARE International; now none
Other Parties: Farmers’ and village councils, farmers’ association, and Community Development Fund
Community Stakeholders: 9 local villages (about 14,000 villagers) and 99 farmers

Red Colobus monkeyThe Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park (JCBNP) in Zanzibar, Tanzania, is rich in flora and fauna, including the Red Colobus monkey, and is a lucrative source of tourism. The Park includes forests, mangroves, and private farm plots. For years, nearby villagers’ use of wood fuel and charcoal depleted the forest, and farmers killed monkeys that ate their crops.

To control these practices, CARE International facilitated an arrangement between the government of Tanzania and nine villages closest to the Park whereby the villagers and farmers would agree to refrain from killing monkeys and collecting wood illegally in return for rights to use natural resources and a share of the profits made from entrance fees paid by tourists visiting the Park. The goal was to provide villagers with alternate sources of income and compensate farmers for not being able to farm in some areas.

Conserving the Land and Sharing Profits

In 1995, the government of Tanzania created the Jozani-Chwaka Bay Conservation Project to preserve the forest and lay the foundations of a future park. The government agreed to give the village councils enhanced control of resources in designated “buffer zones” around the area demarcated to become the park in exchange for halting farming and wood-gathering in the designated “core zones.”  CARE International engaged the local communities in the project, identifying nine councils whose inhabitants could benefit from joining a profit-sharing scheme, and helping them create Village Conservation Committees (VCCs). CARE also engaged the Department of Commercial Crops, Fruits and Forestry (DCCFF) and Park officials to lay the groundwork for a profit-sharing scheme, put in place in 2000, whereby the villages and farmers were allotted a portion of the money collected from an $8 Park entrance fee. The money was funneled through an NGO called JECA, created by the VCCs to represent their interests and determine which village projects to fund with the proceeds from the Park fees. The JECA also linked the VCCs and village councils to external partners to support projects through a specific community development fund and to generate alternative methods of income, such as beekeeping and micro-credits.

From 2000 to 2008, the beneficiaries split the Park proceeds so that the Park and the DCCFF each received about one-third of the proceeds from entrance fees. The treasury got 14%, and the farmers and the development association split the remaining 22%, with 65% of that amount going to the farmers and 35% allocated to the Community Development Fund. The JECA kept 10% of the community development fund’s share to cover overhead. One of the villages, called Pete, which owned a boardwalk that attracted tourists, received 40% of the boardwalk entrance fees and the farmers received 30%; the remaining 30% of boardwalk fees went to the JECA and the government authority for conservation and management of the Park - DCCFF. CARE’s involvement ended in 2003 and the Park was declared a national reserve in 2004. That same year, the farmers formed an association and bargained for a greater share of the profits. In 2008, the treasury stopped receiving a share, and the money went instead to the farmers. 

The Benefits

Benefits have been both monetary and nonmonetary, including a first installment of TZS 4.6 million given to the villages in 2000. The JECA and the farmers’ association both opened bank accounts. The farmers’ association transferred money to farmers, while the JECA allocated proceeds to the Community Development Fund, Pete, and the VCCs. The Fund used the money to build schools, mosques, and water and electricity projects. The villages also accrued intangible benefits, including the right to manage their land and issue permits for land use through the VCCs. VCC members received training on conservation issues as well as employment in the Park and the gift shops (particularly women). The villagers benefited from the formation of the JECA as an advocacy organization and the farmers benefited from their association, which successfully represented their needs. Microfinance projects initiated by CARE through JECA provided alternative household income.

Of the 90 households that were surveyed in three villages, a majority of households reported they were happy or very happy with the partnership because it had improved their quality of life, even though not all respondents reported higher income. Most respondents acknowledged that the old ways would have eventually had significant ecological consequences.

Factors Leading to Success

Transparency in the project, delivered through oversight mechanisms, was important. More specifically, the project was monitored and audited by the JECA, and VCC leaders had to show how they spent previous allocations of money before they could receive new allocations. A Park officer and a member of the community were always present whenever Park fees were paid. These factors helped ensure that the money was collected and spent properly, which in turned enhanced the villagers’ perceptions that the profit-sharing scheme was fair.

Other factors that led to success included the successful bargaining power of the farmers, though many of them reported they were not satisfied with the payment arrangement, either because they were left out or because they felt payment levels should reflect the level of individual effort. Additionally, all the parties reported that they understood what was expected of each of them as per the agreement and how the profit-sharing would work. The parties generally trusted each other and communicated well, factors that helped dispel old feelings of animosity between the government and the farmers. The project was practical in its ability to compensate farmers for lost income and generate new areas of employment, and it was flexible in its ability to reconfigure the profit-sharing scheme to better reflect the needs of the farmers.

Future Viability

Several factors challenge the future viability of the project. Village boundaries were mapped, but were never recognized, which has generated some conflict. Some villagers complained about a lack of easy access to firewood, and noted that illegal harvesting of wood continues. Additionally, questions about transparency have arisen because not everyone pays Park fees at the entrance gate. For example, tour groups use vouchers, leading farmers to suspect skimming. There also is no mechanism for formal financial auditing of the JECA and the Community Development Fund, and the farmers’ association distributes benefits without formal accounting procedures. The government has asked parties to appoint someone to monitor the flow of revenues, but partners responded that they do not have the money to do so.

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