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Q&A: Making Natural Resources Work for the Poor in Tanzania

September 15, 2015


Shellfish pickers in Zanzibar, Tanzania. 

Photo: Sonu Jain / World Bank

Almost 90 percent of Tanzania's poor live in rural areas, and are highly dependent on depleting natural resources for food, fuel and fodder. In recent years, the World Bank introduced activities and programs to support the government of Tanzania in improving natural resource management and responding to climate change.

Led by Ann Jeannette Glauber, a World Bank team developed Tanzania's first climate change action plan—for agriculture—and risk assessment of key urban areas. They also helped assess the value of tourism to the country's economy and local communities. The environment is now a central part of the World Bank’s work in Tanzania, including activities in fisheries, nature-based tourism, and water resource management.

We recently spoke with Glauber about her experience in helping to manage fisheries better and protect coastal communities, both economically and to prepare for climate change:

From your experience, what is considered a best practice for fisheries in Tanzania and East Africa?

Strengthening small-scale fisheries. One piece of this is certainly around enhancing economic benefit, and trying to make sure communities and the broader Tanzanian economy are getting the full value of these fisheries. We are helping coastal communities benefit from improved management of the fish in their nearshore waters. People's livelihoods in coastal villages are heavily dependent, all or in part, on coastal resources, and there is a strong need to ensure the fish populations are sustainable. Moreover, coastal populations need ways to get more value from the fish they catch. Tanzania lacks facilities to process and export their fish.  We are also helping Tanzania and other regional coastal states negotiate together as a block, to get more value from their marine and coastal resources. The role of the Bank in this case is to create a platform to provide and share knowledge, financing and convening power.  Such an approach can encourage the private sector to make investments to better capture the value of fisheries.

" People's livelihoods in coastal villages are heavily dependent, all or in part, on coastal resources, and there is a strong need to ensure the fish populations are sustainable. "
Ann Jeannette Glauber, Lead Environmental Specialist, World Bank

Ann Jeannette Glauber

Lead Environmental Specialist, World Bank

What are some of the challenges to managing fisheries and strengthening coastal communities in Tanzania?

There is still a serious problem of IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing. Practices like blast fishing, using dynamite and other explosives to catch more fish, are very dangerous to the fishers, the fish and the ecosystem. How can we help small-scale fisheries capture some of the value from that fish, through revenues or investment in processing? Also, there are Illegal trawlers who violate management measures and international agreements about quota and catch limits, taking many of the high-value species. There is some capacity to control IUU fishing, but not nearly enough. There are also challenges in supporting transition of coastal communities to non-fisheries activities, as fish populations are not growing as fast as their human counterparts.

What is the World Bank's engagement with wildlife in Tanzania?

Wildlife is a tremendously important resource in Tanzania, both for the broader economy and at the household level. What we've done successfully is help showcase the importance of tourism to the national economy, and to assist the government in highlighting the importance of sustainably managing wildlife by investing in developing tourism as a long-term economic sector with high job-creation potential.

Today, we are supporting efforts to strengthen tourism development in communities where poaching is a devastating problem. In the past five years, Tanzania has lost 60 percent of its elephants due to illegal poaching.  Our response to poaching is to support incentives to keep animals alive, and to make them worth more alive than dead. We are trying to build new linkages between sustainable livelihoods and natural resources.

You recently moved to work in Indonesia. What experiences of yours—in terms of preparing for climate change and protecting the environment in Tanzania—is applicable to your new home in Indonesia?

We are pursuing a path for sustainable growth with the government in Indonesia.

It is a country of extremes: the world's fourth most populous country, largest archipelago, and center of marine and terrestrial biodiversity. It is also the fifth largest emitter of CO2 globally, due to extremely high rates of deforestation. As in East Africa, there are high linkages between poverty and natural resource dependence. Our next challenge is to examine Indonesia's deforestation, find innovative ways to battle land degradation.