Indigenous Pastoralist Conservation Through Establishment of Environmentally Friendly Income Generating Activities in Tanzania



Pastoralist Economic & Social Advancement (PESA)








Economic diversification, Beekeeping, Natural environment, pastoralists, forest-based Income, Livelihoods and Climate Change


Essau Erasto

Summary Sheet

The summary sheet for this case study is available here.


The indigenous community of pastoralists in Northern Tanzania who lives below the poverty line while threatened by climate change to undertake their common social, cultural and economic activities is in a harsh environment. The organization planned to empower and strengthen this community through poverty eradication and livelihood support through a forest-based income approach, in which we introduced a beekeeping project and provided beehives and training to them to build community resilience to control, adapt, manage and mitigate climate change impacts.

We achieved to impact positively more than 100 people most in need by supporting them in Two (2) villages of Simanjiro District also we facilitated training for the environmental committees in 5 villages on natural resources protection and benefits.

This community was supported on management, control, access and ownership of land. The community’s livelihood depends on land for every aspect of their lives being social, cultural as well as economic sustainability.

1. Background

Pastoralists face a number of challenges that hinder their way of life and stifle their ability to adapt to changes in their external environment. The challenges like climate change, political and economic marginalization, inappropriate development policies, and increasing resource competition account for the poverty and lack of essential services like water and Quality education.

Dependency on one economic activity of livestock keeping in the communities has resulted in environmental deterioration and increased vulnerability and poverty to pastoralist livelihood and to ecological stress to the area. The common activity around these areas was agriculture in both crop cultivation and animal rearing, while animal rearing (pastoralism) took control in large part due to the presence of large number of indigenous Maasai tribes that are pastoralists in nature.

The native of these areas (Maasai) their lives rely on animal keeping as a source of income for sustaining families and for other cultural purposes like marriage dowry, gift, Animals possessed show status and identity in that particular tribe (indigenous Maasai community). The land grows with grass and shrubs that provide communal grazing land for cattle and also for wildlife which are abundantly found around the area. Rainfall patterns determine when and where to graze because rainfall dictates when and where pasture can be found.

In recent decades these pastoralists facing severe ecological stress. The stress originates from the prolonged recurrence of droughts and some anthropogenic activities such as an expansion of smallholder crop cultivation, the creation of protected areas such as game reserves and the opening up of large-scale farms. These processes have tendencies to deny pastoralists of access to land, previously perceived by local pastoralists as traditional grazing lands.

During our recent campaign for community economic diversification, we conducted around pastoralist areas, as an effort to reduce environmental degradation and generate other sources of income that are environmentally friendly. The diversification will improve the community’s livelihood. The process will also improve the quality of the products so that they meet international quality standards and compete in the global market and business sustainability.

The organization introduced a project that targets to empower this community to diversify their income by establishing other environmentally friendly income generating activity the established income-generating activities will be owned by women and Youth. The project provided beehives for beekeeping to groups of small entrepreneurs in the area to raise their income while taking care of the environment and its sustainability for a better tomorrow. A hundred (100) hives were provided to ten (10) groups at Loiborsoit A village in Simanjiro District Manyara Region Northern Tanzania. The hives are hanged at the trees and the groups are responsible for protection from damages like tree cutting, charcoal burning, and other anthropogenic activities like those. The groups are responsible to protect their areas in cooperation with the village authority and other responsible agencies for forest resources protection.

Also empowering small entrepreneurs fill the gap of unemployment problem for many youths as one of the major problems in many developing countries like Tanzania, as the involvement of youth specifically women taken into consideration.

Photo.1 shows prepared beehive (source author photo)

2 Social-Economic and Environmental characteristics of an area

Previously people in the area depended on pastoralism only as income-generating activity while few people (migrants) engaged to other small economic activities including shops, saloons, restaurants, guest houses, and butchers. Recently the pastoralists understand the importance of economic diversification to mitigate the impacts of climate on household income, change in land use patterns, and decline in communal grazing land to private ownership, and started to engage in small businesses and we support them to take control of honey market.

The area is characterized by forests growing of grasses and shrubs with rangeland nature supportive to pastoralists and wildlife, the area is also covered by natural springs and seasonal swamps in some parts used as water sources for animals as well as humans. The presence of invasive species in the areas is a great barrier to the improvement of pasture and livestock development.

2.1 Benefits to human-nature relationship

  1. The presence of rangeland with grasses and shrubs provides room for animal keeping (pastoralism) in the area since the activity dominates the area.
  2. Protected forests help hives hanging for beekeeping in turn increasing income to the people after they start earning the honey to the market.
  3. The available natural spring and seasonal swamps (dams) are useful to human being and animals as well as support in honey production as bee depends on water as material for production.

2.2 Threats to human-nature relationship

  1. Exposed to climatic changes that result in prolonged drought in the area resulting in deficiency and a lower rate of animal keeping in this marginalized community and hence increasing the risk of poverty.
  2. Emergency of invasive species in rangeland is a problem since it reduces the growth of grasses for animal feeds.
  3. Decline of communal grazing land to private ownership threatening pastoralists to lose grazing land.

3 Objective and rationale

Logically beekeeping project aims to strengthen the livelihoods of rural people and widen the benefits of the community to natural resources that are significant to business initiatives for income generating and eradicating poverty through sustainable harvesting of resources including forests, water sources and the land. Beekeeping reduces the threats of poverty and increases food security to the community affected by climate change and the unpredicted global economic situation.

This project creates a great conducive environment for the community to take part in business and increase participation of the community in the conservation of the ecosystem they benefit from securing their land, water and forests in the presence of by-laws and educating others to understand the value of resource protection and conservation.

4 Activities Description

Simanjiro Pastoralist Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation project from our organization recognizes beekeeping as an opportunity for the rural and one of the best solutions for addressing climate change effects.

Beekeeping is a forest-based income activity and one of the best human activity that allows positive interaction between human being and the environment since human benefits from honey while the ecosystem remains safe and healthier. The honey harvested can be used for business after processing, packaging and being introduced to the market.

The organization supports the people in groups of small entrepreneurs through the provision of beehives to them so they can be able to undertake or engage in beekeeping for honey production after a special training based on beekeeping to understand good methods/practice and area selection for hanging of hives, the training includes entrepreneurship education for business innovation for improving production and earning.

In this project, 10 groups were provided with 100 hives at Loiborsoit A and 2 groups were provided with 20 hives in Msitu wa Tembo in the implementation of this project in Simanjiro Pastoralist Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation. Economic diversification is a good approach to adapting to the effect of climate change since gives an alternative way to survive the disaster.
Empowerment and support for hives (beehives) facilitate the development of a new economic way for this marginalized community of pastoralists in Simanjiro District who were significantly affected by a prolonged drought that resulted in a shortage of water and decline of potential rangeland pasture hence failure in pastoralism as the core social-economic activity to the rural people in Simanjiro District.

Photo. 2 shows hanging of beehives at Loiborsoit A (source fieldwork photo)

In addition to protecting and conservation of biodiversity and supporting this local community to adapt climate change, Pastoralist Economic and Social Advancement (PESA) managed to construct a water dam which is the main source of water during the dry season for the bees, animals (cattle) as well as wildlife which are abundant in the area and therefore serve the ecological landscape. Water dam construction in this village not only benefits the community but also has a great impact on wildlife as they also depend on this potential facility which serves this area which is an area for wildlife breeding and their migratory routes for large herbivorous animals like zebra, wildebeests, antelopes, from and to the Tarangire national park.

The case is in line with the conceptual framework of the satoyama initiative since it gives an overview of the project targeted to build capacity for local people to benefit from nature such as forest-based income and involvement of the community in the management of landscapes and seascapes (SEPLS) which also lead to improved community resilience and it supports the achievement of multiple benefits of the ecosystem-based approach. Beekeeping is a best practice in conservation and an ecosystem based-approach that gives equal benefits between human beings and their surrounding.

5 Results and lesson learned

5.1 Results

About 120 people at Loiborsoit A and Msitu wa Tembo village in Simanjiro District directly benefited from the project since they were provided with beehives and after they received special training on beekeeping and entrepreneurship, this initiative empowered and supported small enterprises from marginalized communities in Tanzania.

The efficiency of the environmental committee in conducting their day-to-day work in respective villages (Loiborsoit A and Msitu wa Tembo) improved as witnessed in a short period of project implementation.

5.2 Lesson learned

During the project implementation period, we experienced drought which is among the impacts the project is striving to address by facilitating the communities to take initiatives towards adaptation and reducing the impacts of climate change such as drought in the areas.

During this period of working with this community, we experienced prolonged drought which affected the environment and posed the threat of increasing poverty levels caused by the loss of many livestock in the drought season, this project came up with an alternative way to solve this problem and boost the household’s income.

Also, through working with this community we witnessed the readiness of the community to take part in conservation and protection of nature.

5.3 Success of a project

  1. Good cooperation with local government authorities enables us to reach our targeted goals of strengthening this community through sustainable resource access and use.
  2. The incredible support from our donors and partners facilitated us to achieve many towards community empowerment and conservation.
  3. The presence of courageous and professional staff in conservation and community development helps the organization to impact many people through training and workshop on biodiversity protection and development.

5.4 Project Challenges

  1. Inadequate and unsustainable funds support from donors and the community hindered the achievement of intended project outcomes and results.
  2. Few people from the target group/community understood the project at the beginning of the project.

6 Key messages

Increasing people’s awareness of conservation using traditional methods and indigenous knowledge must recognize the instrument of laws and policies governing conservation while reflecting the benefits to communities to take part in conservation activities. Conservation does not suppress the life of an entire community. This will become an effective tool for the conservation and protection of biodiversity through a participatory approach.
Additional messages include:

  1. Food security and sustainable livelihoods depend on multiple activities that contribute to income earning for households and the community in general.
  2. Empowerment and support to this community to engage in a business activity do not target to destroy the culture of the indigenous people who are pastoralists but to increase sources of income generating activities using the available resources.

In association with preserving the culture of indigenous pastoralists in Northern Tanzania who the life rely on the land for animal keeping as well as beekeeping, the organization empowers these people to secure their communal land on legal ownership through facilitating 70 pastoralists in 5 villages to acquire customary certificate which gives them to own land legally.


Lastly, this community is still looking for support on management, control, access and ownership of land as they rely on land for social, cultural as well as economic to sustain their life. Our organization works in different areas to ensure the sustainability of this vulnerable community through supporting, empowering and strengthening them over resource ownership in a legal way so as to benefit and transform their lives. We managed to implement several projects on climate adaptation apart from beehive support such as Water dam construction and land right, access and ownership to land for women who tend to be excluded from land possession and inheritance.

References and Bibliography

  1. Pius. Z.Yanda, Christopher William 2010, ‘livelihoods diversification and implication on food security and poverty level in Maasai plains, African journal for environmental science and technology, vol4 (3), pp. 154-166, March, 2010.
  2. Pesa, 2022, interim progressive report, Arusha Tanzania.
  3. Pesa, 2022, Annual report Northern Tanzania.
  4. Karen. D. Holl, 2021, primer of ecological restoration, Amazon’s books store.
  5. Pesa, 2022, Annual report Northern Tanzania

Author’s profile

He is an environmental activist working towards a sustainable environment and community through the empowerment of the community on economic activities relying on resources available in their areas, also working with communities on climate change adaptation and mitigation in the effort to eradicate poverty in Tanzania. Also, he is the Executive Director of Pastoralist Economic and Social Advancement (PESA) a non-governmental organization in Tanzania.


Thankful to our generous donors and partners. ‘Without your support, nothing could happen’
United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
Tanzania natural resources forum (TNRF).
Global Environmental Facility (GEF).
Satoyama Development Mechanism (SDM) and
PESA staff for their courage to work with communities