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In Tanzania, an Orphan Gets an Education Thanks to Wildlife

Juma profile

As an orphan in the Tanzanian town of Namtumbo, Juma Ndimbo had little hope of attending secondary school, much less college. The fees for schooling were more than his impoverished family could afford. Subsistence farming barely allowed his grandparents, aunt, and seven younger siblings to make ends meet.

Ndimbo’s ticket to education came from a different source—the Mbarang'andu Wildlife Management Area (WMA) near his home. Mbarang'andu is one of Tanzania’s WMAs created under an official land-use designation that allows local residents to benefit from governing an area’s natural resources sustainably. Since 2006, WWF has been assisting the WMA through various activities, such as development of its general management plan, and capacity building for the WMA leadership and Village Game Scouts.

A home to charismatic species

Mbarang'andu, which borders Selous Game Reserve, shelters various species of wildlife including elephants, lions, crocodiles, hippopotamus, and many other charismatic species. Birds such as the knob-billed duck, southern ground hornbill, and bateleur eagle grace its rivers and trees.

The WMA generates revenue for its communities from sustainable use of natural resources, including bee-keeping and fishing. The funds are used to improve educational and administrative facilities, such as providing desks to schools and financing construction of offices. The money also funds scholarships for orphans such as Ndimbo to attend secondary school.

“I don't think I would have been able to attend secondary school without the WMA help,” said Ndimbo. “And if I did so, I think it would have been in very critical circumstances.”

Preparing for a brighter future

Now 24-years old, he is studying for his bachelor of arts degree in history at the University of Dodoma. Without the scholarship that allowed him to prepare for college, he believes that he would now be either farming with his family or working as a driver, like many of his peers.

His goals include conducting research on the social effects of tobacco cultivation and the socio-political and economic development of the Ndendeule ethnic group. He dreams of eventually pulling his family out of poverty and is soon planning to start an organization to help other young people afford education, especially in technical colleges. The group will provide counseling on a range of issues, including early marriage and cultural and natural resources management.

“Nowadays the destruction of natural resources in our community is very high and I think this is due to the lack of knowledge,” he said. The WMA can act as a forum to educate and engage local people on environmental conservation.

“Let me take this opportunity to thank the WMA on the behalf of my community for what it done for my community,” Ndimbo said. “My community gains so much from the WMA.”

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