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Nomadic Pastoralists Reverse Their Annual Migrations to Beat Climate Change

It is normal and part of their tradition for the Maasai to move with their livestock from one place to another in search of water and greener pastures, but this time, the pastoralists seem to be fleeing from drought.

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Nomadic Pastoralist communities in the Northern Zone Regions of Tanzania seem to have revised their migration dates and patterns in effort to offset effects of climate change.

The Maasai from Longido and Monduli for instance, reportedly started moving away from their locations five months before their regular migratory seasons.

“By as as early as May, 2022, the pastoralists had already gathered their menagerie and taken off to unknown destinations,” an official at Longido observes.

This, by the way, happens to be four months earlier, compared to their usual migration time which normally starts in September of each year.

It is normal and part of the Maasai tradition to move with their livestock from one place to another in search of water and greener pastures, but this time, the pastoralists seem to be fleeing from drought.

The sun seems to go down on the maasai lives as land around the pastoralists dries up

 “This year, the average rainfall for Longido dropped to less than 50 millimeters during the monsoon season,” reveals Ally Msangi, an Economist from the District Council.

Longido usually records between 500 and 900 millimeters of precipitation in a year.

This year the rain gauges in Longido pooled in an average of 45 Millimeters of rain, a rather shocking drop in the District’s history.

The long rains (Monson) season in the Northern Parts of Tanzania normally commences from Mid-March going all the way to early June.

However, with failed rains of March to April, the Maasai in Longido and Monduli were compelled to move from their locations in May.

Some crossed the border into Kenya, others are currently trying their luck in other districts and regions.

Their movements, according to Musa Juma the Executive Director of the Media Aid for Indigenous and Pastoralist Community (MAIPAC), aim to allow pastures behind them to replenish.

 “But sometimes when they are away, other people invade the vacant plots without considering that it belongs to the pastoralists, resulting in a series of land conflicts afterwards,” points out Musa Juma.

That was among the observations tabled in Arusha, during the launch of the new nature-based conservation initiative.

The project titled, ‘Forest, Water and Environment Conservation, Using Indigenous Knowledge,’ sets out to address climate change problems using nature based solutions.

Media Aid for Indigenous and Pastoralist Community MAIPAC is the focus organization which implements the ‘Forest, Water and Environment Conservation, Using Indigenous Knowledge,’ project.

It is done in partnership with the Longido District Council, Ngorongoro District Council, Monduli District Council, Tanzania Natural Resource Forum (TNRF) and the Civic and Legal Aid Organization (CILAO).

The ‘Forest, Water and Environment Conservation, Using Indigenous Knowledge,’ project is supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) through the GEF Small Grants Program and the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

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