Elisha Thompson from the group DONET, in Dodoma, received training and equipment in early 2009. He went on to investigate street children and their fight for survival at the bottom of the social chain amid drug and sexual abuse.. The result was a moving film called ‘Dream’. EIA connected Elisha Thompson with Haki Elimu and he was subsequently funded by the organisation to produce two TV spots urging the Government to inject TZS 60 billion into improving education and build 22,000 new homes for teachers. These were shown on TV daily, helping to build public support.Elisha received funds from EIA to document forest destruction by charcoal manufacturers, and has produced several TV spots campaigning on maternal health.Several of his films screened at the Uninhibited Muse Festival in the USA, and he is now mentoring new project participants in field investigations.
PINGOS Forum, in Arusha, received training and equipment from EIA in early 2009 and went on to produce a film highlighteing the government eviction of Maasai tribesmen to protect the operations of an influential Emirati hunting company, the OBC. The film features testimony of the associated brutalities and the burning of homes, revealing how the government is failing its people in favour of lucrative deals.A screeing at the Swedish Embassy prompted the Ambassador to launch a fact-finding mission into the evictions. The film was also shared among delegates at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in Gambia, garnering international support. Maasai communities have in turn been empowered to demonstrate and give testimony in court.In addition, PINGOS received a small grant from EIA to investigate and document the impacts of raw effluence from an oil distillery on local communities. Following a media campaign, the company was pressured to construct a treatment plant. PINGOs is now helping to open a legal case against the distillery.
Maajabu conducted a field investigation in an area in Loliondo, which the central government wanted to gazette as a National Forest Reserve. The government planned to expel Maasai communities in the area, accusing them of illegally logging and destroying the forest. Maajabu’s investigation showed outsiders were responsible for the destruction.In April 2010, Maajabu showed their film ‘Our Beloved Forests’ to the Tanzanian Director of Forests,. He agreed to accompany Maajabu to Loliondo and subsequently declared the area a ‘Village Forest Reserve’ to be managed by the Maasai communities.
TGNP, a gender-based organisation, used visuals and the media to lobby for a female Speaker in Parliament. In 2011, for the first time ever, the ruling party nominated a woman as Parliamentary Speaker.
The project has also led to the creation of a strong national network. Individuals trained by EIA have begun working cooperatively; for example, in response to the proposed construction of the Serengeti Highway, NGOs have come together to produce a campaign film calling for an alternative route less disruptive to wildlife migration. The government recently announced it would support this option instead of the original route.
India: Deforestation is reducing rainfall, study finds
Deforestation and conversion of forest land to crop land has weakened the monsoon in India, a study by a team from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay has found.
The team from the Interdisciplinary Program in Climate Studies of IIT-B studied recent changes of land use and found that rainfall received in the North-Eastern and North-Central India has reduced owing to the destruction of forests.
“Due to the large-scale deforestation, there has been a significant drop in the amount of rainfall received,” said Subimal Ghosh, a faculty member associated with the study.
“Forests are deep-rooted and have more leaf area index (an indicator of plant canopies). They facilitate more recycled precipitation, a source of rainfall,” he said.
Ghosh said the conversion of forests to crop lands, particularly in North-Eastern and North-Central India, has reduced the amount of rainfall received in these areas.
... Ghosh said the findings of the study should be considered while designing climate change mitigation policies.
Zimbabwe: Govt is standing by as its wildlife is slaughtered
It was a normal day in the Chipinge Safari area when two police officers, Robert Shumba and Vengai Mazhara, headed into the bush in Zimbabwe’s eastern highlands after getting a tip about a poacher armed with an AK-47.
They were soon dead, shot by an unknown man who escaped the scene.
A month later, the police arrested a man alleged to have supplied the AK-47 used in the killings, 36-year-old Munashe Mugwira, an operative at the state security agency, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).
Mugwira was detained after another suspected poacher was arrested. According to the local press, the suspect told police that Mugwira had supplied him and four others with AK-47s and .303 hunting rifles to “kill rhinos”. The man, Jason Chisango, also accused Mugwira of poisoning elephants with cyanide.
The accusations against a government agent point to a worrying trend in Zimbabwe: the involvement of the state’s security apparatus in rhino horn smuggling and supplying weapons to elephant and rhino poachers.
Mugwira – who has denied the charges – is now facing trial, and while Zimbabwe does have stringent legislation to protect its fauna and flora, the application of these laws has so far been disastrously uneven.