By Britta Foulis – Content Marketing Manager
On the 5th of June, it was announced that the Hadza communities of the Yaeda Valley in northern Tanzania had won a 2019 Equator Prize. The United Nations Development Programme’s Equator Initiative “brings together the United Nations, governments, civil society, businesses and grassroots organisations to recognise and advance local, sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities.”
The prestigious prize is awarded to indigenous groups by the Equator Initiative in recognition of their innovative work in developing solutions to climate change and promoting sustainable development. The Hadza have been recognised for their Yaeda Valley Project, a forest conservation initiative that has been implemented by the Hadza communities in partnership with the Tanzanian social enterprise, Carbon Tanzania. The Hadza will now join a network of 223 communities from 78 countries that have received the Equator Prize since its inception in 2002.
The Hadza are an ancient hunter-gatherer tribe that relies on the natural world for their survival. Their traditional lifestyle of gathering wild fruits and occasionally hunting wild game are still thriving; however, these lands have slowly been reduced by the pressure of shifting agriculture over the years. Something needed to be done to help, so a local Tanzanian legal rights group and the government of Tanzania were able to secure legal land-rights in the form of a Certificate of Customary Right of Occupancy (CCRO) – the first of its kind for an indigenous group in Tanzania.
Not only was this a landmark achievement, but the Hadza also continued to collaborate further with Carbon Tanzania, to bring about the Yaeda Valley Project. This project is an innovative nature-based solution to the problem of climate change; Carbon Tanzania has described it as “a shining example of the power of co-operation between a variety of actors who bring different strengths, skills and resources to create an open, transparent and empowering environment for effective, locally driven conservation and sustainable development.” You can read more about the project here.
Just this year, the Hadza community have been able to send 12 community members to be trained as forest rangers. They have supported a further 25 students through their studies and have also provided hospital treatments to 23 different community members in need.
Climate change is a very real threat to societies all over the world. Bringing about awareness around biodiversity loss and the impact it has on Earth’s life support systems is crucial, and we need to seek out genuine and innovative ways to address these kinds of challenges. The Hadza, through the Yaeda Valley Project, have successfully demonstrated how working together to secure land rights, focusing on the importance of nature, and collaborating with governments can achieve this dream.