Arusha — WOMEN living within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority,estimated to be 57,000 residents have sent out a SOS cry to the government, saying the area's population is being decimated by hunger.
Presenting their grievances before the visiting parliamentary committee in-charge of Land, Natural Resources and Environment from the National Assembly, the women in Ngorongoro Division complained that their homes were now empty because men and youth are escaping from hunger.
"Men have left Ngorongoro in search of alternative means of survival. The youth are also following suit, crossing the border to Kenya, where they would rather work as night guards or watchmen in Nairobi," said Mama Nabulu Kolombo, a resident of Nainokanoka Ward.
The District Chairperson of the Women Union of Tanzania (UWT), Mrs Ruth Laltaika, pointed out that when it rains, women in other parts of the country plant seeds on their farms, adding: "In the end they have crops to harvest, but here agriculture is a forbidden activity," she said.
According to Mama Laltaika, the district was still suffering the effects of 2009 drought when hundreds of thousands of livestock died due to famine which killed over 700,000 cattle, goats and sheep in Arusha Region. Ngorongoro is home to the Maasai who rely on livestock keeping for their survival.
The division lies within the NCAA, a conserved area under strict watch of the United Nations Educational, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). "The People here are given relief food of just nine (9) kilograms per family. They are expected to use for six months.
Farming is not allowed here," said the Nainokanoka Ward Councillor, Mr Edward Maula. He admitted that men and youth are leaving Ngorongoro en-masse and that only women, children and the old have been left behind. "People have given up and are ready to do anything; the government should do something," said Mr Maula.
The Kakesio Village Executive, Mr Saiboko Kimirei, said a number of children and old people have died in the area due to hunger related ailments. "It was not ordinary diseases as reports claimed but hunger and just hunger," said the Executive.
The Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee, Mr James Lembeli, said the team will take concerns and table them before the next sessions of the National Assembly in Dodoma. "Our delegation comprises of legislators from all political parties so be rest assured that your grievances will be heard in the right corridors".