13 December 2012

Tanzania: Govt Pledges to Help Ngorongoro Famine Victims

Photo: IRIN
Tanzania's Ngorongoro residents in need of food (file photo).

THE government has decided to intervene in the famine catastrophe that has affected over 60,000 people in Ngorongoro District, Arusha Region.

The Minister of Tourism and Natural Resources, Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki visited the area where famine is reportedly wreaking havoc and held public meetings with the local people there, who told him that some children in the area have died due to famine.

"I want the Ngorongoro Conservation Authority management to officially write to my ministry so that we may address the issue, now that the situation is worse," said Mr Kagasheki. The Maasai in Ngorongoro are not permitted to farm or be involved in any commercial activities because the Ngorongoro Division in which they live lies within the conserved land meant for tourism and wildlife protection.

Famine and diseases have smitten most of the area's livestock and the Maasai who depend on cattle for survival are currently at lost regarding their future.

"Hundreds of children are admitted to Wasso and Enduleni hospitals suffering cases related to malnutrition and parents have buried several others," said Mr James Ole Moringe, the Executive Secretary for the Ngorongoro Pastoralists Council.

Ms Agnes Sandai, Special seat CCM Councillor, said women in the area were shocked when some officials at the Arusha Regional Commissioner's office tried to deny that there was no hunger in the Ngorongoro Division.

"Instead of sitting on their laurels in town offices, they should take time to visit health centres in the wilderness of Ngorongoro and see for themselves how children are suffering," she lamented. District Commissioner Elias Wawa Lali, admitted that the residents around NCAA were facing food shortages and that the Conservation Area Management was responsible to buy them food.

NCAA Acting Conservator Bruno Kawasange said his office had been buying food from the National Grains Reserves but they were restricted to purchase a specific quota and with a special permit. Ngorongoro MP Kaika Saning'o Ole Telele said famine in Ngorongoro wasn't new, similar cases had been reported in the past but authorities chose to ignore them at the expense of people's lives.

"Minister, it is good that you came because the 'Laigwanans' here were planning to march to the State House and report the Arusha Regional Commissioner Mr Magessa Mulongo to President Kikwete, because the RC is denying there is no hunger while people here are suffering and children are dying," said Mr Ole Telele.

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