Poverty-Environment Policy Analysis

1 January 2010

Poverty and environment has an important relationship especially for developing countries like Tanzania. These two areas do have a complementary relationship which may be positive or negative depending on how they are conceptualized and dealt with. The poor under desperation may cause environmental degradation while a degraded environment in turn could be a source of increased poverty through many avenues including the disappearance or decline in the goods and services which the environment provides to our everyday needs.

The natural environment has tremendous values to humans including direct ones such as the NTFP, indirect ones such as environmental functions including carbon sink, water catchment, soil retention, microclimate regulation, and option values such as future use of resources, aesthetic values which provide not only the relaxation and recreation but also tourism business and therefore economic contribution to the nation. Sustainable development requires that these values be conserved and sustainably utilized so that their benefits contribute towards society’s wellbeing and poverty reduction today and in the future. To be able to address this duality all related sectors need to recognize, identify, plan and implement activities which facilitate appropriate response towards achieving environmental integrity and poverty reduction. Removing policy conflicts and duplication of activities through coordinating actions is vital for success. To achieve this, an effective operational institutional mechanism must be established to coordinate and take care of activities cutting across various sectors. This includes planning and allocation of resources to the institutional arrangement which will also have to respond to anticipated climate change impacts through taking mitigation and adaptation measures proactively

In June 2001 a group of stakeholders comprising different government institutions, academia and NGOs worked to formulate a program on the integration of environment into the Poverty Reduction Strategy process. The Division of Environment in VPO and NEMC with technical advice from the champions and think tank developed an initial proposal for integration of environment as a crosscutting issue into the PER/MTEF process in2002. This review is the first to look into the implementation of the intended integration of environment into the MKUKUTA process i.e. poverty environment nexus. The reversal of the negative poverty/environmental impacts will depend not only on improved environmental management, but and availability of alternatives sources of livelihood and a supportive enabling institutional and legal framework. Consequently, empowerment and capacity building, good governance, resource tenure, education and awareness are important in creating conducive environment for changing the negative outcomes into positive ones.

This study had three major objectives, first was to assess how policies that promote poverty-environmental issues have been integrated into national development policies and processes. That is looking at the synergies between the environment and poverty policy, policy alignment/harmonization. Secondly, to assess possible policy trades off; Environment/Growth nexus, energy, agriculture, water, long term planning/climate. Thirdly, assess population dynamics as an opportunity and challenge and its implications on sustainability issues, natural resource utilisation, planning process and waste management.

National Policies and Strategies review

The key environmental policy documents reviewed were: National Environmental Policy (URT, 1997); National Environmental Action Plan (1997); The National Climate Change Adaptation Plan (2006); The National Biodiversity Strategic and Action Plan (2000); The National Action Plan to Combat Desertification (1999). Earlier strategies and plans include: The Coastal Biodiversity Conservation Strategy (1995); The National Environmental Action Plan (1994); and the National Plan for Agenda 21 (1993). Also there are number of sectoral policies which are relevant to the environment, these include: Forestry policy, Fisheries Policy, Livestock Policy, Agricultural Development policy, Irrigation Policy, Industrial policy, Wildlife Policy, Beekeeping Policy, Water Policy, Tourism Policy, mineral policy, energy policy and so on. Most of these sector policies do recognise the environment; however some lack the explicit direct link between poverty and the environment.

The review found that, the Environmental Management Act (EMA) of 2004 is the most current and significant environmental reform process to date. It provides a legal and institutional framework for: sustainable management of the environment; preventing and control of pollution; waste management, environmental quality standards; public participation, environmental compliance and enforcement. The Act also specifies the role of actors at various levels of government, where coordination is done by VPO Division of Environment while NEMC enforces EMA and the rest of the ministries are implementing agents.

 The National Environmental Policy of (1997) being the main policy has the objective to ensure sustainability, security and equitable use of the resources for meeting the basic needs of the present and future generations without degrading the environment. Poverty is the first issue addressed as a cross-sectoral policy-the policy recognizes the linkage between poverty and the environment. The NEP however, needs to be reviewed since it is more than 10 years old and significant changes have occurred since.

The Forestry policy was found to adhere to the principles of the National Environmental Policy; it acknowledges that there is a clear cause and effect relationship between poverty and environmental degradation. One notable issue regarding the policy, like many other sectoral policies is that there is little direct and explicit reference to poverty alleviation per se and the links between improved forest resource management and poverty reduction. The policy provide strong support for PFM through which poor local communities should be able to gain better access to the control of and benefits from forest use. Currently the Forestry Policy is under review, it is expected that it should be able to address emerging issues such as the growing international carbon trade and other conservation mechanisms.

The Fisheries policy acknowledges the linkage between the sustainable exploitation of fish resources and the provision of high quality food, income and employment. Though the linkage between poverty and environment is recognized, the role of poverty as a constraint to sustainable management of fisheries resources, or possibility of developing positive environment/poverty linkages, is not highlighted. The biggest challenge facing the fisheries sector is compliance to regulations in both marine and freshwater fisheries. Non compliance costs the nation lost revenue, sustainable protein through destructive fishing practices. The fisheries policy is also under review and is expected that the new policy should be clearer on rule compliance and enforcement. This should include the issue of registration of fishing vessels, catch limit, transhipment, and inspection and so on. One pre-requisite for the country to benefit from the marine fisheries sector is the construction of a fishing harbour which is non existent at the time being. The government should think about implementing the recommendation of the 5YDP of 2007 with respect to fisheries.

The Wildlife policy seeks to integrate wildlife conservation within rural development where benefit sharing in a way aims at addressing poverty issue is discussed at length. The policy strongly support community based conservation through WMA and the process by which the benefits of wildlife management will go to local communities is given priority. The potential impediment to WMA implementation is the complexity of the process required to establish officially recognized WMA in many areas. The guidelines are detailed and demand a high level of capacity which is lacking in many communities. There is also a clear problem of governance in this area and the government is loosing billions of shillings on this. In order to exploit the potential for growth and rural development from wildlife resources, it is necessary to ensure greater coherence between different national policies and instruments

 The National Water Policy states that “water is considered a key factor in the socio-economic development and the fight against poverty”. The policy supports the application of the polluter pays principle and has a specific objective to have in place water management system which protect the environment, ecological system and biodiversity. It is noted in this review also that water for the environment is recognized and there is a clear linkage between water policy and the irrigation policy. Despite these apparent linkages there is no mention in irrigation policy on the efficient use of available water. This is a shortcoming of the irrigation policy as it ignores the fact that not only water is scarce resource but inefficient use is bad for the environment.

The Mineral Policy seeks to alleviate poverty through the development of small as well as large scale mining operations. The policy also requires actions to mitigate the adverse environmental and social aspects of these types of operations. Environment and poverty concerns are therefore addressed though the linkages between them are not mentioned. Despite these however, questions are still being asked about the extent to which the large scale mining sector is contributing to poverty reduction in the areas where they are working. Although local employment is being provided, the macro- economic contribution of the sector in terms of the substantial tax breaks and relatively low royalties and other levies that are paid leaves a lot to be desired. It is argued that the mining sector should be able to make a large contribution to government revenues and, through that, to the country’s goal of poverty alleviation. Large scale mining has a major environmental impact, consumes large volumes of water and uses very hazardous chemicals, especially mercury and cyanide and therefore high potential for water pollution. There are real environmental costs and potential hazards, which calls for NEMC to increase its capacity in monitoring and environmental auditing.

Low implementation capacity

 There is low capacity in implementation, monitoring and evaluation of production technologies (human resources and hardware) at all levels e.g. NEMC, ministerial, regional and local government levels. Community understanding of industrial effluents is a problem, and this results to a very high social costs. Awareness creation to communities is needed to that effect. There is low capacity at district level where the actual interaction between people and the environmental resources prevails. Majority environmental officers in districts are engaged with natural resources matters, leaving environmental issues un-attended. This would jeopardize the sustainability of environment. There is a need to strengthen capacity regional and local government, as these are more responsible for the environment at the grass root level. The human resource capacity should include at least 3 fields of expertise i.e. Ecologists, economists and sociologists.


The review comes up with a total of 9 actionable recommendations as follows. EMU should be established at the department dealing with cross cutting issues, in most cases this should be the Planning and Policy Department. The DPP is a member of the environmental Working Group (EWG), which makes it the more appropriate to house the EMU. The VPO-DoE should be responsible to guide this process in collaboration with the President office-Planning Commission (POPC).

Second, there is a need to strengthen capacity regional and local government, as these are more responsible for the environment at the grass root level. The human resource capacity should include at least 3 fields of expertise i.e. Ecologists, economists and sociologists. The VPO – DoE, NEMC and PO RALG should guide and facilitate the process.

The third recommendation is that since the current Inter Ministerial Technical Committee is loaded with responsibilities, a more effective inter-sectoral coordination mechanism which is more ‘hands on’ that reports to the IMTC should be put in place to improve MKUKUTA implementation. The Planning Commission and VPO environment should facilitate the process.

Fourth, while it is important that MKUKUTA II allocates more funds for the environment, there is also a need to have a code in the budgetary allocation framework for the environment so that it becomes easy to trace its uses as it currently is with HIV/ Aids. The Ministry of Finance should take the lead in facilitating this.

Fifthly, budgetary allocation should be based on needs of the institution in question based on requirements by line ministries as opposed to the currently flat rate allocation. The Ministry of Finance and VPO Environment should guide the process.

Sixth recommendation is that, while economic growth is important for poverty reduction, care should be taken on how tradeoffs are made. In this light we need to balance the personal, societal and national costs and benefits of a decision for sustainability. The VPO environment, NEMC and Ministry of Finance should work on way forward

Seventh, Poverty and environment nexus should be assessed with the gender divide in mind due to their traditional division of labour at the household level. Similarly targeting of capacity building should follow the same criteria i.e. who is responsible/ doing what at the household level for effective outcomes. The VPO Environment, NEMC and Planning Commission within the Ministry of Finance should lead the process. Eighth, climate change adaptation and impact mitigation should be considered in the next phase of MKUKUTA particularly the management mechanisms for conserving the natural environment involving the rural communities and where incentive options are introduced such as REDD+ where both the communities and the environment win.

Lastly, population dynamics has two implications. One implication is on urbanization growth and its pressure on the existing infrastructure. Therefore planned urbanization has to be effected. (Ministry of Lands and Human Settlement). The second implication is on pressure on resources due to population growth. We need to hasten and land use planning, participatory management and Strengthening of capacity of NEMC and Local Governments. These activities have to be overseen by PO RALG and the VPO environment. Furthermore, MKUKUTA II has to take these into consideration.


Publication reference
K. Kulindwa, R. Lokina & A. Hepelwa

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Publication | 20 October 2010