At the on-going 41stWorld
Heritage Committee meeting in Krakow, Poland, the Government of the United
Republic of Tanzania has re-affirmed its commitment to undertake the Stiegler’s
Gorge Hydroelectric Development Project within the Selous Game Reserve World
Heritage Site. The Tanzanian delegation to the meeting is led by Maj. Gen.
Gaudence S. Milanzi, Permanent Secretary, Ministry for Natural Resources and
Tourism also composed of H. E Samwel W. Shelukindo, Ambassador of the United
Republic of Tanzania to France and Permanent delegate to UNESCO, as well as senior
experts from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.

During the meeting,
the Permanent Secretary informed delegates from across the World that the plans
to build the dam have been on the government’s agenda since the 1960’s. The
Selous Game Reserve covers 50,000sq km and the proposed project will only covers
3% of the area.  He reiterated that the
Selous Game Reserve was therefore inscribed in the World Heritage List with
this agenda already on the table. It should be noted that at the time of
inscription of the reserve in 1982, the International Union for Conservation of
Nature (IUCN) considered that the Stiegler’s Gorge project was of no serious
environmental concern, given the vast size of the property. The Permanent Secretary
further pointed that Tanzania has recently made a firm decision towards
industrial transformation, which has significantly increased energy demand.
Given the currently available power generation options, it has been imperative
to re-consider Stiegler’s Gorge as a power source.

The Permanent
Secretary also indicated that at full capacity, implementation of this project will
boost the total power production for the country by about 144.8%, and
therefore, Tanzania has decided to develop the Stiegler’s Gorge power source to
its full potential to address the widened gap in power demand. When completed,
it will benefit the majority of the Tanzanian population currently living
without electricity. The project will also meet the increased industrial power
demand in the country.

In underscoring Tanzania’s
position, the Permanent Secretary noted that if well planned, executed and
monitored, projects such as power dams need not necessarily adversely impair
conservation. In contrast, by use of the best available technological options,
planning and monitoring tools, such projects stand to generate national wealth
and improve the livelihoods and social well-being of local communities without
adversely jeopardizing the very environmental base that generates such
benefits. He also pointed out that despite the ‘no option’ conception for
hydropower projects within or adjacent World Heritage sites, in reality demand
for such projects continue to exist worldwide since they address basic
socio-economic needs not only in Tanzania but also in other countries.

In delivering the
statement, the Permanent Secretary emphasized that the message was to confirm
to the World Heritage Committee about Tanzania`s determination to proceed with
the project, based on the principles of sustainable development. He however
said that, Tanzania was ready for further consultations   that
will allow implementation of this prioritized endeavor for the socio-economic
and environmental well-being of the Game Reserve and Tanzania as a whole. Before
the discussion, Tanzanian delegation held consultations with senior officers of
the World Heritage Centre and its Advisory Bodies on the matter and officially
submitted a letter to the World Heritage Centre expressingTanzania’s position.

Tanzania strongly
opposed to the previous draft resolution No. 41 COM 7 A.17 paragraph 7 which
urged Tanzania to Permanently abandon the Stieglier`s Gorge Hydro- Power
Project. After the Statement the draft resolution was later amended and the
paragraph was reviewed accordingly.

Tanzania is a signatory
to the World Heritage Convention of 1972. Seven sites in Tanzania are inscribed
in the list of the World Heritage List including the Selous Game Reserve and
Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Tanzania is currently a member of the World
Heritage Committee for the period of four years until 2019. Since admission to
the membership in 2015, Tanzania has been pushing the Committee to uphold the
concept of sustainable development in the Committee’s agenda and guidelines in
order to allow physical development and optimal socio-economic developments
with minimal possible adverse environmental impacts.

The meeting also
discussed the Ngorongoro World Heritage Site and during the deliberations, the
World Heritage Committee commended the United Republic of Tanzania for accomplishing
steps towards hardening of the Ngorongoro – Serengeti road passing through the
two conservation areas in order to mitigate the adverse environmental effects
due heavy traffic of tourist vehicles in order to improve visitors`

Responding to the issues
raised by the World Heritage Committee, the Conservator of Ngorongoro
Conservation Area Authority, Dr. Freddy Manongi informed the Committee that the
main purpose of the road surface upgrade was to address environmental concerns
created by the use of the existing earth road by over 500 tourist vehicles each
day during the high tourism season. The use of the earth road in the area demands
quarterly maintenance which leads to adverse environmental impacts such as air
(dust), visual and noise pollution. He reiterated that currently the maintenance
of the earth road is costly and has exhausted gravel materials from the
property and water has also become scarce. Such costs could otherwise be used
to support conservation and human community development efforts within the
conservation area.

The on-going 41st
session of the World Heritage Committee meeting which is attended by all 193 State
Parties to the convention is expected to deliberate on a number of important
issues regarding conservation and protection of the World heritage Site
including the nomination of the new sites to the World Heritage List submitted
by other State Parties. The meeting will end on 12th July, 2017.

9th July, 2017


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