Conservation and Society

: 2007  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 562--587

Staying Afloat: State Agencies, Local Communities, and International Involvement in Marine Protected Area Management in Zanzibar, Tanzania

Arielle Levine 
 Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720 USA; Current affiliation: Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, 2570 Dole Street, Honolulu, HI, 96822, USA

Correspondence Address:
Arielle Levine
Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, 2570 Dole Street, Honolulu, HI, 96822


As funding for international conservation initiatives has shifted away from directly supporting developing states towards privatisation and decentralisation in natural resource management, developing countries are working increasingly through international NGOs and private sector organi­sations to support protected areas. The government of Zanzibar has come up with an innovative system to guarantee access to international funds through its Environmental Management for Sustainable Development Act. This Act strategically enables external organisations to be designated as protected area managers while maintaining a role for the state as an intermediary in reaching local communities. The positive outcome is that it allows protected areas to be established when government resources are limited, but it also es­tablishes a dynamic where the state«SQ»s struggle to maintain power and rele­vance has negative implications for programme outcomes and sustainability. In the case of Zanzibar«SQ»s marine protected areas, this system results in many challenges, including confusion over the links between conservation and de­velopment objectives, the limitations of ecotourism as a development strategy, the uneven concentration of programme resources, a lack of institutional in­vestment in protected area programmes, and the negative implications for lo­cal capacity building if in future the state could be threatened by a strong civil society. More attention must be given to acknowledging the role played by the Zanzibari state, as well as strengthening local initiatives for natural resource protection.

How to cite this article:
Levine A. Staying Afloat: State Agencies, Local Communities, and International Involvement in Marine Protected Area Management in Zanzibar, Tanzania.Conservat Soc 2007;5:562-587

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Levine A. Staying Afloat: State Agencies, Local Communities, and International Involvement in Marine Protected Area Management in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Conservat Soc [serial online] 2007 [cited 2020 Sep 23 ];5:562-587
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SINCE INDEPENDENCE in 1961, the government of Tanzania has viewed its parks and protected areas as an important source of international exchange to support its economic development. Today, over 25 per cent of Tanzania's land surface (Leader-Williams et al. 1996) and a growing proportion of its ocean waters have been set aside for natural resource conservation. Tourism to parks and protected areas contributes approximately 14 per cent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (EU 2003), making it the second largest earner of foreign exchange in the country (Barrow et al. 2000). Protected ar­eas also bring in substantial financial support from international conservation and development agencies; over the past 10 years, the World Bank alone has provided the country with over $130 million in loans and approximately $27 million in Global Environment Facility (GEF) grants to support natural re­source and protected area management (World Bank 2006).

While crucial to the country's economic development, the establishment of these protected areas has also caused rural hardship through land expropria­tion and lost access to resources, bringing about numerous instances of con­flict between rural people and protected area managers (Anderson & Grove 1987). By the end of the 1980s, international conservation and development organisations worldwide were beginning to acknowledge the importance of involving local people in natural resource management (NRM) programmes, or at least providing communities with financial benefits derived from parks and protected areas (Hulme & Murphree 2001). 'Community-based conserva­tion' became conventional wisdom in park and protected area management, and, by the end of the 1990s, it was hard to find a protected area in Tanzania that did not have a community-based component.

At the same time, notions of community-based conservation were coming to the forefront in international conservation and development circles. The lending patterns of international financial institutions and multi- and bi-lateral aid agencies were undergoing a shift. With the end of the cold war, a new neoliberal consensus emerged that focused on reducing the role of the state and promoting market liberalisation, causing formerly de rigueur state­centred models of development to fall out of favour. International develop­ment assistance shifted away from funding what were now seen as bloated and inefficient state structures, focusing instead on decentralisation, creating an enabling environment for the private sector, and increasing the involve­ment of 'civil society'.

In addition, the importance of environmental issues and notions of 'local participation' (Serageldin 1996) and 'sustainable development' (World Com­mission on Environment and Development1987) were becoming the focus of conservation and development discourse at this time. Lenders looked for pro­grammes that would be environmentally sustainable, yet shift authority away from national governments and into the hands of local communities and the private sector. Community-based conservation programmes fit neatly into this model, providing a perfect funding target for international development agen­cies. International non-governmental organisations (NGOs), in particular, came into prominence as new recipients of substantial funding for 'integrated conservation-development' programmes (Edwards & Hulme 1996; Levine 2002a; Chapin 2004). Ecotourism was also touted as having tremendous po­tential to sustainably finance environmental protection (Honey 1999), fitting well with neoliberal priorities of decentralisation and increased private sector involvement. Park and protected areas shifted from being managed predomi­nantly by the state (with substantial support from international NGOs and de­velopment funding) to the more direct involvement of international NGOs, private-sector entities, and local communities as natural resource managers.

This shift in funding patterns left developing states in a situation where they needed to find alternative means to maintain access to international de­velopment funds to support NRM programmes, as well as ensure their own relevance and existence under an increasingly neoliberal world order. The government of Zanzibar [1] , a set of islands which lie off the coast of mainland Tanzania, has developed a creative strategy to support park and protected area management under this new situation of international funding priorities through its implementation of the Environmental Management for Sustainable Development Act of 1996 (Government of Zanzibar 1997). This Act strategi­cally enables the involvement of external institutions, be they international NGOs or private sector agencies, as official managers of the islands' protected areas. However, while the Act allows the Zanzibari state to remove itself from managerial responsibility over these areas, it still guarantees a strong level of state involvement and access to funding. The state remains the sole institution with the power to designate alternative institutions to serve as protected area managers, and it holds a position of 'gatekeeper', permitting suitable external agencies gain access to local communities [2] . International organisations must work through the state to both gain official management authority and reach the local level and have a 'community' component in their programmes.

While the Act provides the strategic means to maintain the needed access to international funding sources for the establishment and management of pro­tected areas in Zanzibar, it also sets up a convoluted relationship between the Zanzibari state, external management agencies, and local communities, the outcome of which is not necessarily conducive to the long-term sustainability of these NRM programmes. While neoliberal development policies work to peripheralise the role of the state, state actors remain intent on maintaining their roles as intermediaries between 'local communities' and international donors, which gives them access to international development funding as well as direct influence at the community level. This means that state actors are re­luctant to strengthen the capacity of community members to address environ­mental issues on their own, but rather work to perpetuate community dependence on the state. In their efforts to maintain this dependence, the state actors can actually undermine locally initiated conservation structures and policies, thereby defeating a central goal of 'participatory' development mod­els. International conservation NGOs and private-sector conservation organi­sations remain quietly complicit actors in this dynamic, not wanting to jeopardise their access to rural communities or their positive programme im­age with external sponsors.

This article describes the system of external involvement in protected area management in Zanzibar, how it has evolved, as well as its implications at the local level, particularly within Zanzibar's four marine protected area pro­grammes [3] . I first outline the history of protected area management in Zanzibar and the emerging focus on marine protected areas and local community in­volvement. I then describe the establishment of Zanzibar's specific legisla­tion, which formally enables the external management of its protected areas as a means to ensure continued access to international funding and resources. Fi­nally, I elaborate upon the challenges facing conservation programmes under these dynamic, using specific examples from the islands' four marine protected areas. The outcomes of this system of external management suggest that more attention needs to be paid to the implications of this new role played by exter­nal agencies, as well as the ways that the state continues to struggle to maintain power, influence, and access to funding under neoliberal policies. Indeed actions designed to reduce the role played by the state may, perversely, undermine ef­forts to strengthen local community capacity and conservation initiatives.

 Natural Resource Conservation in Zanzibar

While Zanzibar has been a part of Tanzania since its union with the mainland in 1964, the island retains its own semi-autonomous government for most in­ternal matters, including NRM. Like the mainland, the Zanzibari government embraced a policy of state-centred socialism after independence, but was forced to undergo tremendous cut-backs and reform through structural ad­justment during the 1980s and 90s. In particular, adjustment reforms focused on reducing the size of the public sector and encouraging private sector in­vestment. The programme focused heavily on developing the tourist industry to increase foreign exchange, and the total number of hotels in Zanzibar shot up from only ten in 1983 to 150 in 1995. Foreign donors, encouraged by these liberalisation measures, increased their aid and grants to Zanzibar, and 80 per­cent of public investments in Zanzibar during the late 80s and early 90s were financed by international donor funding (Chachage 2000).

Although the islands of Zanzibar do not contain the same charismatic wild­life resources found on the mainland, a sizeable amount of foreign aid to Zan­zibar has been channelled into natural resource protection. Deforestation, in particular, was considered to be a pressing concern. In the 1980s, Finnish In­ternational Development Agency (FINNIDA) began working with Zanzibar's forestry department to establish a number of forest plantations to alleviate some of the pressure on the islands' remaining forest resources. However, these programmes often involved relocating local villagers, and episodes of arson and rural resistance became common around forest plantations and re­serves (Chachage 2000).

With the growing imperative of community participation in the 1990s, in­ternational donors, working largely through NGOs, became involved in estab­lishing community-based conservation programmes in the developing world. For example, Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE) ini­tiated a community-based forest conservation programme in Zanzibar around the Jozani Forest Reserve. The Jozani Environmental Conservation Associa­tion (JECA), a local village-based NGO, was established by CARE in 1995 to involve local residents in natural NRM activities and in sharing revenues from the reserve (Bagile & Said 2000).

The private sector also became involved in conservation through ecotour­ism, which was promoted as a means of providing sustainable funding for en­vironmental protection and community development. Chumbe Island Coral Park (CHICOP), for example, was established in 1992 as a protected area managed by CHICOP Ltd., an ecotourism venture that runs a hotel on the is­land, patrols and monitors the protected area, and is engaged in community outreach and education activities (Reidmiller 2000).

 A New Focus on Marine Conservation

While attention has long been devoted to issues of terrestrial conservation in Tanzania, marine conservation has only recently come into the spotlight. In­creasing international attention to the precarious state of the world's rapidly deteriorating marine resources has brought new international pressure and sources of funding for the establishment of marine protected areas worldwide (Cole-King 1993; Sloan 2002). While the Tanzanian government had desig­nated a few small marine reserves off the coast of Dar es Salaam in 1975, these protected areas were not fully implemented until the Marine Parks and Reserves Act was ratified in 1994 (Spaulding et. al. 2001), when the majority of marine conservation activity began (see [Table 1]).

The number of marine protected areas in Tanzania rapidly doubled after 1994, and all of Zanzibar's marine protected area programmes were estab­lished during this period. Many of these programmes were initiated during the same period that the international agencies and protected area managers were acknowledging the importance of community-based conservation methods, and therefore do not have (yet) the same history of conflict as terrestrial pro­tected areas in Tanzania [4] . Marine protected areas have thus provided a novel opportunity to pilot innovative conservation initiatives in collaboration with local community and user groups, as almost all these programmes were initi­ated with some form of local community component.

Zanzibar, with its extensive coastline, coral reefs, and new emphasis on coastal and marine-based tourism, has become a focal point for marine con­servation efforts in Tanzania. Four marine protected areas were established in Zanzibar during the 1990s: Chumbe Island Coral Park, Mnemba Island Ma­rine Conservation Area, Menai Bay Marine Conservation Area, and Misali Is­land Conservation Area [Figure 1]. Each of these protected areas attempts to combine marine conservation with the interests of local communities, primar­ily through involving local villages in the management of these areas and/or providing them with benefits derived from conservation. As with the majority of the conservation programmes in Tanzania, these areas are each funded and managed primarily by an external international organisation, two of which are NGOs and two of which are private sector ecotourism operators [Table 2].

Many new experiments are currently underway to work with local commu­nities around marine protected areas, often incorporating techniques piloted in terrestrial community-based conservation programmes. However, establishing protected areas in marine environments is a much newer endeavour, and the social, institutional, technological, and information systems are not as well developed for marine ecosystems and marine dependent communities as they are for land-based conservation strategies (Sloan 2002). Marine conservation faces additional challenges in that user groups are often diffuse and hard to define as traditional 'communities'; the resources are difficult to monitor; and aquatic borders are difficult to demarcate and enforce. While terrestrial community-based conservation generally focuses on involving local residents, fisheries resources are often used by people who come from great distances and local 'resident' communities may not exist. The exclusive involvement of nearby communities may overlook the influence and importance of other key resource users. Although land expropriation is rare in the establishment of marine protected areas, the creation of protected areas that are off-limits to fishing creates the potential for a wide range of marine-dependent communi­ties to lose access to an important resource base.

 Protected Area Management in Zanzibar

While the heavy involvement of external organisations in the protection of marine resources in Zanzibar is not atypical for Tanzania, what is unusual is that the Zanzibari government has established specific legislation allowing ex­ternal organisations to be designated as managers of the country's protected areas. The Zanzibari state is heavily reliant on international institutions to support NRM on the islands, as it lacks adequate financial and technical re­sources to independently fund and manage its protected areas. However, maintaining access to international donor assistance has presented a chal­lenge. The islands suffered constraints in donor assistance (similar to the mainland) during the 1980s and 1990s. Corruption and human rights viola­tions associated with the Zanzibar elections in 1995 and 2000 also caused many international donors to freeze development assistance to the islands un­til the election accords in 2001, leaving Zanzibar's government further strapped for financial resources during this period (Bigg 1996; UNDP 2006).

The Environmental Management for Sustainable Development Act ad­dresses this severe lack of resources by establishing a National Protected Area Board of Zanzibar [5] . The Act specifically enables the Board to delegate the management of a particular protected area to institutions or individuals not employed by the government, stating that the Board "may delegate in writing any of the National Protected Areas Board's powers except its power to rec­ommend national protected area status … for the national protected areas sys­tem" (Government of Zanzibar 1997). "Any person qualified to exercise those powers" may be appointed, thus opening the door to NGOs, the private sector, and local communities to become officially involved in protected area man­agement.

Currently the government still retains authority to designate protected areas and delegate management powers, but the major responsibility of the man­agement of Zanzibar's marine protected areas lies in the hands of international NGOs and private sector agencies. The shift in donor priorities away from supporting state programmes forced the Zanzibari state to reconsider how it would obtain support for new and existing programmes. In drawing up this Act, the Zanzibari state opened up a strategic avenue for the direct involve­ment of both NGOs and private sector operators in managing and funding conservation programmes. Though removing itself from the position of offi­cial protected area manager, the state still maintains control over designating protected areas, selecting external managing institutions, and approving their programmes.

The international consensus around the importance of involving local communities in conservation programmes has ensured that each of the exter­nal institutions managing Zanzibar's protected areas has incorporated a com­munity component into its management plan. However, it is nearly impossible for these external organisations to engage directly with local communities without working through pre-existing state structures. Foreign institutions lack the knowledge and local legitimacy required to work directly with local communities, therefore they must work with the Zanzibari state in order to gain community access. Under this dynamic, the state places itself as a 'gate­keeper' (Bratton 1989; Sandberg 1994), allowing and facilitating the entree of international actors to the local level. The state is therefore temporarily re­moved from protected area management, and then reinstated through its role in facilitating NGO or private-sector programmes. This creates a complex and convoluted relationship between external protected area managers, the gov­ernment, and local communities, which is not necessarily conducive to build­ing strong and sustainable conservation programmes.

This apparently dysfunctional dynamic does, however, serve a functional purpose. On the one hand, it provides a means for state actors to gain access to external resources from foreign donors and maintain their influence at the village level (see Bayart 1993). On the other, it allows the externally spon­sored conservation programmes to reach otherwise inaccessible rural communities, a required component of their 'participatory' programmes. This 'work­ing misunderstanding' (Rawlence 2005) between international lenders and state agents in the pursuit of 'community-based' programmes facilitates the disbursement of development funding, but does little to facilitate a non­interventionist role for the state, nor does it work to increase real local capac­ity for protected area management [6] . On the ground, this dynamic has also re­sulted in a number of consequences that are contrary to the aims of project sponsors and fail to serve the interests of strengthening local conservation ini­tiatives and civil society.

International involvement has provided the much-needed funding and ex­pertise to assist in the protection of Zanzibar's marine resources. However, it has also brought with it new challenges in promoting effective community­based conservation programmes that will be sustainable in the long-term [7] . The existing community-based marine conservation programmes in Zanzibar re­veal the various outcomes of this situation, which are discussed in more detail in the following section. The data was collected during field work conducted between 2001-2004, through in-depth interviews with hundreds of commu­nity-members living in conservation programme villages and focus group dis­cussions with fishermen from programme villages [8] . In addition, programme representatives from NGOs, government, and private sector agencies were in­terviewed to obtain more detailed information about the conservation pro­grammes' organisation, history, programmes, and policies.

 Challenges in Linking Conservation and Development

While Zanzibar's marine protected areas have officially been established for the purposes of natural resource conservation, the external agencies involved in managing them generally have additional motivations and priorities. Issues such as gender equity and promoting micro-enterprise development are inte­gral to integrated conservation-development programmes, and combining these elements in programme implementation can increase access to a variety of sources of donor funding. Unfortunately, the multiplicity of programme goals also sometimes results in confusion regarding the purpose of a conser­vation programme, particularly at the village level, where multiple (and seem­ingly unrelated) demands and expectations are placed on villagers, who are expected to enthusiastically participate in these 'community-based' pro­grammes, whatever this may happen to entail in practice.

While the links between ecotourism, alternative income generation, and environmental protection may be intuitive to donors, they are not always ap­parent to villagers. Local residents often viewed the two protected area pro­grammes managed by private sector operators (Mnemba Island and Chumbe Island) primarily as profit-oriented businesses, in spite of their protected area status, generally downplaying the protected areas' conservation and community-development programmes. When asked to describe these programmes, approximately 75 per cent of the local villagers defined them as either a busi­ness venture or a hotel. Villagers in Mnemba were often careful to clarify that this was a business venture "for the government, not for us". Only a small percentage in Mnemba (eleven) and Chumbe (fourteen), defined the islands as protected areas.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that projects sponsored by the Mnemba programme have been interpreted by villagers in ways that were not intended by their donors. In early 2004, Mnemba Island Lodge, in partnership with other development donors, tried to provide assistance to local fishermen through the placement of an off-shore fish aggregating device (FAD). This device is a type of buoy designed to attract and cluster pelagic fish and make offshore fishing easier, thus increasing local fish-catches and reducing fishing impacts on near-shore reefs. When told about the programme at a village meeting, local fishermen were sceptical, and many vehemently chanted, "hatutaki boya!" ("we don't want a buoy!"). Villagers associated the FADs with the placement of buoys used by conservation programmes to mark no­fishing zones. While this seeming refusal of development assistance surprised the hotel and development agency representatives funding the project, the vil­lagers were suspicious and found it difficult to connect conservation and de­velopment assistance. They had already lost access to Mnemba Island as a fishing ground, and they feared the programme was trying to expand its boundaries to make additional areas off-limits to fishing, using deception as a means to obtain their approval. As it turned out, these fears were not entirely unfounded; the protected area boundaries did in fact expand subsequently.

In contrast to private-sector programmes, the majority of villagers involved in the Misali Island Conservation Area Programme, sponsored by CARE In­ternational, were aware that the island programme was established for conser­vation purposes. However, many of them had differing interpretations regarding the role of the local community-based NGO, the Misali Island Con­servation Association (MICA), which had been established by CARE to in­volve local fishermen in conservation activities. Fishermen frequently equated this organisation with the village-based savings and credit programme that was also being promoted by CARE in certain villages. While conservation may be encouraged through improved access to savings and credit in rural vil­lages and provide alternative sources of income to natural resource extrac­tion [9] , this is far from intuitive to most of the villagers involved in the programme, who often claimed that MICA was "a bank". The linking of busi­ness and conservation is, however, entirely consistent with current neoliberal policy agendas. Private sector activities, such as ecotourism, have come to be seen as one of the primary sources of money for conservation and sustainable development.

 The Limits of Ecotourism in Zanzibar

Ecotourism is a key element of each of Zanzibar's marine protected area programmes. Viewed as a means to finance programme expenses, ecotourism is looked upon favourably by international donors as an efficient way to involve the private sector in sustainably financing conservation and development. In­deed, for private sector agencies, tourism revenue is generally the primary source of programme funding. Ecotourism is a profitable niche market, and community and environmental programmes provide positive publicity and can help to ensure good local relations. For NGOs, tourism is seen as a promising means of providing locally-generated funding to ensure a programme's finan­cial sustainability into the future. It is also touted as a means of providing al­ternative sources of income to local fishermen, potentially reducing local dependency on and exploitation of marine resources.

A Fickle Industry

However, the unquestioned promises of tourism, and the focus on ecotourism as a reliable means to finance protected areas, ignore a number of problems inherent in this industry. It can be fickle and fluctuates dramatically. Tourism in Zanzibar booms during the cool dry summer season, but crashes during the rainy season. Though predictable, these seasonal fluctuations mean tremen­dous hardship during the lean season for those employed by the tourist indus­try, as the rains also slow fishing, farming, and other industries, providing few alternative sources of employment during that time of year.

Other types of fluctuations are not so predictable. Zanzibar's tourist indus­try has also been hit hard by both local and international politics in the past decade. Instability around Zanzibar's elections in 1995 and 2000 had an ad­verse effect on tourism (Zanzibar Ministry of Finance 2003). The attacks of September 11, 2001 also caused a drop in international tourism world-wide, which lasted several years. Zanzibar, which is predominantly Muslim, was hit particularly hard. Subsequent terrorist attacks in Bali and Mombasa and asso­ciated travel warnings caused tourism to the islands to suddenly slump during the normally heavy Christmas holiday season in January of 2003, with tour­ism down 21 per cent during the first half of that year [10] . Moreover, the popu­larity of different tourist destinations wax and wane according to the economies of developed countries, the fickle preferences of tourists them­selves, and a host of other variables well beyond the control of local people.

Is Tourism 'Eco'?

The environmental implications of increasing tourist activity in remote, envi­ronmentally sensitive locations are not often evaluated when ecotourism is promoted as a conservation and development strategy. Tourism, while less damaging to marine resources than certain destructive fishing methods, can still have substantial environmental impacts (Hawkins et al. 1999), and the to­tal ecological footprint of the Western tourist is significantly deeper than that of the local people. Increased tourist visitation also provides additional de­mand for high-value fish species; in fact, the average tourist consumes more protein, water, and energy resources than local residents in the developing world. These local impacts also do not account for the greenhouse gases emit­ted while travelling to remote, 'pristine' locations or the ecologically unsus­tainable consumer-driven economies that make this travel possible in the first place.

Local Perceptions of Tourism

Though it is touted as a promising alternative to conventional tourism for its ability to promote ecological sustainability and local community develop­ment, ecotourism programmes do not necessarily bring about positive rela­tionships with local communities. If local residents view the promotion of tourism businesses as the primary reason for the establishment of marine pro­tected area programmes, they are unlikely to value these programmes as im­portant to supporting their own resource base and livelihoods. Rather, they may view these programmes as exclusionary, profit-seeking endeavours of foreigners, a perception that clashes dramatically with the goals of creating 'community-based' conservation programmes.

Indeed, the residents of Matemwe, the shehia [11] that lies in closest proximity to Mnemba Island, illustrate this perception dramatically. Matemwe villagers frequently complained of the broken promises and misrepresentations of facts when the hotel and the protected area were established; they believe that tour­ists are valued more highly than local residents. An oft-repeated story told by Matemwe residents, which serves as a metaphor for how local residents are viewed by the hotel management, involves the extermination of rats on the is­land, intended to make the island a more pleasant and appealing tourist desti­nation. As one villager described:

When the first owner came, we were told that the hotel would have half of Mnemba and we would get the other half. Then one day we were told that we shouldn't land on the island because they had put down poison to get rid of the rats, so the island was poisonous to us. We waited, but after that we were never allowed to land again… we didn't realise it at the time, but the rats they were trying to get rid of were us [12] .

Similarly, villagers involved in the Menai Bay project expressed ambivalence about the NGO-sponsored programme's emphasis on tourism. Many were ex­cited about the new opportunities for employment in the tourist sector that had come to their village. Others, however, were more sceptical about the motivations of the project, particularly its solicitation of a two-dollar contribution from tourist operations. Fishermen from Fumba village, in particular, cited what they perceived to be corruption amongst the project officers. As one Fumba fisherman stated:

Truthfully, this project has been given a lot of money by donors and they have not done one thing of meaning; they've used all of this money and they've done nothing… They say they do patrols (against destruc­tive fishing), but they don't do this - - they just take tourists out to make money… They say that this money will help the village, but this isn't true. If they get money they 'eat' it themselves and it doesn't help any­thing here. Now many people in Fumba don't believe in Menai.

 Uneven Concentration of Programme Resources

The reliance on external managers for Zanzibar's protected areas also has im­plications for the way programme resources are distributed. Donor visits to assess the progress of international development programmes are generally brief, often involving a short field visit to gain a sense of programme out­comes on the ground. There is pressure to produce rapid visible results for donors, glossing over local contextual differences and the need to build endur­ing structures for local capacity for self-sufficiency (Cooke & Kothari 2001; Mansuri & Rao 2004). A simple way for programme sponsors to give the im­pression of a strong programme is to concentrate resources in a few areas, creating 'showcase villages' for visiting donors and for publicity purposes. A showcase village must be relatively easy to access (as donor time is limited), have a supportive community base, and demonstrate obvious improvements that stem directly from programme resources in order to quickly create a fa­vourable impression (cf. Chambers 1983).

A bias already exists in the selection of villages to participate in commu­nity-based programmes (Plateau 2003), particularly for 'showcase villages'. Communities that are relatively easy to reach with low transportation costs, a strong infrastructural base, and good access to markets are more likely to be selected for programme inclusion, will generally receive a greater amount of attention, and are more likely to be the targets of donor visitation (Chambers 1983). However, the outcome of this selection bias is that the least marginal­ised communities tend to receive the most donor resources, while less acces­sible communities with the greatest need for development resources are further marginalised. While this is a practical way of obtaining the most visi­ble village-level results from programme resources, it also serves to exacer­bate inequality.

In Menai Bay, for example, village-level reactions to the World Wide Fund for Nature's (WWFs) conservation programme vary dramatically. The village of Kizimkazi-Dimbani, perhaps unintentionally, has become a showcase village for the Menai Bay programme. Although Kizimkazi is far from the pro­ject headquarters located in the town, a well-maintained paved road runs all the way to the village, where a number of tour operators are based, allowing easy access to the open ocean. Kizimkazi serves as the base for the pro­gramme's patrol boats and radio headquarters, providing a visible deterrent to illegal fishermen in the area, as well as an impressive sight for visiting do­nors.

The village of Fumba contrasts dramatically with Kizimkazi. Although the village is located much closer to the project headquarters, the poor condition of the road makes it difficult to reach the village. A common complaint among many fishermen is that programme officials do not come to their vil­lages, and indeed these officers rarely do make the gruelling trip to Fumba. Fumba is located on the opposite side of the Bay from the patrol base in Kizimkazi, making it difficult for the patrol boats to reach the village in a timely manner to intercept illegal fishermen. Additionally, the programme is often short of funds to fuel the patrol boat, meaning that even if a fisherman from Fumba calls in an incidence of illegal fishing, the boat may never come. While the highly visible presence of the patrol boats in Kizimkazi serves as a deterrent to illegal fishing in that area, fishermen in Fumba do not believe that the programme has helped to significantly reduce illegal fishing near their vil­lage. Fumba residents have complained that locating two boats in Kizimkazi across the Bay is not beneficial to other villages; to the programme staff, however, it is certainly simpler to be able to show outside donors the patrol boats when they are both located in a single easily accessible location.

The fact that Kizimkazi Dimbani has become a showcase village for the Menai programme has contributed to the further concentration of programme attention and resources in the village. It has also opened up additional oppor­tunities for tourism. As one villager from Kizimkazi Dimbani stated:

The village benefits because many youth get employment when indeed our own government says that there are no jobs… our village has be­come well known because many different visitors come here… and many make contributions.

However, the concentration of tourism resources in only a few areas has led to jealousy between villages that are not benefiting as much from the pro­gramme. Villages that lie outside of the protected area programme boundaries often wonder why they do not receive any benefits though they lie close to the protected area and may rely on it for subsistence. Villages that receive less programme attention may perceive this inequity and become resentful. As a fisherman in Fumba stated:

The people of Menai aren't honest… Although the project appears to be doing things for the environment, still… destructive fishing occurs even though the project has boats to enforce the law. Therefore there is no need to pay to make their (the project officers') ) stomachs fat - - it is meaningless.

 Lack of Institutional Investment in Protected Area Programmes

In addition to the problematic dynamics outlined above, external management of protected areas relegates the Zanzibari state to a peripheral role in NRM, which is not conducive to fostering state responsibility or sound governance. External agencies, which are not liable as the state for the long-term outcome of programmes, nor ultimately accountable to local communities, enjoy man­agement authority over Zanzibar's protected areas. Conversely the state, which had tighter control over NRM, is no longer as directly involved in man­aging conservation programmes, nor is it held directly accountable for pro­gramme outcomes. In this context, state actors may view external managing institutions as sources of much-needed supplemental revenue, and conserva­tion programmes and as rent-seeking opportunities. Perpetuating continued donor involvement in these programmes to guarantee an uninterrupted flow of external funds thus becomes a higher priority than the programmes' actual conservation and community goals.

Additionally, the short time-scale involved in planning and funding interna­tionally-sponsored development projects has negative implications for their long-term sustainability. International donor funding cycles generally provide grants with terms of 3 to 5 years, and international programme sponsors have no obligation to continue supporting a project in the long-term. If an interna­tional donor decides to pull out, the state lacks the commitment and the re­sources necessary to guarantee the continuance of the programmes started by the donor agencies. A senior official in Zanzibar's Forestry Department de­scribed this situation:

The effect of such (a) system has already emerged. In Zanzibar we have seen (a) few international NGOs working in protected areas faced with real challenges have decided to pull out, leaving the government agen­cies cleaning the mess. Many of us understand the situation, but we are not in (a) position to change policy decisions (of) the funding agen­cies [13].

Furthermore, government departments may be less likely to support or enforce a conservation initiative that does not channel funds to their own specific de­partment, causing programme operations to run less smoothly and potentially undercutting the legal enforcement of protected area regulations. This was a particular challenge when the Menai Bay programme established a system of local patrolling against illegal fishing in the protected area. With these increased patrolling efforts, 167 fishermen were brought to court and charged with illegal fishing practices between 1997 and 1999 (Ngaga et al. 1999). While villagers have reported a reduction in dynamite fishing in the bay since the programme was initiated, they complain that fishermen who are prose­cuted are rarely punished in any substantial way. Less than a quarter of those brought to court were actually fined (Ngaga et al. 1999), providing little dis­incentive for the use of illegal fishing nets in the area. Although laws against illegal fishing are clearly outlined, there is a lack of awareness of these regu­lations in government departments not dealing with the Menai Bay pro­gramme, as well as a lack of government cooperation in upholding these regulations if the project does not benefit their department in any way.

 Implications for Local Capacity-Building

The peripheralisation of the state in these community-based conservation pro­grammes also provides government agencies with little incentive to work to increase local capacity for independent participation in natural NRM. Al­though local participation and capacity building are stated goals of Zanzibar's community-based conservation programmes, the creation of strong civil soci­ety structures potentially threatens the state's position as an intermediary be­tween local communities and external sponsoring institutions. Too much self­sufficiency at the village level would undercut the necessity of state involve­ment in conservation programmes. Under these circumstances, the state has a perverse incentive to work to maintain a degree of village dependency [14] , thus guaranteeing its own role as a 'gatekeeper' and the associated access to donor resources [15] .

Securing the State's Role as Intermediary

The Menai Bay programme illustrates the ways in which the state works to secure its own position as an intermediary between rural communities and outside donors. When the WWF arrived to initiate conservation programmes in the bay, it had no pre-existing village-level legitimacy or mechanisms for contacting or working with Menai Bay communities. The international NGO therefore had to rely upon the Department of Fisheries to assist with imple­menting all village-level programmes. WWF, in turn, has provided important sources of support to the Department of Fisheries, such as transportation and salary top-ups in the form of per diems for village visits.

The Department of Fisheries has been generally cooperative with WWF, but this has been contingent on receiving revenue and resources from the in­ternational NGO. For example, Fisheries' employees involved in the Menai programme delayed village conservation committee elections for months be­cause they had not yet received a stipend to visit the villages and host the elections. Arguably, 'community-based' elections could be held by the villagers themselves, but village members in the Menai programme were told to wait until the staff could arrive to assist them, perpetuating dependence on the state for programme operation. In the village Muongoni, villagers were finally told to meet for local elections in April of 2002, and they waited all afternoon for programme officers to arrive. The officers finally reached the village at the end of the day to say that they had been delayed elsewhere and would have to reschedule elections for another day, wasting the villagers' time and testing their patience.

Indeed, neither the state nor WWF has any real incentive for local capacity­building, nor any accountability to local communities. The state is primarily accountable to WWF, as they need to ensure the international NGO's contin­ued presence as the financial sponsor of the programme. WWF, in turn, is primarily accountable to its international funding sources and membership base. The communities, therefore, have little say in programme priorities and operations. This shifts programme priorities away from responsibility to local communities and guaranteeing long-term environmental and social viability and instead towards creating a favourable impression for donors to ensure the maintenance of a continuous flow of international funds (Edwards & Hulme 1996). Ensuring publicity, whether through publishing glossy reports and bro­chures or through the creation of showcase villages, can become more impor­tant than actual programme results, causing programme resources to be channelled in ways that are not conducive (and sometimes even detrimental) to building local capacity.

Undercutting Local Initiatives and Ignoring Local Particularities

If an external organisation desires to establish and implement a conservation programme across multiple villages within a region, it is much simpler to cre­ate a programme based on a single model rather than to try and incorporate the contextual differences of each village into its design. This can result in 'cookie-cutter' approaches to conservation and development that are imple­mented uniformly across villages, often disregarding local particularities or independent local initiatives. Uniform programmes may be easier to design, administer, and control [16] ; however, it is crucial to take into account local con­textual differences [17] and pre-existing systems for natural NRM if community­based conservation programmes are to be successful in the long-term.

Fumba village in Menai Bay provides an example of how failure to work with pre-existing community structures precipitated problematic programme outcomes. The fishermen in Fumba had established their own village conser­vation committee in the early 1980s to fight the increasing incursion of de­structive fishing into their area. With the help of donor funding, they later expanded this committee to work with five other villages in the Fumba penin­sula to more extensively patrol the region. They expressed pride in their work, claiming that "people in Fumba were the first to protect the environment".

When the Menai project officers came to Fumba, they asked the villagers to disassemble their local village conservation committee and create a new one under the structure and auspices of the Menai Bay programme. The villagers willingly complied, expecting to receive increased support and resources from the programme.

Unfortunately, they were then abandoned by the project. Programme offi­cers stopped coming to their village, and the patrol boat never reached their area. Some villagers were outraged enough to state that programme officers were no longer welcome in Fumba. Much of this anger stems from the feeling that the Menai project had undermined the efforts that the villagers had initi­ated. As Fumba fishermen stated:

Here we were teachers for other areas, but the project removed us… now people from here have had their hearts broken - they don't con­tinue (to work to protect the environment).

Our strength has decreased because we have gotten nothing, it all goes to Kizimkazi…We've gotten no tools to protect against anything. Peo­ple from the Menai project… have stopped coming completely.

The Menai programme officers made promises to assist the Fumba conserva­tion committee, demanding that they restructure their local systems for con­servation, but then never followed through on their promises. In fact, the programme had the effect of undercutting previously existing structures of marine resource management in Fumba, leaving nothing in their place. Many cite the increase in illegal nets in as a major problem, and they are frustrated that the programme focuses its efforts on the other side of the Bay while their area is more vulnerable to destructive fishing.

The failure to work with pre-existing village-based conservation structures, and, in fact, to go a step further and undermine these structures, seems con­trary to the stated goals of community-based conservation, these actions po­tentially make sense when viewed in the context of the peripheralisation of the Zanzibari state and external management of the islands' protected areas. In order to ensure its position as a vital intermediary between local communi­ties and international donors, the state must be able to influence village con­servation committees' actions and membership. Strong community-level structures (such as those present in Fumba in the past) threaten this position, as the state lacks control or influence over these organisations. Thus the state has little incentive to work to strengthen these types of institutions, preferring to create community-level organisations itself (cf. Rawlence 2005).


Protected areas in Zanzibar have been successfully established in a context where the government lacks the funding and resources to manage these areas on its own. External funding has enabled increased patrolling efforts inside protected area boundaries, and most of these areas are now better protected from illegal resource extraction and destructive practices than they would be without protection, or with only the nominal protection that the Zanzibari government could afford. However, the often strained relationship between states, external managers, and local communities causes many problems with these partnerships. Furthermore, the undermining of local management capac­ity has also led to negative ecological consequences both in and outside of protected areas. The international funding dynamic that works to peripheralise the state's role in natural NRM may also threaten the long-term sustainability of these programmes as each of the different actors in the protected area man­agement programmes struggle for power, resources, and relevancy.

Unfortunately, this dynamic has created an incentive to undercut locally initiated structures in order to guarantee the state's role as a vital intermedi­ary, as well as to create more uniform and legible programmes through the creation of 'cookie-cutter' models of conservation. This has been destructive to both community relations as well as long-term environmental outcomes. In the case of Fumba, the dismantling of the local conservation committee not only created resentment against the programme, but it also left the village without any effective village-based committee or patrol system to address the growing problem of illegal fishing in the area. The strategic concentration of programme resources in a single 'showcase village' also reduced the pro­gramme's ability to provide other villages with assistance in resource protec­tion. Local fishermen in several villages have complained that illegal fishing is on the rise, but they are powerless to stop it.

The reliance primarily on external funding sources and tourism revenue bodes poorly for the stability and long-term sustainability of these pro­grammes. Trends in international donor funding and tourist destinations are constantly shifting, and what may be popular now may not be so in the future. Most fundamentally, Zanzibar's tourist economy depends on international stability and the continued availability of cheap jet fuel, which is no longer guaranteed in the current global political economy.

All of these forces are beyond the control of rural communities, which pre­viously depended primarily on locally controlled economies for their liveli­hoods. It is difficult for these communities to continually adapt to changing international priorities, particularly when the links between tourism, conserva­tion and sustainable development may not be entirely clear to them. Commu­nity participation is a stated priority in all of these programmes, but they are still predominantly structured, funded and managed by international organisa­tions, with little accountability to the communities they purport to involve.

While development rhetoric focuses heavily on building local capacity for community-based conservation initiatives, in reality these programmes face numerous challenges that must be addressed at multiple levels beyond focus­ing abstractly on strengthening 'civil society', increasing the involvement of NGOs and creating an enabling environment for the private sector. More con­sideration must be given to the unanticipated roles played by state actors and agencies that are likely to resist being pushed out of the picture under neolib­eral policies of development. The failure of development programmes is fre­quently blamed on host government 'corruption' and 'mismanagement' without recognising the ways that neoliberal policies have contributed to cor­ruption and mismanagement through the creation of extra-legal transnational networks, which include actors from the ostensibly separate realms of state, NGO, and for-profit sectors (Brockington & Igoe 2006; Ferguson 2006). In Zanzibar, the state's struggle for continued relevancy has created an unex­pected dynamic between the state, international donors, and local communi­ties that threatens the long-term sustainability of community-based conservation programmes. Increased attention must be given to acknowledg­ing this dynamic and understanding the real role played by state agents in in­ternationally funded conservation initiatives. At the same time, it is important to examine the effects that these dynamics have on real community-initiated efforts for conservation. International mandates to collaborate with local ac­tors, promote 'local participation,' and produce marketable images of 'com­munity-based' programmes have brought increased external presence at the community level and increased pressures at this level. In Zanzibar, these new pressures and influences worked to undermine some of the existing societal structures that might have had the potential to provide long-term local support for conservation goals.[39]


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