Dismas has developed countless Land Use Plans, resolved many conflicts, and ensured continued sustainability of our programmes in some of the most difficult and politicised areas we work. The past 16 years he has worked with the Hadza and Datoga tribes in Yaeda valley and has celebrated many successes with those communities during that time. We sat down with Dismas to ask him a few questions about his work and achievements over the years.
What brings you happiness in your work?
“When we achieve what we set out to do, when we meet the needs and expectations of the communities we work with, that’s when I’m happy. On the flip side, it really disturbs me if we fail, letting down those we work with. It also brings me joy when other people are happy and have what they need to be comfortable- when I see the Hadza are enjoying their livelihoods, I’m happy. When I’m in the field, especially in Yaeda. When I sit in the community and see this community gaining their rights- that brings me a lot of joy.”
What achievement are you most proud of?
“Creating the first group CCRO’s (Certificates of Customary Rights of Occupancy) in Tanzania. We had been using Land Use Plans in Yaeda for a number of years but certain individuals in the community were not respecting these plans. The area that had been set-aside for the Hadza was changed and we realised that the Land Use Plans on their own were not enough. The Hadza needed some sort of legal protection. We sat with the village land use officer and determined that we needed communal ownership, not individual use and that is how the idea of CCRO’s was born. After securing the ownership for the Hadza we moved to secure rights for the nearby pastoralist Datoga. It’s amazing to see how much this idea has grown.”
How has UCRT grown and changed in the last 20 years?
“I remember a time when UCRT staff had to borrow a friend’s car or go to sites by foot. In some ways [traveling by foot] might have helped us in our work. We are most effective when we stay with the communities, learn their challenges and problems and then they begin to trust you.”