- Communities close to Tanzania's Lake Natron had publicly opposed to the proposed plans to erect soda ash plant in the area. The plant will threaten the survival of the world's largest population of Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor.
A traditional chief from Pinyinyi, a village in the area, who questioned why they would "accept a project that will later destroy us," described it as "taking a fish and throwing it into the bush."
At a meeting convened by the National Environment Management Council of Tanzania in the capital Dar es Salam, community representives could not swallow their worry about lack of consultation in the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, complaining that the proposed factory would not provide jobs to educated and skilled workers, instead of those living in the communities.
Rather, the communities feared the plant would endanger employment gained from tourism, one of the major sources of income for many locals.
The meeting's outcome would consolidate an aggressive campaign launched by the BirdLife International Partnership against the development over the past six months.
“We strongly believe that the cumulative impacts from the proposed facility have a high risk of causing extreme detriment to the Lesser Flamingo population should the project be allowed to be developed in Lake Natron area,” the CEO of WCST [BirdLife in Tanzania], Lota Melamari, told the public hearing.
The lake's consultative group, which includes the BirdLife Africa Partnership, rejected the project at the open forum, fearing the local community would "lose their sources of livelihoods owing to over-sue of water by the factory and their livestock economy risks being destroyed" without getting anything in return.
The group advised the enhancement of the thriving ecotourism as the best way of utilising the natural resources of Lake Natron.
Many other stakeholders, including the environmental journalists, lawyers and tour operators, asked the government to avoid the plant.
Conservationists briefed the Tanzanian parliamentary committee on the environment on Lake Natron on the development.
“This information will help us as we seek to understand the whole project and its implications and how to advise government on the way forward,” the Chairman of the parliamentary committee said.
“Its our sincere hope that our government will carefully analyse and hear all interested and affected stakeholders views before making a final decision on this issue,” BirdLife International quoted Lota Melamari as saying.
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