Equitable Payments for Watershed Services (EPWS) in the Uluguru Mountains, Tanzania

Submitted by Michael Rastall | published 12th Nov 2012 | last updated 23rd Nov 2012

Bean being grown on fanya juu terraces in Lanzi

Project Context

The project site is located in the Uluguru Mountains (UM).These mountains have Watershed and Forest Reserves that are globally recognised for their biological diversity and have national importance due to the provision of water that it gives to millions of Tanzanians. The UM are part of the Eastern Arc Mountain Forests Eco-region and located in Morogoro Region, about 200 km west of Dar es Salaam. They are key elements of the Eastern Arc Range, whose natural forests are recognized as part of the 25 richest and most threatened reservoirs of plant and animal life on Earth.

The EPWS programme is implemented in 5 villages in the Kibungo subcatchment within Kibungo Juu Ward, which is located 85km South-East of Morogoro town.

Around 150,000 people spread across 50 villages live in the UM area, largely on the edge of the forested areas. The people living in these rural areas  have been plagued by the economic realities of development where poor and inadequate human and financial resources have led to intensive agriculture, land fragmentation, water pollution and the degradation of forest reserves.

Around 30% of the population live on less than 1 USD per day which they supplement with subsistence farming of very small agriculture plots that are managed with slash and burn practices. One of the problems with this practice is that land fragmentation is extremely high and aggravates food security. For example, among the roughly 2,250 ha of land available in Kibungo Juu ward, 86% of the plots owned by individual farmers do not exceed 2 ha, thereby, creating problems of land scarcity and food shortage. Productivity of such small agriculture plots is very low due to low soil fertility (e.g. on average, about 200 kg of maize per acre) and financial constraints in implementing practices to counteract the continuous loss of soil and nutrients by erosion and runoff.

In 2007, there was an overall decrease of water quality with an average increase of 5 NTUs (Nephelometric Turbidity Units) per year, indicating a dramatic increase in sediment loading into the river. This can be attributed to unsustainable land use which also results in a significant decrease in land/vegetation cover. It is clear that land-use change and reduced storage capacity cause greater surface run-off in the catchment and an associated increase in topsoil erosion leading to increased siltation.

Piloting a Payment for Environmental Services (PES) scheme in the Ulugurus

In the subcatchment of the Mfizigo River, a joint CARE-WWF Programme (2006-2011) promoted a PES scheme between the downstream buyers (the industrial water supply and sewerage corporation –DAWASCO- and Coca Cola Kwanza Ltd) and the upstream sellers from Lukenge, Kibungo, Lanzi, Dimilo and Nyingwa villages. Farmers received payment for the adoption of agricultural practices aimed at controlling runoff and soil erosion, while improving their crop production. A combined approach is being implemented that includes structural (bench terraces and fanya juu terraces), vegetative (reforestation, agroforestry and grass strips) and agronomic measures (intercropping crops with fruit trees, mulching and fertilising with animal manure) to limit runoff, combat soil erosion and increase soil moisture and productivity.

Considering PES in the context of adaptation to climate change is important for many reasons. There are several stressors that have contributed to the degradation of ecosystems and the services they provide. PES has the potential to reduce the vulnerability of the ecosystem and the actors dependent on it, but there are also potential trade offs to consider (van de Sand, 2012). This article summarizes the EPWS experience by piloting a PES scheme in a water catchment area in the Uluguru Mountains in Tanzania, and highlights key challenges that need to be overcome and lessons learned through the project that one need to consider when implementing a PES scheme in the context of adaptation to climate change.

Equitable Payments for Watershed Services (EPWS) is part of a broader concept of Payments for Environmental/Ecosystem Services (PES) with the underlying principle of which the beneficiaries (which are recognized as buyers) of environmental/ecosystem services should compensate or reward those who provide or play a role to guarantee continuous flow of such services (who are recognized as sellers of the services). The EPWS programme in Tanzania intends to ensure a sustainable flow of watershed services to beneficiaries into the future via a mechanism that promotes articulation of conservation practices in catchment areas, and in turn alleviate poverty to land managers. Indeed, the Equitable Payments for Watershed Services (EPWS) project is being implemented for in the interests of:

• Establishing long term Financial Investment (FI) in modifying land use to conserve and improve watersheds for reliable flow and quality of water.

• Establishing payments or a financial incentive mechanism that recognizes the needs and priorities of the marginalized and poor people to improve their quality of life, and in turn, contribute to poverty reduction.

The payment mechanism is set at the compensation variation of land use change practices in terms of labor and opportunity costs. DAWASCO has already started paying sellers in the Ulugurus. Payments are made to participating farmers as rewards for undertaking conservation activities. The calculations are made based on the opportunity cost of the amount of land that one intervenes based on the crop grown and the labor costs (determined through local market prices for agriculture activities). Price differences were established between different conservation techniques applied. See table below:

Stakeholders/partners and roles in the EPWS project

1. The Wami Ruvu Basin Water Office provided technical support on hydrological monitoring

2. The Uluguru Nature Reserve (UNR) Office Conducted trainings on tree planting, agroforestry and reforestation techniques, nursery establishment and management.

3. The Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) through Uluguru Mountains Agricultural Development Project (UMADEP) Provided technical support (training and supervision) on excavation of “fanya juu” and bench terraces and indoor livestock keeping

4. Land use planning and management Morogoro Office (MoAFC) who provided technical support on application of fanya juu and bench terraces and collaborated with the programme to display its progress during the Nane-Nane Exhibition (a Farmer's day event held on 8th August every year).

5. Morogoro District Council, especially Local Government Authorities such as Kibungo Juu Ward, as well as Village Councils of Kibungo, Lanzi, Dimilo, Nyingwa and Lukenge for awareness creation, mobilisation/sensitizations & supervising implementation of programme interventions.

6. DAWASCO and Coca Cola Kwanza Ltd (buyers) who were contacted through village governments for rewarding/compensating farmers according to the agreed and signed Memorandum of Understanding.

Main field methodological approaches

The project implements selected practices to maximize off- farm benefit in terms of reduced watercourse turbidity based on the slope of area including terraces (fanya juu and bench terraces), afforestation and reforestation, contour farming, grass strip and riparian zone restoration, sugar cane strips or tree planting in riparian areas. Other practices include a combination of conservation measures such as agroforestry and forest restoration, agronomic practices which involve the use of cover crops (e.g. beans and groundnuts) to increase soil nitrogen (N) content and the practice of residue management to improve overall soil fertility together with the promotion of indoor livestock keeping (i.e. mainly improved dairy goats) for availability of animal manure for crop production in excavated structures and linking farmers with profitable markets.

The main methods or strategies being used to accomplish the above interventions include:

• Facilitation of training sessions to improve farmers' skills on all interventions through various ways including study tours and/or exchange visits which enabled farmers to realise the benefits accrued from conservation activities.

• Formation of farmers groups to enable implementation of all conservation measures and training to farmers to work together by supporting each other.

• Use of demonstration plots to enhance practical skills on all selected conservation measures such as tree planting, agroforestry and reforestation, excavation of terrace and proper agronomic practices for soil erosion control and crop production.

• Mobilising para-professionals at community level to establish extension services local capacity.

• Support farmers with equipment, materials and inputs for implementing SWC practices.

• Collaboration with key stakeholders/partners to enable knowledge and experience-sharing as well as leveraging expertise and/or resources in achieving significant results.

Key Outcomes and Challenges in the implementation of a PES scheme in the Ulugurus

• High investments costs in implementing Soil and Water Conservation practices e.g. farm inputs, working tools and high labour demands.

• EPWS programme failed to involve more than a quarter of the poorest of the poor in project implementation due to the fact that poor people are landless, are usually older and with less labour power to implement recommended conservation techniques.

• Low participation of youth: Most of the youth look for activities that give them immediate and/or quick returns. The Well-Being Analysis report conducted in 2011 revealed that young people were engaging in carrying bananas in tengas to local markets for their survival.

• The programme failed to ensure consistence of farmers’ payment/rewards for the services they have been offering as per the signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This was caused by absence of laws that binded beneficiaries/buyers to be accountable in compensating the service providers. Also, the program was unsuccessful in influencing more buyers to join in EPWS mechanism due to inadequate institutional framework which influenced private sector to further engaging in conservation initiatives.

• The Payment for Environmental Services (PES) concept, within the project context, needs some more time for people to understand and be ready to be applied. It also has limited number of experts who can help create awareness and understanding to many people at all levels including policy and decision makers.

• Increased land cover in the project area by planting over 300,000 timber tree species of Grevillea robusta, Khaya anthotheca, Afzelia quanzensis, Markhamia lutea and fruit trees as agroforestry and reforestation. Total land planted with trees in form of agroforestry and reforestation is about 370.11 ha for 873 farmers of which 477 were male and 396 were female. The tree survival rate is estimated at 80%.

• Reduction of bush fire incidences by 85% as farmers currently use mulch (grasses or crop residues). Furthermore, slash and burn has been reduced because many areas have been occupied by planted trees.

• Controlling run-off and soil erosion through excavation of terraces, grass strip and contour farming. About 63 ha has already been converted into terraces by 327 farmers of which 218 were males and 109 were females. These techniques have greatly contributed to control soil erosion on the slopes.

• Improving soil fertility and soil moisture content through the use of appropriate agronomic practices (see Sustainable Land Management in Practice. Guidelines and Best Practices for Sub-Saharan Africa. Field Application in English or in French) which subsequently increased crop production per unit area of excavated structures (i.e. terraces).

• Through continuous hydrological monitoring of the river, it has been noted that there is a significant decrease in sediment load in the river, possibly as a result of the implementation of sustainable land use change interventions.

• It has been possible to boost farm productivity to more than three times through implementation of recommended techniques (see table below). There has been increasing crop production per unit of excavated structures (fanya juu and bench terraces) due to improved biological and chemical components of the soils. The increase in productivity has created good motivation for farmers  to apply for Soil and Water Conservation (SWC) measures rather than the payment per se (see photograph below).

Excavation of terraces

Table 2: Changes in Crop Production


‹ 400kg/acre >1600kg /acre 


‹120kg/acre ≥950kg/acre 


Nil ≥9600 pcs/acre 


Nil ≥9000kg/acre 


Nil ≥4000kg/acre 

• Most of the households in Kibungo Juu area have improved the food security situation due to an increase crop production after adopting improved agronomic practices promoted by EPWS. They are now able to have 3 meals per day which compared with the figure of 1.5 when the project began in 2008.

• Since  2009, farmers utilising sustainable land management practices have amassed cummulatively around 13,000 USD. These funds have been raised from a combination of crop marketing (of cabbage, onion and tomato) and a small amount (around 1,700 USD) from DAWASCO as payment for environmental services. The resulting increase in individual household income has improved access to social services like education, health and housing.

• The involvement of women in project initiatives ensured changes in the community, something that was not observed in the past due to their cultural foundations and traditions. This is because the project strengthens their capacities including building their confidence in taking leadership responsibilities. Typical examples that can be cited include the election of two women as village chairpersons from 2009 to 2014 and three leading farmers’ associations at the community level.

• Working for the poor: Project experience revealed that working with this group is very challenging and it needs extra strategies to enable the poor participate and benefit from such initiative. This is because most of the poor people have land ≤ 0.5 ha or are landless, older than 65 years, with less labour power to implement recommended conservation techniques which are labour demanding.

EPWS Experience presented by Dosteus Lopa -Rio +20, Brasil from weADAPT