Selous GR (Paul Shaffner - 10/2006)
You can mine high value natural resources in a game reserve in Tanzania, but you can't do so in a world heritage site. Ezekiel Maigi, the Tanzanian Minister of Natural Resources, is therefore lobbying to de-gazette part of the Selous Game Reserve so that uranium can legally be mined. He is seeking approval for the boundary change from the UN, but told the BBC "the uranium project will go ahead." Only 0.68% of the reserve is slated for de-gazetting, but in such a huge reserve, this still amounts to over 300 km2.
The southwest corner of the Selous is one of the most rural and inaccessible areas of Tanzania, which makes accountability more of a challenge. Have local communities had a say in this decision? Who will hold Mantra Resources and the Tanzanian Minister of Natural Resources accountable for their promises to remit five million USD a year toward the management of the Selous (which is still only 2.5% of the expected annual profit of the mine). Even if this money does materialize, I wonder: How much money will actually end up in the southwest where the mining is occurring, since most tourists visit the more accessible north? How much will be invested in projects that directly benefit tourism (like roads) versus projects that directly benefit local communities (like addressing human-wildlife conflicts)?
I guess most of my questions center on rural empowerment, who has a say in decisions, and accountability for promises/environmental responsibility. I'd love to make a visit to the area if I make it out to Tanzania to do fieldwork next summer.