Tuungane Project

Tuungane — Let’s Unite!

See how we're uniting human health with healthy natural systems in Tanzania.


Tuungane (Swahili version)

See how we're uniting human health with healthy natural systems in Tanzania.


The Greater Mahale Ecosystem is home to more than 90% of Tanzania’s 2,800 endangered chimpanzees.

Lake Tanganyika and the Greater Mahale Ecosystem

As the sun rises over Mount Nkungwe, highest peak in the Mahale Mountains, far below fishermen float quietly across Lake Tanganyika as they return from a night of fishing. The surrounding forest comes alive with the calls of birds and chimpanzees.

The world’s longest lake, Tanganyika holds 17 percent of our planet’s fresh water. An amazing ecological system in its own right, this “inland ocean” boasts more than 300 fish species.

Rising eastward from the shoreline, the Greater Mahale Ecosystem encompasses 4.8 million acres of mostly forested landscape. This ecosystem is home to approximately 93 percent of Tanzania’s 2,800 endangered chimpanzees, only some of which live within Mahale Mountains National Park.

This area is also the traditional homeland of the Watongwe and Waholoholo tribes. Local communities of small-scale farmers and fishers still live close to the land, and their lives and livelihoods are dependent upon the area’s rich natural resources.

Tuungane Project: Uniting People and Nature

The health of this diverse natural environment and the well-being of its people are threatened by the same forces: extreme poverty compounded by a rapidly growing human population.

These remote villages lack access to health services, education and modern contraception. With populations spiraling upward, settlements and farms are encroaching into wild lands. As more forest is cleared haphazardly for agriculture, sediment clogs coastal zones and fisheries decline.

Tuungane (pronounced TOO-un-gah-nee, Kiswahili for “Let’s Unite”) is our community-focused collaboration to reduce threats and improve the resilience of this system. Our project is expressly designed to bring together reproductive-health and conservation interventions for integrated solutions to address the pressures on people and nature.

The Conservancy is partnering with Pathfinder International, Frankfurt Zoological Society, Jane Goodall Institute, Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), Government of Tanzania and others to unite conservation with initiatives to strengthen local governance, improve access to social services and create sustainable livelihoods.

Tuungane Project Goals
  • Build the capacity of village governments: Design training programs that meet specific community needs; enhance participation and transparency; educate and engage local leaders in population, health, and environment strategies.
  • Improve local governance: Enable long-term support for population, health and environment strategies.
  • Strengthen forest management: create, gain local and national government endorsement, and implement a comprehensive land and water protection plan.
  • Enhance Lake Tanganyika fisheries management: catalyze co-operative fisheries management at the village level.
  • Improve access to health-care information and services: Strengthen local government capacity and train community health workers.
  • Diversify and improve livelihoods: focus on food security and access to markets.

The time to act is now — while we still have the chance to protect Tanzania’s amazing natural systems and the critical resources they provide to people. Will you help us advance this critical work?


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