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George Washington University

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Program Name

Tanzania: Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology


My study focused on the perceptions of “environmentalism” in Sagara, Tanzania and attempted to compare Sagaran concepts to those of a more Western model. My study also identified the “actors” that taught Sagarans about the environment. After finding that Sagarans held a strong resource conservation focus in their responses, I then focused on the details of their resource use to see whether what they have been taught about conservation has been actualized in their daily life. I predicted to find that Sagarans have a much more generalized and resource conservation focused definition of “environmentalism” and that their patterns of resource use would not necessarily fit into what they had been taught about conservation. I conducted the study in Sagara, a small village in the West Usambara Mountains from April 7th – 25th, 2014. My sample frame was limited to adult residents of Sagara Village and members of organizations that have interacted with Sagara Village over the past 25 years. My sample population was “mothers” and three key-informant interviews with Sagara’s village chairman, a representative from Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG), and a primary school teacher. I gathered my data through two sets of semi-structured interviews, three focal groups, and three key informant interviews. Each set of semi-structured interviews had 50 respondents (n1 = 50) (n2 = 50) while each of the three focal groups had 5 respondents for a total of 15 respondents (n3 = 15). I found that my predictions were accurate in that there was a definitive focus on resource conservation in the respondents’ perception of “environmentalism”. I also found that formal teachers of the environment, such as the government, school, and TFCG more successfully transferred knowledge about the environment than families, an informal educator. However, I found that the government and the local school were both heavily influenced by TFCG teachings themselves, and therefore all taught similar aspects of “environmentalism” such as wood and water conservation. This was in contrast to family teachings which focused more around cultivation and agriculture. Lastly, it was shown that even though many respondents were aware of the teachings of TFCG, the government, and school (proving successful knowledge transfer), the actualization of these teachings proved to be lacking. The resource use habits of many Sagarans proved to, oftentimes, contradict their own definitions of “environmentalism”, taught to them by the actors previously mentioned. Overall, I found that perceptions of “environmentalism” in Sagara village greatly differ from those in the Western world, and that although TFCG has been successful in teaching Sagarans about the topic, residents of Sagara village have not necessarily put into action what they have learned.


Environmental Education | Natural Resources and Conservation


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