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Integrated Approaches for Climate Change Adaptation in the East Usambara Mountains: The eco-village approach

This solution is one of 18 climate change adaptation solutions shared in the booklet Mountains ADAPT: Solutions from East Africa, which showcases adaptation solutions proven to be successful in response to specific issues caused or accelerated by climate change. These solutions were selected for their inclusive approaches, their potential to be transferred and upscaled, as well as their extended benefits for downstream communities across the East Africa Community. This solution is described in the booklet on page 22: "Go eco-village".
Farmer working in the field © Global Climate Change Alliance Plus/European Union


The Integrated Approaches for Climate Change Adaptation in Usambara Mountains

Funded by the European Union under the Global Climate Change Alliance, this project was implemented in theEast Usambara Mountains, Tanzania, with the main goal of improving the livelihoods and resilience of communities. The East Usambara Mountains in north-eastern Tanzania is a region famous for its forests rich in biodiversity. The precipitation patterns in Usambara are changing, driven both by local forest degradation and global climate change, which is leading to increased frequency and intensity of both droughts and floods.

The area faces socioeconomic and managerial challenges that limit the capacity to adopt climate change measures in the East Usambara Mountains. These include lack of financial resources, farmers not receiving sufficient relevant information like weather forecasts, ineffective communication between government entities, and climate change not being prioritized in local government development strategies.

Between 2015 and 2019, the European Union funded the Integrated Approaches for Climate Change Adaptation in the East Usambara Mountains project, under the Global Climate Change Alliance. The project adopted the eco-village approach to increase and diversify incomes, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change.The eco-village approach builds on a holistic idea of sustainable development, where a mix of interventions, such as new farming practices and building local governmental adaptation capacity, are implemented to achieve the social, environmental and economic dimensions of sustainability at the community level.

The project is supporting adaptation to climate change by linking improved water supply and water resource management with sustainable agricultural production, agroforestry, dairy cattle husbandry, tree planting, and microfinance. For example, farmers were taught to plant black pepper to adapt to warming temperatures. While this spice has not been feasible to grow in the cooler mountain environments until recently, it can now be farmed as a valuable cash crop due to the changing climate.


Implementation sites:
  • Single country
  • Single location
Mountain region:
  • East Usambara Mountains

Solution scale:
Ecosystem type(s):
Solution type(s):
Climate impact(s) addressed:
Impact time-scales:
Implementation timeline:
  • 2015 - 2019
Sendai targets:

Solution details

Main beneficiaries & outcomes

The solutions were implemented in eight communities located near high biodiversity forests in the East Usambara Mountains. The many achievements of the project include, but are not limited to :

  • 27 farmer groups equipped with Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) techniques,
  • 60 farmers (20 from each community) trained on better dairy cattle keeping, 17 farmers have been provided with 17 heifers, 40 farmers (5 farmers in each village) have been trained in the production of better cattle pastures,
  • Establishment of participatory forest management in five villages,
  • Establishment of water management committees to manage the use of water from the river and springs,
  • 71% of the people in the eight eco-villages have gained access to improved, reliable, low-cost and environmentally sustainable water supply services,
  • Three village Land Use Plans have been approved (For Mgambo, Kwemsoso and Kazita Villages),
  • 16 Village Loan And Serving Associations (24 members each) have been formed and are actively operating,
  • Spice nursery groups have produced 135,000 seedlings, and
  • 12 school teachers trained on implementation SWASH guidelines and supporting SWASH groups at schools.

Planning and implementation

The Integrated Approaches for Climate Change Adaptation in the East Usambara Mountains project ran from 2015–2019, and was funded by the European Union under the Global Climate Change Alliance. The lead implementing partner was ONGAWA Engineering for Human Development and the other partners were Tanzania Forest Conservation Group and Muheza District Council. In addition to the project partners, the project has counted on the help of the University of Leeds, United Kingdom.

Climate change-related activities have been implemented in order to reduce the vulnerability of villagers as follows:

  • Improved access to basic services (water, sanitation and energy) through low-cost and climate change-adapted solutions,
  • Put in place organizations and mechanisms to manage natural resources in a sustainable and integrated way,
  • Help small-scale farmers to shift from unsustainable agricultural production models to climate-smart agricultural practices,
  • Support communities to incorporate new market-driven enterprises and business initiatives based on the management plan of forest resources,
  • Increase capacity of schools to provide skills to students to understand and increase their resilience to climate change,
  • Increase capacity at District, Ward and Village level to cope with the negative effects of climate change by incorporating adaptation measures in planning tools and mechanisms and, 
  • Develop improved governance at village level including a guarantee by all relevant actors of accountability towards all villages and the incorporation of a gender approach.


This project was funded by the European Union under the Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) with a grant of €1,364,449. The support was comprised of project funding, as well as dedicated technical assistance (TA) to strengthen Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) and Visibility & Communication (V&C) activities.


The most innovative aspects of this project were the use of the eco-village approach. The eco-village concept aims to regenerate social and natural environments in villages around the world. While there is no one way of being an eco-village, there are three core practices at the heart of the eco-village approach: 

  • Being rooted in local participatory processes,
  • Integrating social, cultural, economic and ecological dimensions in a whole system approach to sustainability
  • Actively restoring and regenerating social and natural environments

Another innovative dimension of this project was the building of institutional capability to assess, plan and implement climate change strategies in the eight villages, and ensure project sustainability.

Long term project sustainability and maintenance

The project ended in March 2019 but the eco-village approach lives on with the ongoing commitment from local authorities to mainstream climate change adaptation into their budgets and plans. Communities and partners have plans for the following:

  • Supporting the construction of 40 latrines for the elderly and poor households,
  • Construction of 7 washing slabs so as to lessen human activities like washing clothes at water sources,
  • 2 more Village Land Use Plans to be approved by Muheza District Council, and
  • Enhancement of gender and human-rights based approaches through water and sanitation services planned.

Highlights of the GCCA Tanzania Programme Phase II 2015-2019


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