The role played by international NGOs in Tanzania and elsewhere in the world is well-appreciated. Their assistance serves mostly to fill the gap in terms of expertise, financial inputs, and providing a wider audience for important humanitarian, conservation, and developmental issues by linking the local scene with the outside world.13 Some international bodies such as the UN organizations provide leadership in various spheres of interest to the world community. Several international NGOs, AID, and UN agencies in Tanzania work in various areas, including humanitarian assistance, development projects, capacity building, and environmental matters such as biodiversity conservation. Insofar as they work as pressure groups and lobbies, these institutions play a very important role in facilitating the correct behavior of major actors in various spheres of interest. When the government approved the prawn-farming project against the advice of the NEMC, international experts and institutions such as IUCN as well as local people lodged numerous protests and pleas with the government. Most NGOs, both local and foreign alike, opposed the size and especially the manner in which the project was to be implemented. The projected adverse effects included the loss of biodiversity through the cutting down of mangroves, ecological disturbance due to diseases and pollution, social displacement, and loss of livelihoods.
The above-mentioned international institutions are financing many projects for the protection of Tanzania´s natural environment. The Mangrove Forest Management Project, which is financed by NORAD, covers all the mangroves in the country and aims at maintaining ecosystem integrity and enhancing sustainable use. Other international organizations such as the Irish Aid are involved in coastal zone conservation and development specifically for the Tanga region. USAID in collaboration with the Center for Coastal Resources of the University of Rhode Island is working with NEMC in a Coordination Project for Integrated Coastal Management, better known as the Tanzania Coastal Management Partnership. The Rufiji Environment Management Project (REMP), a relatively new initiative sponsored by IUCN, has just begun work in Rufiji. A site-based project with headquarters in the Rufiji district, one of REMP’s objectives is to assess the biodiversity of Rufiji Delta mangrove areas and plan for their conservation. All the above efforts and others, added to local initiatives, create a large collective effort, which may not be achieved otherwise.
Tanzania is also a signatory to the international Convention on Biological Diversity, among other conventions and treaties. This convention gives Tanzania the opportunity to contribute to global initiatives for the conservation of biodiversity and makes it eligible to benefit from technology transfer, financial assistance, scientific and research cooperation, and capacity building.