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Tundaua has several site-specific features that separate it from other communities on Pemba. Between 1952-1964 British officers reported oil seeps in the area, which have led to several rumors concerning the community’s hidden wealth – rumors that still persist today. A cobbled roadway can be seen in Tundaua, built in the days of colonial rule, demonstrating infrastructure developments related to the supposed oil deposit. As a result, politics play a heavy role in Tundaua, as community members align themselves with political parties in an effort to keep future developments within the community’s interest.
Pemba holds a troubled political history and has received worldwide attention as a result of their most recent multi-party elections (1995, 2000, 2005). The majority of Pembans are active CUF supporters, in opposition to the established CCM party, which has maintained power in Tanzania since independence. Reports of violence, death and harassment surrounding the election periods, plus acquisitions of voter intimidation and dubious vote counting processes have surrounded the Pemban democratic process with controversy and have left many demanding a fairer electoral process. Tundaua demonstrate this reality on a microcosm, with party alliances dividing community members and informing their actions. As a result the community members participating in the tree planting initiative have often let their unwillingness to participate with opposite party members effect the outcomes of their efforts.
New to the project in 2008, several of the trees planted failed to survive due to a lack of watering, maintenance and care. Mbarouk Mussa Omar, Community Forests Pemba’s Executive Director has warned the community that if this planting season proves no better, support for tree planting in Tundaua will be suspended until a more cooperative attitude is developed among community members. Motivated by the challenge, this community planted over 15,000 trees in their nursery and it appears that their unwillingness to act as a community has been put aside.