Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team (LEAT) was founded in 1994. It is a premier non- governmental and non- profit making environmental management and protection organization in Tanzania.
LEAT carries out environmental and natural resources legal and policy research, advocacy, and selected public interest litigation. Its membership is drawn from public interest spirited individuals from all disciplines of the environment and natural resources management.
LEAT carries out environmental and natural resources legal and policy research, advocacy, and selected public interest litigation. Its membership is drawn from public interest spirited individuals from all disciplines of the environment and natural resources management. Over the years, LEAT has transformed itself to become a community-centered environmental and natural resources management organization that strives for the protection of the environment.
With over 26 years of experience, LEAT has distinguished itself as a leading public interest environmental law organization in Tanzania, with a keen interest in the areas of extractive industries, land, forestry, wildlife, and the environment.
Africa with a sustainable and well-managed environment and natural resources for the benefit of current and future generations.
To contribute towards good governance and sustainable management of the environment and natural resources through public interest litigation, advocacy, strategic research, capacity building, and networking.
Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team (LEAT) is a non-governmental and non–profit-making environmental law organization formed in April 1994.
The motive behind the formation of LEAT was the realization by lawyers that law is an essential tool in the protection of the environment and for sound management of natural resources. As of record, LEAT is the first public interest environmental law organization in Tanzania. It carries out legal policy research, advocacy, and selected public interest litigation.
Its membership largely includes lawyers concerned with environmental management and democratic governance in Tanzania.
LEAT’s co-founder, Dr. Rugemeleza A.K. Nshala, as a young graduate of the University of Dar es Salaam, together with his colleagues the late Vincent Shauri and Michael Ngalo, was inspired when they met with environmental attorneys from the World Resources Institute(WRI) and Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW) from the United States of America on the need to establish a public interest environmental and natural resources law organization to protect Tanzania’s natural resources and environment.
Back in 1994, Tanzania had no attorneys focused on environmental issues, Dr. Rugemeleza says. No countries in East Africa had a non-governmental organization working to enforce environmental laws. So, Dr. Nshala and the late Vincent Shauri, Michael Ngalo, John Daniel, and Prof. Hamudi Majamba of the University of Dar es Salaam to mention but a few formed Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team (LEAT). They had no money but they had time, energy, and concern.
Dr. Rugemeleza had learned about Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW) from a Peace Corps Volunteer with Oregon connection. ELAW Staff Attorney Jennifer Gleason visited Tanzania in 1994 and invited Dr. Rugemeleza to attend the ELAW Annual International Meeting and University of Oregon Public Interest Environmental Law Conference in Eugene. During a PIELC session run by ELAW co-founder John Bonine, a University of Oregon law professor whose passion for the environment has driven decades of work, Dr. Nshala was surprised to hear himself introduced. John spoke of Tanzania’s unique environmental challenges increased mining, ongoing pollution of its waterways, poaching, loss of habitat, extreme poverty. And then he passed the hat.
Rugemeleza went home with $1,600 in startup money.
“We also got funding from the Ford Foundation and we took it from there. Our formation inspired the formation of similar organizations in Uganda, Zimbabwe, Liberia, and Kenya,” he says. “The seed that was planted in Tanzania germinated in so many other places.”
LEAT has scored lasting victories, but perhaps its greatest contribution is its work on the nation’s first environmental protection laws, passed by its parliament in 2004. Among its key provisions:
Every person living in Tanzania shall have a right to clean, safe, and healthy environment.
LEAT operates and continues to uphold the following core values.