Who We Are

Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team (LEAT) is a non-governmental and not for profit-making environmental management and protection organization in Tanzania.

LEAT specializes in research activities in natural resources management and governance particularly in land, mining, wildlife, water resources and forests. Moreover, it engages in advocating for legal amendments and policy reforms in environmental protection and natural resources management. LEAT further participates in raising awareness to local communities, and government agencies on the importance of adhering to good governance practices in environmental 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.

Through its experience gained over years, LEAT has distinguished itself as a leading public interest environmental law organization, especially in the areas of extractive industries, wildlife, and wider environmental management.


LEAT operates and continues to uphold the following core values.



Team Work


Commitment to Environmental Protection

Diversity and Inclusion

Transparency and Accountability


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.

Dr. Rugemeleza Nshala

Co-founder & Executive Director
Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team -LEAT.