The government has been urged to survey all village land in the country and provide owners of land with a certificate of occupancy and a titled deed to minimise land disputes between farmers and investors.
Presenting a paper entitled “The real situation of land grab among small-scale farmers in Tanzania” during a one-day national workshop in Morogoro on Tuesday, Haki Ardhi executive director Yefred Myenzi said a village survey was one of the viable solutions to land disputes.
The workshop, which was organised by a national network of farmers’ groups (Mviwata), attracted over 100 participants mainly women from areas, which had a high percentage of land disputes.
He said ongoing land disputes between the farmers and investors were caused by lack of surveyed village land and title deeds.
Tanzania has done very little in surveying villages, as a result villagers or government officials do not understand their land limits when it comes to land acquisition. Statistics show that only one per cent of village land is surveyed.
He said the cost of surveying village land was not very high and the government had enough resources to do the job.
According to him, Tanzania has 12,000 villages and the cost of surveying each village stands at between 7m/- and 15m/-.
“This means that we need not more than 200bn/- for the whole job to be done and reduce all challenges facing village land,” he said.
Myenzi also urged the government to learn from the 1967 Arusha Declaration to reduce land disputes.
He said the Arusha Declaration was a blueprint for a new turn in national development, where all the major means of production had to be owned and managed by the public to bring about equal access to and distribution and ownership of national resources and services.
Despite good intentions, it has always been on record that the implementation of programmes and projects in the post Arusha Declaration era was associated with gross violations of land and human rights especially against rural based small producers. Statistics show that 50 million hectares worldwide have been allocated dubiously to investors where as 70 per cent of it is found in Africa.
Mviwata member Paul Makolo from Shinyanga Region said there was a need to educate more village government leaders about the Land Act No. 4 of 1999 for general land and the Village Land Act No. 5 of 1999 for village land.
He said most people did not understand the land legislation and entered into agreements with investors without fully knowing what it all meant.
Makolo, who is a former Member of Parliament for Kishapu Constituency, said lack of such knowledge had aggravated the problem.
“Most of them sign agreements without understanding their impacts on the community. Hence, there is a need for a massive campaign,” he elaborated. Fatuma Kimolo from Manyara Region blamed government leaders for failing to address land disputes in various areas.
She noted that there were longstanding land disputes (for over 20 years) between villages surrounding Tarangire National Park.
“More than 2,000 farmers were evicted from their land due to the expansion of the park without compensation and are not allowed to do any activity,” she said.
She noted that there ware no effort taken by the village leaders to address the situation, which threatened the breach of the peace.
According to workshop coordinator Thomas Laiser, the workshop, sponsored by Tanzania Land Alliance and Irish Aid, was organised to discuss the fate of farmers including the ongoing killings and marking the World Small-Scale Farmers Day.
“We have recently witnessed farmers losing their land and the use of excessive force against them, which is not good for the development and prosperity of this nation,” he said.
He said evicting farmers to pave the way for local and foreign investors and expansion of reserved land was detrimental to people.
He also said the eviction of herdsmen in Ihefu, Loliondo, Ulanga, Kiteto and other areas was a clear example that farmers’ rights had been violated.