Villagers from Itamba, Ilongo and Ukwama in Mbarali became the first batch of CCROs which they said gives them confidence and financial security as the certificates can be used as collateral when seeking credit from financial institutions. Director of Tanzania Land Tenure Assistance, Mustafa Issa said the certificates have been issued under a land tenure assistance project being implemented by his company.
Issa said the main objectives of the project are to help Tanzanians get their land surveyed so that they can formally own such property through customary arrangements to solve regular conflicts. “We are doing this exercise in Iringa and Mbeya regions in collaboration with Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development and district councils,” he said.
He explained that under the agreement, his company has been surveying land but also help villages prepare land use plans. “The biggest challenge we have been facing in the second phase of the project is people’s contribution to cover part of the costs of the exercise after the USAID funding was completed,” Issa noted.
The TLAT official further noted that in collaboration with district councils, the public has been convinced somewhat to contribute towards meeting costs of the project following the donor departure.
“Today we have issued customary land tenure certificates to more than 4,000 people who managed to pay the fee but our target was 6,000,” Issa added while stressing that the exercise is ongoing hence requested people to raise cash and pay for the certificates.
In all, more than 100,000 villagers in Iringa and Mbeya regions have been issued with the CCROs mostly from more than 65 villages. As for Mbarali District Council which has 102 villages, only 11 have been surveyed and three have completely been awarded the CCROs. Currently, our goal is to ensure all villages in Iringa and Mbarali get land tenure certificates.
One of the beneficiaries of the project, Athumani Hamis from Ukwama village in Mbarali district, commended the government for coming up with the exercise because after getting his land surveyed and the certificate, he can comfortably conduct farming activities.
Hamis also said with the certificate, he can now access agro-inputs loan to invest on his farm and increase both quality and quantity of commodities. “I thank the government and other stakeholders for providing us with land ownership documents which gives everyone peace of mind,” he said.
He was optimist that when all villagers get their CCROs, all land conflicts will be solved at Ukwama village hence allow people to concentrate on economic production to get rid of poverty.
Hamis’ observation was backed by Itamba village resident, Chezalina Mbinga who said the documents will play a big role in enabling them to fight poverty because they can now access bank loans to invest on their farms. “But this will also help us reduce regular conflicts with neighbours but also investors,” he intoned while commending authorities for the fruitful project.
A widow from Ilongo village in the same district, Ritta Kanjeli said the document has surprised her because she never thought such a development would happen soon. “For us as women, this is emancipation because the government has formally recognised us as legitimate property owners,” Kanjeli said.
Addressing the beneficiaries, Mbarali District Administrative Secretary, Michael Semindu who presided over the exercise on behalf of Mbarali District Commissioner, Reuben Mfune urged the villagers to keep the documents safe as they are formal recognition of their property ownership.
“These documents are very important because they can be used as collateral for you to borrow from financial institutions but make sure that when you borrow, repay on time,” Semindu advised them saying the CCROs should be guarded jealously.