Project empowers women on  land rights issues in Morogoro

18Jun 2019
Mashaka Mgeta
The Guardian
Project empowers women on  land rights issues in Morogoro

IMPLEMENTATION of the Land Tenure Support Program (LTSP) in three districts based in Morogoro region has helped to highlight the right of women to own land, which previously was not considered by the communities. 

Tanzania Land Alliance programme manager Jamal Juma addresses land tenure stakeholders in Ulanga District, Morogoro Region, late last week. Photo: Correspondent Mashaka Mgeta

The LTSP that implemented under the Ministry of Land, Housing and Human Settlements Development  which started in 2016 and expected to end this year. Was aimed to conduct land survey and help people to access Customary Certificates of Rights of Occupancy (CCROs) in the respective districts.

In implementing the project, the government conducted land surveys and awarded customary certificates of rights of occupancy (CCROs) to the villagers and community groups.

Reports availed from the Ulanga, Mahenge and Kilombero district councils indicated that, before the implementation of LTSP, many women didn’t own land as individuals but in the name of their husbands.  A small women group in Nkongo village is an exception.  

It has also come to light that at least one family stood out in promoting the rights of women to own land as they shared equally between men and women, land they had inherited from their forefathers. 

The spokesman for the family, Peter Mtetehenga, explained that because of recognizing the importance of women's rights, he led their family to achieve that point. 

“There are five of us in the family; two men and three women and each of us has got one hectare from the five that we have inherited,” he said.

CCROs enhance peace and prosperity

Residents of the Majiji village in Ulanga district have admitted that LTSP has gone a long way towards resolving conflicts and now people live in peace. Farmers and pastoralists alike have conducted their activities without interference and, as such, they are working to improve the economy at family level. The acquisition of CCROs means that villagers can now use their land for income generation activities.

“Before the land assessment and implementation of the project, fighting broke out between the villagers especially during preparation of farms. They used knives and hoes to kill or injure others. There was no peace and people could not work on their farms,” explains Majiji Village Executive Officer, Gothald Mitti.

“But after the completion of LTSP, we are enjoying peace of mind and we can concentrate on our agricultural activities,” he added. 

Fear of land fee Malinyi District Livestock Officer, Frank Johnson revealed that there were some villagers who are reluctant to collect their CCROs for fear that they would be required to pay a high fee for their land.

“When they hear the government announcing that people should pay their land fee, many villagers think that the document (CCRO) would be used to recalculate the fee and thus be required to pay more than what they are supposed to,” he disclosed.

Pastoralists happy with LTSP

The Secretary of the Pastoral Group in Nakafulu village in Ulanga district, Singu Manjale, reveals that land survey and subsequent acquisition of CCROs has helped to resolve conflict between them (pastoralists) and farmers.

The herders in the village said to have 35 households with a total of 1,225 cattle; excluding livestock like goats and sheep have been allocated an area of 70.5 hectares which is only about six percent of actual need for cattle grazing.

According to records available in the village government office, the area was allocated to pastoralists when there were only seven pastoralist families.  In the long run they invited others from outside the respective village and this led to an increased number of livestock.

“Also we have another problem; the area we have been allocated lacks necessary infrastructure like dips and ponds where animals can drink water. I think land use plans should address these issues,” explains Manjale.

Another problem facing the pastoralists is that farmers cultivate their farms close to the area allocated to pastoralists, but within the boundaries set in the land use plans. However livestock is attracted to the farms and thus destroy crops.

“When crops are grown near our area, it’s easy for our livestock to get into farms and destroy crops because cattle don’t recognize boundaries in their movement especially when they lack supervision,” he says and suggests that farmers should be allocated land far away from the area allocated for pastoralists.

Refusal of pastoralists Things are not rosy for pastoralists in some parts of the districts. The Land Surveyor at Malinyi District, Steven Zayumba, for example, explained that there are six villages that have not yet completed setting up land use management plans, while four others namely Minazi, Ziwa Kuu, Ipera and Njiwa have refused to allocate land for pastoralists because they don’t want to live with them.

According to the census conducted through parching of livestock from 2016 to 2018, the district has 130,048 cattle while the area allocated for livestock covers 13,500 hectares. Standards require that one hectare of land be allocated for cattle per year. The size of the land set for livestock in Malinyi District is enough for only 10 percent of the actual needs.

On his part, Livestock Officer for Malinyi District, Frank Johnson, suggests that the challenges facing pastoralists in the country can be solved by recognizing some of them as investors and offering places on national ranches.

“We have vast ranches that are underutilize;  it would be good for pastoralists who meet the criteria to be given the status of investors and offered part of our ranches,” he says.

Need for literacy in land lawsIn the course of implementing LTSP, it came to light that many villagers had little knowledge of existing land laws. The situation made them lose their land to conman because they made wrong decisions or did not follow the right procedures as required by law. 

Yet it is not just land laws that community members need to know. “Villagers also need to get basic knowledge on other laws related to land. They need to know something about laws related to forests and water, among others,” says Jamal Juma, Program Manager from Tanzania Land Alliance (TALA).

He was responding to a question posed by Magdalema Moyo, a resident of Idunda village in Ulanga District, who wanted to know why the village government prohibited her from using two trees that had fallen down on her small farm.

"According to the laws…even if you have planted a tree, cutting it without informing the chairman of your village is a criminal offense…and if authorities find you in the forest area without their consent, you will be punished and fined not more than 50,000 shillings," he explained..

Despite the challenges as highlighted by different stakeholder, the Program Manager of TALA, Jamal says a general analysis shows the success in an implementation of LTSP. He advised all parties that implement LTSP to find ways to help communities to overcome the identified challenges by, among other things, reaching more potential beneficiaries.

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