Stakeholders want government to ‘stand for land campaign’

24Sep 2022
Gerald Kitabu
The Guardian
Stakeholders want government to ‘stand for land campaign’

LAND experts, academicians and other stakeholders have urged policy and decision makers to look at how women and smallholder producers will benefit first when providing land for the local and foreign investors.

Land experts, academicians and other stakeholders at a recent validation meeting organised by Landesa Tanzania in Morogoro Region recently. Photo: Correspondent Gerald Kitabu

They were speaking at a recent ended validation meeting organised by Landesa Tanzania in Morogoro Region, saying that experience shows that when the investors are given land and sometimes under controversial circumstances, it is the women and smallholder producers who suffer most.

The validation meeting brought together land experts, academicians, land and natural resource specialists, media and other stakeholders with the theme:  “Stand for her land Campaign”.

Land Tenure Specialist Masalu Luhula from Landesa said land is the source for shelter, livelihood, and climate resilience. Land is a key for survival and fundamental for gender justice as such policy and decision makers should ensure women’s equal legal rights to land wherever they are.

The policy and decision makers should carefully analyse and review land tenure in the investment sector to promote women and the agro-activities of smallholder farmers in Tanzania.

“There is a need for the government to put in place friendly systems for investors including patent protection for small producers (farmers and ranchers) who have been major producers of food and raw materials to feed markets and industries.

They also asked the government to strengthen monitoring systems in the investment sector as there have been many foreign investors who are basically not investors but interested in doing other activities for personal interest and end up taking people's land without any development. Investigation conducted in many regions and districts has revealed that many communities have been left without land to carry out their agricultural and pastoral activities.

"The government must look at what kind of investor we need. In my experience most of the areas in different parts of the country taken by investors but today there is nothing continuing. Therefore, before continuing dishing out more land to investors, there is a need to look at the type of investors we need," said Luhula.

“I advice the government to put in place system that will enable the investor to invest without disturbing the people and in the event the investor fails to continue with his investment, review of investment should be conducted to return the land to the ordinary citizens,” he said.

He said many existing conflicts between investors and citizens in various parts of the country are caused by the nature and behaviour of some unfaithful investors who don’t want to put into actions what they promised earlier on.

The policy should make clear that in the investment areas, the government should set priorities for the respective communities including education, health care, water roads, as well as adherence to human rights principles for community members, he added.

He also advised the government to look at the challenge of climate change in the investment sector especially when establishing various industrial and manufacturing construction projects. He said the law should make it clear how the investor would be coming to invest in the country to ensure he uses the right methods to address the effects of climate change and agriculture in particular.

“This is a big challenge. The government should take immediate steps to strengthen investment systems by conducting feasibility studies on local and foreign investors before investing to help citizens avoid losing their land to rescue them from facing abject poverty

Alfonse Zenus from Tanzania natural resource forum (TNRF) the Land use planning Act, 2007 and the revised (2013 and 2020) guidelines require effective participation of communities in their land use planning process. The law also gives planning powers to the village authorities on village land.

District planning team support as technical advisers in the process and decisions are made by the villagers through Village Council and Village Assembly. The law and its guidelines require the land use planning reports be owned by the community and implemented by the village council.  For villagers being not aware of whether a review was done in 2019 and also having no information of the reports leave many questions unanswered if the process was integrative and participatory as a legal requirement. It is also a constitutional right for villagers to decide on their matters which they are either directly or indirectly affected. Land Use planning affects all villagers and their future generations if they do not agree freely and with prior information.

Landesa believes that around the world, people experiencing poverty often share three traits: they live in rural areas, rely on agriculture and forests to survive, and don’t have legal control over the land on which they depend. We offer the tools to help people lift themselves out of poverty. Stronger rights to land have the power to reduce poverty and conflict, increase economic activity, empower women, strengthen food security, and improve environmental stewardship — for an individual, a family, a community, and an entire country.

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