How equitable access to natural resources enhances sustainable dev

17Mar 2018
Deo Mfugale
The Guardian
How equitable access to natural resources enhances sustainable dev

TANZANIANS can make significant strides towards sustainable development if the government at all levels would put in place conditions that promote access to natural resources so as to reduce hunger and poverty.

Prof. Evaristo Liwa, Vice-Chancellor of Ardhi University

Such efforts must be supported by civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations and other institutions by enhancing tenure rights so as to conserve and protect the environment and attain food security.

“Secure tenure rights and equitable access to land, fisheries and forests are important means of eradicating hunger and poverty, as well as supporting sustainable development.

“As a developing country, Tanzania is struggling towards enhancing food security and eradication of poverty but we could achieve a lot in this if we ensure secure tenure of and access to sources of livelihoods for our people, particularly those who are marginalised,” explained Prof. Evaristo Liwa, Vice-Chancellor of Ardhi University.

He was speaking at the official opening of the Stakeholder’s Workshop to Support Implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT) of Land, Fisheries and Forestry in Tanzania held in Dar es Salaam recently.

The workshop was organized by Ardhi University in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Among other things the workshop aimed to create awareness of the VGGT and to initiate a national process of implementing the Guidelines in Tanzania by bringing together all the key stakeholders.

Prof. Liwa said that developing countries are experiencing rapid population growth as result of which competition for natural resources has intensified, overpowering governing institutions’ capacity to address these new challenges and adapt to growing intensity of competition.

The marginalised communities which lack secure tenure and access to natural resources that are their sources of livelihoods become the losers in this competition.

The Voluntary Guidelines promote responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests, with respect to all forms of tenure that exist in the country.

They focus on land, fisheries and forests because these are the major sources of livelihoods for majority populations in developing countries.

The major goal of VGGT is to attain food security for all Tanzanians and to realise the right to adequate food in the context of national food security.

“The Guidelines are also meant to contribute to achieving sustainable livelihoods, social stability, housing security, rural development and environmental protection.

“The Guidelines promote sustainable social and economic development and are meant to benefit all people in the country, particularly the vulnerable and marginalised people,” said Dr Frederick Magina of Ardhi University, in one of the presentations made at the workshop.

Contributing to discussions during the workshop a representative from FAO who is also a Land Tenure and Food Security Specialist, Bradley Paterson, said that the UN agency is committed to working with the Tanzania government and other stakeholders to address food security.

“ In order to meet this target we must adhere to and support Responsible Governance of Tenure and access to land, fisheries and forests as a way of not only ensuring food security but also reducing poverty and promoting sustainable development,” he said.

During the workshop it emerged that now more than ever, there is increasing public concern on inequitable access to resources, discrimination, conflicts between farmers and pastoralists, forced evictions and corruption all of which deny marginalised communities access to natural resources.

Participants stressed the need to direct efforts towards addressing these issues through implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines as a means to enhance tenure rights and promote access to natural resources.

The workshop brought together stakeholders from the land, agriculture, fisheries and forest sectors, central and local government, civil society organizations and non-government organizations.

It was also attended by professionals, academicians, media, youth and women from both the private and public sector from various parts of Tanzania.