Dozens of women, wrapped in brightly colored kangas, some with babies strapped to their backs, stood beneath the shade of acacia trees in anticipation. Behind them, several hundred villagers gathered to witness this monumental event. This ceremony was the culmination of years of training, meetings, lobbying, and advocacy – something UCRT had been working towards for decades and something the women of Kiteto fought hard to see through. For the first time in history, the women of Kiteto District were granted Certificates of Customary Rights of Occupancy, giving them formal rights to the land they and their families have lived on for generations
Mr. Tamimu Kambona, the Kiteto District Council Director, handed out certificates to the women, offering them congratulations and encouragement.
With their land legally secured, over 50 Maasai women, mostly widows from Ngabolo and Ndedo villages, have a roof over their heads and can safely invest in economic ventures. After a series of land use planning seminars and good governance training, these women have the knowledge and resources they need to provide for themselves and their families.
Katrina, a member of the Women’s Rights and Leadership forum in Ngabolo Village said of “My proudest achievement so far is the unity we women now have. It gives us hope that now we can bind together to elect women to leadership positions. Our unity also supports each other from individual oppression – women are now stronger and safer in their own homes.”
UCRT’s Program Coordinator Edward Lekaita said the decision was made early on to secure women’s rights to own land in Kiteto, under the Land Act Number 5. “Our goal is to extend this project to other groups and villages as well.”
These certificates are extremely significant for pastoralist women across Tanzania as they remain highly vulnerable to violations of their land rights and other rights. This success represents the vast potential for social and political change in Tanzania when women are empowered to make decisions within their communities. We can’t wait to see what the future holds.
To date, UCRT has empowered over 80 villages to help them successfully secure 787,610 hectares of land.
Thank you to the Foundation for Civil Society for supporting this initiative.
Some of Tanzania’s last remaining hunter-gatherers, the Akie, were handed over land certificates at a ceremony in Kitwai village, Simanjiro District earlier this month. Local pastoralists were also granted land certificates, securing the largest track of prime grazing land for pastoralists’ livestock issued to date.
Attended by the Assistant Commissioner for Lands, Northern Zone, and other distinguished government representatives, including Simanjiro’s Member of Parliament, the regional livestock officer as well as community members, the ceremony formally awarded two Certificates of Communal Right of Occupancy (CCROs) to Kitwai A village and two to Kitwai B village, providing a cumulative 144,501 hectares secured for either livestock grazing or hunter gatherer traditional use.
Approximately 5,000 people living in these villages will benefit from this increased land security, protecting their livelihoods and their rights.
“CCROs reduce conflicts over land use, promote equal access and ownership to land, and secure communal rights to land and natural resources,” explains Edward Loure, Simanjiro Programme Coordinator for the Ujamaa Community Resource Team, the organization pioneering this model for securing local land rights. “These latest CCROs will help ensure that the Akie as well as the local pastoralists have official and recognized rights to access, use, and manage their land in the way that they want to – and in most cases, in the way they always have, which is sustainably” Loure says.
As part of the CCRO application process, villages need to establish formal land use plans, which includes agreeing on annual grazing calendars and traditional land uses in accordance with land capacity and conservation needs. Adherence to the land use plans will reduce cattle mortality caused by prolonged drought in the area and protect the natural environment through reduction of soil erosion caused by overgrazing.
“The pastoral community will now enjoy greater connectivity thanks to proper land use planning and facilitation of CCROs, improving livestock health in the case of pasture management and livestock mobility,” remarked Nyika Shaushi, Kitwai Ward Councillor, at the handing over ceremony.
At the ceremony, government official Baltazari Sulle recognized the large community effort involved in achieving the CCROs, and applauded the exemplary collaboration of all parties.
“I was part and parcel of the whole process, in collaboration with UCRT field staff, that led to productive results which also enhanced mutual collaboration between UCRT and the district council” he said.
Local Akie community beneficiary present at the ceremony, Laiharwa Lenae, echoed this sentiment in his remarks and noted the significance of the Akie gaining rights to their land, “we Akie have now obtained our first communal land certificate, giving us rights to control and manage our land.”
UCRT is a local grassroots civil society organization of pastoralists and hunter-gatherers who over the last two decades have worked across northern Tanzania to help more than 75 communities secure over half a million hectares of land. Over the past five years UCRT has pioneered this unique approach to helping highly marginalized groups secure communal rights to land across northern Tanzania, working closely with both district and national government officials as well as with communities themselves.
Local council and UCRT representatives said the ceremony commemorated their shared goals to support local people to manage and benefit from their land and natural resources in a peaceful and sustainable way.
“This is a great milestone,” said Loure. “Now that these communities have legal occupancy and usage plans for the land, the next step is to provide training on monitoring techniques of the land and resources. Through effective monitoring and land use, additional training will help support these communities to benefit from their resources through development of fair contracts between local community and private sector.”