Case Study: Protecting the Last of the Akie
The Akie or ‘Dorobo’ people don’t have records, but they know from stories passed down through generations that their people have lived in the Kitwai area for hundreds of years. They are an ancient tribe of hunter-gatherers who strive to live today as their ancestors have for many generations. However, difficulties for the Akie way of life began about 10 years ago.
“Climate change has impacted the bees and their honey production, which is a staple in our diet. Also climate change has caused increasing drought in this area, which is impacting the natural food sources available” says local woman Anna.
“Increasingly we are experiencing issues from outsiders coming onto the land. The serious issues escalated six years ago when farmers began heavily cultivating the land surrounding us, which destroyed our natural food sources. Before UCRT came, people from Kiteto began demarcating the area by painting trees within our traditional Akie lands to claim them. Then our village reported our issues to the local government at Kitwai A” she says.
UCRT Simanjiro field officer Paulo Rokongo says he remembers working with Kitwai A at the time.
“When the people of Kitwai B first approached Kitwai A about their land-grabbing issues, we didn’t even know there was another Akie community in the area! The community told us about the problems their community was facing, we approached the village and made introductions to begin assisting them” he says.
Anna remembers that first briefing meeting with UCRT representatives.
“The people from UCRT came and briefed us on the possible opportunity to secure our land. The community met and agreed to go ahead with the process, electing a committee of men and women to work with UCRT as representatives.”
The village were experiencing conflict with many surrounding people of Kiteto, though in particular the villages of Amme and Loliera. UCRT assisted with mediated meetings which resulted in collective agreement of fair boundaries for the Kiteto villages and the Akie people. The formal CCROs for the Akie land were awarded in 2016, to great celebration by the local people.
“We had a big ceremony for the whole area which everyone attended. We invited our local people as well as maasai and others from the surrounding districts, and we slaughtered bulls and celebrated with singing and dancing” recalls Anna.
Akie leaders say that the CCRO has come at a time of great need, to help protect their land from the rapidly growing populations around them.
“When the land here is healthy and we receive enough rain the food sources here are enough for our people. But with drought already reducing the natural resources it has become even more crucial to protect and access our traditional lands. Climate change is having a big impact on our ability to live in our traditional way, even with the land now secure. We are beginning to work with UCRT to establish some shambas (crop farming) to help ensure some food security for our families."
Introducing food cultivation into their way of life will be a huge cultural change for the Kitwai B community, and is a step they are devastated to take.
“Much as we don’t want to, it is becoming necessary to change our traditional way of living. The land and environment is changing and so we must change too. Hunting is now illegal in Tanzania – even for us – and the natural resources are no longer abundant enough for us to live on gathered foods alone. It is sad, but necessary to adapt to secure our community wellbeing” they say.
One alternative to entirely altering their way of life is to establish a source of income for the village.
“We are now looking to establish some tourism activity in the area if possible. Obtaining income from tourism with provide the means to purchase additional food when necessary without having to disturb the natural land around us with cultivation” Anna says.
UCRT are looking to the future with Kitwai B and working toward sustainable income opportunities for their community.
“This is a remote area, so it won’t be easy” says Paulo.
“But the Akie communities are an important part of Tanzania’s cultural history and treasure. We must do what we can to preserve these people and their land.”
“The CCRO process has increased communication with surrounding communities and built reciprocal relationships for land use.
My son Elias is 13 years old. He has been involved in hunting with his father since he was 6 years old. I’m so happy and excited to see our land protected, so that I can wish for this land to remain for my son’s future."
- Anna, local villager, Kitwai B
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