Hanang pastoralists secure customary rights over land

Sunday January 3 2016

Hadzabe prepare meat for meal. It is estimated

Hadzabe prepare meat for meal. It is estimated that there are over 800 Hadzabe in Tanzania today living near the shores of Lake Eyasi. In Mongomano/Domanga in Mbulu District 23,000ha of land been secured under the Customary Right of Occupancy specifically for the Hadzabe. PHOTO|The Citizen Correspondent 

By Zephania Ubwani

Katesh. Pastoralists in Hanang District, Manyara Region who continuously risk losing grazing land due increasing pressure from other users can now smile following an intervention geared towards assisting them acquire customary title deeds.

The Ujamaa Community Resource Team (UCRT), a non-governmental organisation, has todate helped in the secure of Certificates of Customary Right of Occupancy covering over 5,500 hectares to the livestock keepers in five villages within the district since the programme started a few years ago.

“The programme is designed to help protect areas set for grazing in Hanang,” said the NGO’s field officer in the area, Mr Albert Massuja, said noting that the customary right of land ownership is well articulated in the Land Act No.5 of 1999.

Villages covered under the programme are Mureru (2,113 hectares),Mogitu (300 ha), Dirma (1,675 ha),Gehandu (107.99 ha) and Miyng’enyi 741 hectares.

A lawyer with the Arusha-based UCRT Edward Ole Lekaita said the targeted communities under the programme are the nomadic Barbaig and Maasai traditional livestock keepers in Hanang, Mbulu and Simanjiro districts in Manyara and Monduli District in Arusha Region. Also involved are the hunter-gatherer Hadzabe who inhabit the marginal areas within the Lake Eyasi basin and who are equally threatened by diminishing land due to encroachment of farmers and livestock keepers.

Villages which have benefited are Mongomano/Domanga in Mbulu where 23,000ha of land been secured under the Customary Right of Occupancy specifically for the Hadzabe and Eshkesh/Mongoamono ( 36,000 ha) for the Barbaig, a Nilo Hamitic group also referred to as Datoga. According to Mr Lekaita, the biggest patch of land placed under the customary land ownership is 100,000ha at Kitwai A and Kitwai B in Simanjiro District while in Monduli District, some 1,600ha are covered under the programme at Nailolia village.

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The lawyer, who is also an activist advocating for the rights of nomadic pastoralists, acknowledged the existence of land crisis in Bassotu plains surrounding the former wheat farms under the defunct National Agricultural and Food Corporation (Nafco) in Hanang.

“We will talk to somebody supervising the progamme in Hanang on how to secure the title deeds for pastoralists in Bassotu area,” he told The Citizen on Sunday.

Mr Lekaita said nomadic pastoralists in Tanzania are at risk of losing all their areas because grazing land is not protected compared to private property such as a piece of land owned by an individual because such piece of land for grazing animals is largely seen as a collective property. “It (grazing land) is like nobody’s land...no-man’s land. This has created loopholes for land grabbing,” he said, adding that activists were trying to formulate an institution which can take care of land for the nomadic pastoralists, hence issuing Certificates of Customary Right of Occupancy.

After a pressure dating back to the late 1980s to have their land which was taken over for wheat cultivation back, the government finally yielded three years ago when it surrendered two of the seven estates formerly under Nafco in Hanang.

These are Warret and Gawal which were handed over to the farmers and livestock keepers respectively. Last week, the villagers surrounding the former state-owned farms lately leased to private investors, strongly demanded that they be given to other farms - Mulbadaw and Murjanda - for grazing their animals and farming since they were facing a serious shortage of land.