Tanzania: multiple stakeholders debate land governance challenges

Masalu Luhula, Programme Officer, Tanzania Natural Resource Forum
Masalu Luhula-TNRF
Friday, February 9, 2018

Tanzania is currently reviewing its national land policy. To better enrich the process, the Tanzania Natural Resource Forum (TNRF) is encouraging inclusive participation of multiple stakeholders via public debates and discussions at all levels. 

TNRF, an ILC member first supported multi-actors discussions at district levels, before collaborating with the NES process in Tanzania and Policy Forum to set up a national debate on the issue.

From researchers, academia, land and gender experts, to government officials, civil society and the private sector, over 40 stakeholders gathered at the British Council in Dar es Salaam, on November 24th 2017 and discussed land challenges and opportunities to strengthen the new policy in making.

The debate focused on people centred land governance and I talked about possible solutions to protect rights of the poor and vulnerable including women, while Dr Stephen Nindi, Director for the National Land Use Plan Commission (NLUPC) discussed the contribution of land use plan in the protection of community land and for the enhancement of land governance

Protecting community lands

Three questions were discussed at the debate. The first asked participants if there was need to protect community lands in Tanzania and whether the land use plan is the best way to do so? The participatory community land use planning is a process used in ensuring effective, sustainable and fair use of communal lands. Participants in their great numbers said community lands need protection, since communities undergo countless land related challenges everyday.

Though the land use plan is gaining popularity in rural areas, because of its inclusive approach and positive results, it was also agreed this solution is not all the community need to protect its lands. Promoting and supporting effective implementation of the existing national, regional and international guidelines on land based investments, could be another element to guarantee protection.These includes; the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security and the Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa.

Furthermore, ensuring that the government in ongoing reforms fully recognise and protects customary tenure of land and other natural resources as real and defendable property rights, were some popular views voiced.

Debating people centred land governance

The second question focused on effective methods to ensuring people land governance. Debates on this question stated clearly that mainstreaming gender in land governance is very crucial. Moreover, participants argued complete decentralisation that allows community through village assemblies to make decisions on land and effective engagement and inclusion of communities in the policy reform processes could be extremely helpful.

Leasing and acquisition

The final question touched on investment and leasing of community lands. “ Should leases be revisited- for instance be limited to 5 and 20 years? Or project wise?” the facilitation asked audiences. While discussions about this topic were divergent at the start, increased thoughts converged towards the idea that dialogue to promote new land tenure arrangements is necessary. As the deliberations persisted, it was increasingly evident that compulsory land acquisition for investment has caused many land challenges. For stakeholders, communities entering into partnerships with investors should have model contracts and ensure contracts are translated into simple language for community understanding. For large-scale land acquisitions, debaters thought alternative business models for large-scale land acquisitions in land-based investments, which do not require land acquisition is required to protect small producers from big investors.

Finally, the debate provided a platform for stakeholders with diverse views to reflect and discuss land matters and community land protection. Most importantly, it expresses the wish of the National Engagement Strategy in Tanzania (NES-Tanzania), which considers including multiple stakeholders in such a process as a way of enriching and informing it.

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Masalu Luhula

Masalu is a programme officer at TNRF who is passionate about protecting community land rights


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the position of ILC Africa.