An inclusive multi-stakeholders approach empowers pastoral communities in Tanzania

Gilbert Tarimo and Savior Mbele
Thursday, August 2, 2018

Learning from how an approach gets better at securing grazing rights of pastoralists and gender equity in Tanzania 

How can constant reflection and learning help reduce land conflicts, foster women’s rights and land governance in Tanzania? That is the question the land governance-learning journey in Tanzania that took place in OLENGAPA -a shared grazing area in Kiteto district, Manyara region-on June 4-7 2018 set out to answer.

Following up on the first phase of the “Fostering Gender Equitable Land Governance for inclusive agricultural development including Pastoralism” project, which started in 2016, the learning journey sought to learn from the deep-seated changes happening in Tanzania.

Supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Irish Aid, the International Land Coalition (ILC), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and the Government of Tanzania, the project used a multi-layered and multi-stakeholders approach ILC developed, called the National Engagement Strategies (NES) to configure involvement into three components. The NES is ILC’s country level approach focused on building and harnessing multi-stakeholder national land platforms and strategies. Based on the approach, component one focuses on coordination, advocacy and policy dialogue, while component two and three seek to one, mobilise the civil society and monitor land based investments and two, support equitable land governance via village land use planning in rangelands.

Pastoralist celebrating at Olengapa/Photo credit:Israel Bionyi

The Tanzania Land Alliance (TALA) hosts the NES coordinator, who is responsible for the implementation of component one. Oxfam Tanzania is another contributor to component one, supporting activities targeting women’s land rights. The Tanzania Natural Resources Forum (TNRF) through a Land-Based Investment Technical Working Group coordinates component two, and ILRI through a Rangelands Working Group coordinates component three.  ILRI works with the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries (MoLF), National Land Use Planning Commission, Parakuyo Indigenous Community Development Organisation (PAICODEO), Kinnapa Development Programme and other local NGOs to implement component three.

To implement activities relevant to these components, NES Tanzania receives grants from ILC, but also support from other related processes. For example, the current major contributor to component three is the Sustainable Rangelands Management Project, a project that ILC has been supporting for the last eight years through IFAD, the ILC Rangelands Initiative (a commitment-based initiative of ILC) and others. Most recently, the project received funding from IFAD and Irish Aid, and the current phase focuses on scaling-up an innovation previously piloted – joint village land use planning (JVlUP). The JVlUP is a community- and government-led process that supports local level land use planning and the securing or rangelands for local rangeland users. Under the previous phase of the project, joint village land use planning was piloted in and across three villages – Orkitikiti, Lerug and Ngapapa – which led to the securing of a shared grazing area used by all villagers with livestock, called OLENGAPA. A fourth village joined the cluster last year.

The land governance-learning journey visited Orkitikiti, part of the OLENGAPA cluster. The learning route participants included 30 representatives from TALA, ILC, TNRF, the National Land Use Planning Commission (NLUPC), MoLF, Kinnapa Development programme, the European Delegation in Kenya and the ILC. The participants met with more than 150 beneficiaries at Orkitikiti village, the District Commissioner and the District Executive officer of Kiteto District, and the District Council staff that participated in the Sustainable Rangeland Management Project (SRMP) and the processes that led to the establishment of OLENGAPA. Two consultants from the Technical Centre For Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) applied the experience capitalisation approach to tap learning from the process. Experience Capitalisation is the process, through which an experience is identified, validated and documented, leading to learning. In this case, the process singled and documented a project site of component three but interviewed other component leaders throughout the journey.

The OLENGAPA experience

Between 2009 and 2015, several land use conflicts claimed the lives of over 34 people in Kiteto District. In response to land conflicts, the Government of Tanzania in collaboration with other stakeholders including, TNRF, Care Tanzania, KINNAPA, Mtandao wa Mazingira Chamwino (MMC), the Dodoma Environmental Network (DONET) and ILRI launched the SRMP in 2010 in Kiteto and districts.

Between 2010 and 2015, the SRMP assisted nine villages to carry out Village Land Use Planning (VLUP), a legal process to govern land recognised by the Land Act (1998) and the Village Land Act (1998), legal codes on land in the country. During this time, it was realised that a key innovative and legally-backed process could be used for securing resources shared across village boundaries, including grazing areas – JVlUP. The project piloted this approach working with local and national government, communities and CSO partners. The current phase of the project is now scaling-up the innovation. The process successfully guaranteed territorial protection and land rights through the land use planning of villages and certification of the grazing area of OLENGAPA.

What did we learn?

The area had been subject to several learning initiatives in the past. So what is new this time? What has changed?

Data gathered from different areas of the NES process indicates partners; implementers and beneficiaries have observed changes in their livelihoods and earned new knowledge. Many things happened in OLENGAPA, but the learning process has singled out four crucial ones for description.

Community empowerment

Earlier learning from the process revealed the community received new knowledge to sustainably manage their resources. They learned how to map resources using the participatory rangeland resource mapping approach, a tool the ILC Rangelands Initiative developed from experiences elsewhere, for field mapping. The approach helps pastoralists identify and define rangeland resources, how to access and use it sustainably, depending on the seasons and availability of resources. At Orkitikiti, villagers were very proud to tell participants of the learning exchange about their knowledge of the VLUP process. “Land use planning is important. Thanks to it, we located the area for grazing, farming and other human activities,” said Maria Mulugua Ole, a pastoralist woman in Orkitikiti. “It has helped us respect the boundaries and limitations planned.”

Maria Mulugua Ole/ILC/Israel Bionyi

At Orkitikit, the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries is supporting an initiative that allows pastoralists to try out new species of grasses in order to improve pastures that absorb less water around their secured land. The area gets just 800-1,000mm of rain a year and has no flowing river across. This innovation means there could be grazing vegetation for cattle in OLENGAPA even when there is limited rainfall.

Community profile raised

The success of the project during the first and second phase raised the profile of the community considerably. News about the process quickly spread to other communities and countrywide. The Government of Tanzania also received new requests to scale the JVlUP to other regions. OLENGAPA has now become a potent information yard for researchers, journalists and government. During the learning journey, for example, local video journalist, Mohamed Shaban visited OLENGAPA and gathered information for his YouTube channel and other media. As Christopher Mwamasage of the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development (MLHHD) puts it, OLENGAPA will be a study area now.

Secured access to rangelands

Thanks to the process, villages in the OLENGAPA cluster secured a combined landmass of about 59,007.5 hectares for grazing. By obtaining the group Certificate of Customary Rights of Occupancy (CCROs) issued by the state, livestock owners who use the grazing area of OLENGAPA have legal protection for tenure. CCROs are legal land recognitions provided under the Village Land Act. Research shows the approach helps in reducing land based conflicts.

Women land rights

Women received a new outlook in the community. Besides having secured grazing lands, they gained confidence, trust in front of the men and increasingly participate in decision-making processes. Creating a favourable condition to enhance women land rights was a key recommendation of the 2017 African Union declaration on land issues and challenges in Africa. The field visit found that women empowerment was an exceptional character of the process. For example, women now have a voice and can influence community actions. During the visit to OLENGAPA, it was a pleasant surprise to discover women sharing almost the same speaking time as men during public discussions. Women even have a seat in the OLENGAPA board. In the past, pastoral communities never allowed women to appear in public meetings with men as equals. “Sometimes our men would sell the land and cattle leaving us with nothing, but when OLENGAPA started, our men became aware of their actions and now we have the cattle and the land to feed our children,” said Mulugua Ole, a pastoralist woman from Orkitikiti.  “OLENGAPA has given us assurance because land is everything for us. Our cattle and us depend on land.”

Knowledge sharing

To understand what partners gained from the process, the capitalisation process focused on partners in Tanzania who participated in the NES process. Instead of focusing only on OLENGAPA, it widened its quest to the entire NES Tanzania process.

The learning journey presented a first-hand opportunity for partners to share knowledge with each other and communities. Partners often shared knowledge about perspectives and approaches but never fully grasped what it meant. “ I had been preaching the JVlUP but never been to the area where it was implemented,” said Bernard Baha, Coordinator of TALA. Visiting OLENGAPA completed Baha’s knowledge about the JVlUP. For staff at the MoLF, MLHHD and NLUPC, the learning process enabled for increased understanding of the NES process. For other local civil society partners, visiting OLENGAPA enabled increased appreciation of the SRMP and other participatory processes applied in the area. Beyond these, partners of the NES process shared knowledge during formal and informal meetings, without which performance would not be the same.


Kinnapa Development Programme, a local partner in the process, which serves the interests of pastoralists, small-scale farmers and hunter-gatherers, also benefited immensely from the process. Engaging in the process exposed Kinnapa to both national and international organisations, with extensive experience and knowledge in capacity strengthening. The Kinnapa team also learnt new techniques and approaches in the process. In the course of the project, for example, several capacity building activities trained Kinnapa staff on various areas, including conflict management, management and accounting. This transfer of knowledge increased Kinnapa’s confidence to tackle challenging issues.

A new twist

Over the years pastoralists increasingly become more settled, and during this time new challenges are sapping their energy. Water is one of them. “We women, we go for at least 3 hours searching for water,” Ms Mulugua from Orkitikiti confided to the visitors. The village has only one dam. With little rainfall, there is not enough water to sustain the village. Alternatively, focusing on bringing clean water to the villages could relieve communities.

Sunflower cultivation is gaining popularity in Tanzania. Cultivation requires huge parcels of land. Famers without land are beginning to encroach on grazing lands. In the neighbouring Amei village, a few kilometres from OLENGAPA, about 4000 farmers encroached on grazing areas in 2012. It took a painful eviction by the Government in 2017 to send the encroachers out. Pastoralists don’t feel their grazing areas are completely secure even with the protection afforded by JVlUP and land certification. A solution to this issue could come from encouraging pastoralists to better utilise and manage lands, so that it can scare off potential encroachers.

Gilbert Tarimo and Savior Mbele are consultants the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) through its Experience Capitalisation for Greater Impact project supported to document the learning journey. This blog is a summary of their findings.