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What do you need to know about land rights?

The protection of land rights through law and practice matters now more than at any other time before. This recognition has to do with contemporary drivers of ‘land grabbing’ within the international and national contexts. Demands for alternative sources of energy in Europe in recent years fostered a rush for agricultural land in Tanzania. It is estimated that at one time, application for lands for biofuel investments reached some 4 million ha. Besides biofuel, increasing changing food prices triggered a high demand for lands to grow food. Agriculture generally in itself has been a cause to worry in terms of the amount of land required for investments. Renewed interest in investing in agriculture has potentially positive and negative impacts. While it could lead to transformation of agricultural practices in the best interest of investors and small land holders, it could also have adverse impacts in terms of land alienation to meet the growing demand for land. This is the reason why capacity to exercise land and resources rights is now so important.

Villages manage about 70% of land in Tanzania. This means that villages are the most likely place to find land for investments. Villagers need to know the laws applicable to land based investments and the rights they can claim. Besides the framework land laws that will be discussed shortly, there are other laws that regulate the management of resources attached to the land. While land rights relate to the right to own, use and manage land they are closely intertwined with the right to own, use and manage land based resources such as forests, water, minerals, pasture and
petroleum. This brief only deals with the land legislation but where relevant it also touches on other laws regulating other resources.

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Publication information

  • IIED code: G03788
  • Published: Mar 2014 - TNRF and IIED
  • Area: Tanzania
  • Theme: Law
  • Language: English

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