Participatory Land Use Planning as a Tool for Community Empowerment in Northern Tanzania
Across much of Africa, surging competition over land and resources amongst local, national,and international groups of people is threatening to deprive local rural communities of control over and access to the territories and natural resources upon which their livelihoods depend. Development strategies that reconcile emerging conflicts over land and natural resource use, and which provide local communities with secure rights and tenure, are increasingly critical to rural livelihoods and sustainable development.
Tanzania has a progressive policy and legal framework for strengthening local communities’collective land and resource tenure, based on local government institutions developed in the 1970s and land reforms carried out in the 1990s. This enables registered villages to secure rights over defined areas, and to develop local by-laws and land use plans governing use of lands and resources, including zoning both communal and individually-controlled lands.
This paper presents several case studies to show how the Ujamaa Community Resource Team (UCRT) has been working within Tanzania’s legal and policy framework to support a diverse range of pastoralists, agro-pastoralists and hunter-gatherers, all of whom face fundamental threats from external appropriation of, or encroachment on, lands and natural resources. The work also responds to local needs to rationalise resource use rights amongst~competing local groups, such as farmers and livestock keepers. By using participatory land use planning, it is possible to balance the need to secure local tenure with the need to maintain flexibility and mobility across larger areas according to traditional adaptive management practices in semi-arid environments. It can also strengthen the voice of local groups in the face of external pressures.