After waiting for decades in despair, the pastoralist community in Mbulu district, Manyara region finally on Friday secured a Certificate of Customary Rights of Occupancy (CCRO) to safeguard their threatened grazing land.
The community, which lives in a hidden natural resources rich corner of the far north of Tanzania, has struggled for years to obtain the CCRO, but in vain.
Now they have a reason to smile, thanks to the tireless efforts by Ujamaa Community Resource Team (UCRT), an NGO working for the rights of marginalized indigenous communities, for fighting hard to get the grazing land title deed.
The CCRO, which was handed over by the Mbulu District commissioner, Anatoly Choya, will protect nearly 38, 358 hactres of land comprising three villages namely, Yaeda Chini, Domanga and Mongo wa Mono from being encroached by competing land users.
“This CCRO will go far in minimizing land disputes related tension among the different land users,” Choya said during a colorful ceremony to hand over the much-awaited certificate held at Yaeda Chini village.
Receiving the CCRO on behalf of the pastoralist community, Barabaig elder Gidagaoga Musungu expressed gratitude to UCRT for fighting hard to get the government to recognize them and issue the title deed.
“We are now sure that our grazing land will be safe from being invaded by land hungry farmers. We thank UCRT for their effort to assist us in obtaining CCRO,” Musungu stated.
UCRT official, Dismas Partalala Meitaya said that not being in a position to fight for their own rights, the indigenous are in need of protection.
Meitaya has strongly discouraged the community against misuse of the customary land title deeds because sooner or later some scrupulous persons may tempt them with gifts and convince them to give up the collective bonding title in preference to transferable individual customary occupancy titles.
“The official CCRO documents are a great victory. The indigenous people are now secure and will not take threats to their ancestral land lying down,” he emphasized.
A UCRT lawyer, Edward ole Lekaita said: “Indeed, this is a great achievement and successful story in the struggle of protecting indigenous livelihood for a promising future.”
This is the second CCRO after the October 2011 when UCRT successfully managed to help Tanzania's remaining hunter-gatherer tribe of Hadzabe acquiring a CCRO they fought for many years to protect their communal land.