Living and working on un-surveyed land has contributed to increasing disputes between community members and between one community and another because of disputes over boundaries of plots of land; the boundaries were only set by word of and although sometimes trees planted by one party served to show boundaries, these were rarely honoured.
These conflicts resulted not only in breaking social harmony and peace among villagers but also fuelled incidents of violence pitting farmers against pastoralists. People were murdered, livestock was killed and properties, such as houses, were completely demolished.
In a bid to address the problems the government of United Republic of Tanzania with support from development partners implemented (are they still implementing? If not say when the project started and when it ended) a pilot project namely the Land Tenure Support Program ((LTSP) in Kilombero, Malinyi and Ulanga districts in Morogoro region.
The LTSP that implemented under the Ministry of Land, Housing and Human Settlements and expected to be completed this year .was aimed to conduct land survey and help people to access Customary Certificates of Rights of Occupancy (CCROs) in the respective districts.
In implementing the project, the government conducted land surveys the government coordinated and conducted land survey and awarded customary certificates of rights of occupancy (CCROs) to the villagers and community groups. The CCROs thus allowed the villagers to claim ownership of the pieces of land on which they worked and lived because they had legal evidence to that claim.
On the other hand, several civil society organizations through the Tanzania Land Alliance (TALA) were later engaged in the LTSP project, to enhance transparence, accountability and equitable land governance and effective land administration systems.
A NEW CHAPTER OF LIFE FOR COMMUNITIES)
Implementation of LTSP has brought a new lease of life among villagers, now that conflicts rarely erupt and people are assured of ownership of land through the CCROs. Surveying of parcels of land has also enable owners to engage in land use planning as a result of which they can use their property for economic activities other than farming and grazing.
“I got a CCRO for my land and now I feel confident to use my piece of land as I wish. Some people have acquired bank loans through their CCROs and others have drawn and implemented lad use plans,” explains Gualbelto Abdallah (45), a farmer in Idunda village, Ulanga district. He says that implementation of LTSP has created awareness of the importance of having a certificate of ownership of land among villagers and many people now realize the value of land.
However, Abdallah notes that despite the benefits, the use of new technology in land assessment has led to new disputes between village governments and between individuals.
“You may find a certain village claims ownership of a piece of land basing on boundaries previously set by the government, but using new technology that has come with implementation of LTSP, the boundaries are shifted to another village,” he says.
As a result residents of Idunda who claim to have lost a piece of land because the boundaries were shifted have lodged a complaint against one of the public officers in Ulanga District Council. They argue that he was involved in the previous survey and setting of the original boundaries and later influenced the changes through LTSP.
“Before the LTSP experts surveyed our land, the previous boundaries were set, recognized and respected by all neighboring villages but surprisingly, we saw him engaged in reallocating our piece of land to another village,” claims one of the residents of Idunda village when speaking on behalf of his colleagues.
Idunda is one of the villages facing the post-assessment and land ownership disputes. It claims that part of its land has been reallocated to neighboring Chikuti and Ikungua villages.
Ulanga District Land Officer, Venance Huruma, confirms about the allegations and notes that they indicate lack of awareness among communities on the land survey conducted through LTSP.
According to Huruma, previous surveys were conducted using a poor technology that led to a total area of between eight and 10 kilometers between one village and another becoming no-man’s land as none of the villages could claim ownership.
“So during the implementation of LTSP which uses new technology, the actual size of their area remained the same but changed in shape. This is the reason for their claims. But I think we should have told them what was going to happen with the use of the new technology so that they become aware of the expected changes,” he explains.
In Kilombero District CCRO means money
According to the Land Officer attached to the LTSP in Kilombero District, Faraja Nkwere, 58 out of 99 villages in the district council were surveyed and land owners awarded customary certificates of right of occupancy (CCROs).
“Nine land owners including community groups and individuals have utilized their CCROs as collaterals to access bank loans worth 3bil/- from Tanzania Postal Bank, National Microfinance Bank (NMB) and CRDB Bank,” he says, adding
that the figures were obtained from the loan registration desk which is located at the district council, with the consent of both the banks and the borrowers. “Other beneficiaries did not register their loans so as to avoid the fee of T Sh. 120,000 that is required to register each loan.
LTSP nourishing people and the environment
While LTSP has resolved many land-based conflicts and raised incomes among the beneficiaries, the project has also contributed to conservation of the environment particularly in the areas of land and water management.
Some residents in Idunda village disclosed that LTSP have enabled them to participate in water resources management and conservation of Nampazi Forest.
Although there were no bylaws made for this purpose, residents reached a consensus to prevent human activities within the forest and around water sources without the approval of the village government. Those who want to cut logs for timber processing must also get a permit from the District Forest Officer.
The Malinyi District Council Land Surveyor, Steven Zayumba, says that land ownership through CCROs has reduced conflicts although new ones have developed in some places. “Implementation of LTSP has raised awareness of the value of lad among villagers and communities and this has made people claim ownership of which otherwise they would of have done. The conflict between Madibila and Kipenyo is a typical case of such claims,” he says.