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UK royals told of land grabbing, herders tell UK royals


Ndinini Kimesera said the government was allocating vast tracts of land to commercial farmers, leaving rural people in Tanzania in the lurch.
The Citizen | Wednesday, 09 November 2011

UK royals told of land grabbing, herders tell UK royals     

By Zephania Ubwani
The Citizen Bureau Chief

Arusha. Pastoralists yesterday told Prince Charles and his wife Camilla that the current land tenure system was marginalising them.They also complained that foreigners were acquiring huge tracts of land in many areas across Africa for cultivating biofuel plants and for caring out conservation programmes at the expense of the indigenous people who were left landless.

“The customary pasture land has been taken over for conservation and by large-scale commercial farmers in the pretext of promoting investments,” said the executive director of the Arusha-based Maasai Women Development Organisation, Ms Ndinini Kimesera. She said the government was allocating vast tracts of land to commercial farmers, leaving rural people in Tanzania in the lurch.

 She noted that fears were growing about further land losses taking into consideration the fact that local communities were often not consulted in such undertakings.

“The loss of land has been a major threat to property rights. It has fuelled migrations and is threatening safety, security and sanitation,” she said during a brief stopover by Prince Charles of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at a Maasai boma near the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA).

Ms Kimesera is one of campaigners for girl education among traditional livestock keepers.Another civil society official, Mr Francis Shumet, said problems facing pastoralists had been compounded by a misconception among the policymakers that land in areas they inhabited was unoccupied.

Believing so, such policymakers had been giving the same land to  investors.“That is not true at all because we have our traditional system of mobility,” he said, calling on the government to engage MPs on matters pertaining to pastoralism and the donor community to support those advocating for the rights of the nomadic herders.

Mr Shumet is a programme officer with TAPHGO — a non-governmental organisation for the indigenous groups of people.

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