TODAY, unlike five months ago, Mzenga residents in Kisarawe District,Coast Region are living happily, thanks to this year’s rains. However, this situation is only temporary as the dry season is around the corner. People in this location draw water from ponds and unreliable water sources, all of which dry up during the dry season.
“Following a drought that hit our village, Vilabwa, and probably other parts of the country at the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017, women and children suffered a lot because of water shortage. We scrambled for the precious liquid with cattle,” says Kuluthumu Mbwana, a local area resident.
The mother of four says the only reliable village’s source of water, especially during the dry season, was privatized to livestock keepers, citing poor land planning and management on the part of local leaders.
That scenario, according to Kuluthumu culminated in a conflict at Vilabwa that only calmed down after the rainy season. “All sources of water in our village had dried up. I was forced to wake up at 5:00am with my bucket of water simply to search water at Vilabwa. Arriving here (water source) was one, getting the precious liquid for domestic consumption was another issue,” says the woman, pointing at a shallow well of contaminated water.
Pili Mussa Ramadhani, aged 40, is among of Kifuru sub-village women who also walked nearly two hours to the Vilabwa water source. But due to the privatisation of the area to the herders, she was forced to wait until the animals quenched their thirst before we could draw water from the shallow well.
According to the single mother, the situation was worsened given the fact that caring the four children by herself with limitation of basic social services like water was chaotic.
Sophia Ally Jumbe is a mother of four and lives in the same village in Mzenga ward. She says the lack of engagement of villagers in decision making is costing women and marginalized people dearly.
Citing the privatization of the water source to herders, selling of village lands which has brought misunderstandings among villages over boarders are among the consequences of land mismanagement.
“We are living peaceful here because cows have enough pastures and water at the moment. It will not take long before a conflict erupts as we are forced to share the same water sources,” says the mother of five children.
Vilabwa village executive officer (VEO), Sijali Amri Lugambwe says the situation was very bad when drought hit the Mzenga ward and other parts of the country at the end of the 2016 and the beginning of the 2017.
He adds that people and animals battled to get water at the vil lages’ only reliable source of water. “Women suffered and we (men) were forced to dig more into our pockets to buy water. Imagine we were bought a 20-litre bucket of water for Sh500, how much will someone spend for the whole family?” the leader queries.
The VEO admits that the village made a mistake by illegally privatizing the source of water, saying “we immediately held a meeting over the issue after experiencing the consequences of the decision. We, at village meeting, agreed not to sell the area again instead we will plan well how to manage the area for the betterment of the entire village.”
As villagers expresses how they suffered due to poor land management, Njeri Masanana, the secretary of association of herders says that “it was true that there was a conflict between them and other villagers but it didn’t last longer.”
He says there is a demarcation between herders and farmers in Mzenga though the management of the policy is poor regarding the fact that “big portion of land buyers at Vilabwa is affecting the equitable use of village’s land.”
On the other side, Mzenga ward executive officer Ambele admits that water is a critical issue in different parts. He says another reason that bought the conflict between villagers and herders at Vilabwa water source was failure by the leaders to adhere to land use policy that gives them power to make decisions over the resources.
Tanzania’s population is growing so rapidly while the country’s area of 945,087 km² remains constant. According to national population and settlements census of 2012, the country’s population has grown three times from 12.3 million people in 1967 up to 44.9 million people in 2012.
It is, therefore, approxi mated that Tanzania Mainland will be the home of 63.3 million people in 2025, when the current National Development Vision will end. The population growth will go in direct proportion to the number of conflicts should Land Act No.4 and Village Land Act No.5 passed by Parliament in 1999 not be honored.
Among other issues, the Acts empower village governments to “facilitate an equitable distribution of and access to land by all citizens.” Furthermore, the Village Land Act No. 5 of 1999 empowers village councils with legal mandate to set out rules of land law accessibly and in a manner which can be readily understood by all citizens.
It is in this Act where village governments are encouraged to dissemination of information about land administration of information about land administration and land law through programmes of public and adult education using all forms of media.