Surveying entire country’s land commendable

ON Friday, the government through the Ministry of Land, Housing and Human Settlement Development expressed its commitment to survey the entire country’s land to end land disputes, a chronic problem facing the nation.

Speaking in Parliament while winding up the debate for the ministry’s 2023/24 budget speech Minister Angelina Mabula said surveying the country’s land will go hand in hand with encouraging its proper use.

She said her office will embark on a massive land mapping programme in the next financial year to address the growing land conflicts.

She said the ministry is well organised to end land disputes and prevent the occurrence of new ones by speeding up the surveying process.

The minister was forced to make the commitment following concerns raised by MPs with regard to conflicts that have consistently been occurring between pastoralists and farmers.

During the debate, majority of legislators advised the government to look at how best it can handle land disputes as well as conflicts that have been recurring in various parts of the country, some threatening people’s lives.

For years now Tanzania has been witnessing the recurring land conflicts pitting farmers against pastoralists, farmers against conservation authorities or conservation authorities against pastoralists.

Tanzania has the National Land Policy and other corresponding laws that categorise the land in the country as general, reserved and village land. All land that is not categorised as reserved or village land, as well as uninhabited or unused village land, is defined as general land.

Reserved land includes hazardous land and all land designated for forest reserves, national parks, game reserves, conservation areas, public utilities, and highways.

The Land Act, which was initially one act but later divided into two, recognises two categories of land tenures: customary and statutory tenures.

Experts in land matters say land titling is one of the objectives of the National Land Policy in the country.

However, this approach has numerous challenges.  They say that although the Land Act and Village Land Act recognise customary tenure and empower village governments to manage the village land, various villagers and communities are subjected to the insecurity of customary land.

They give an example saying with the lack of surveyed or registered communal land designated to pastoralists and hunters-gatherers, the herders are forced to use reserved land, which is under strict protection, or they use community land, thereby causing regular land conflicts.

According to the experts titling of community land can prevent land conflicts and deforestation but titling process can’t be implemented due to failure to survey land.

Numerous studies conducted in the country examined factors contributing to the occurrence of farmer-herd conflicts, pointing to policy deficiencies and contradictions, corruption practices, insecurity of land tenure, inadequate capacity in village land use planning, and lack of land information as major contributing factors.

The announcement by the minister on the intention to survey the entire country’s land is commendable simply because it will be a major step towards ending land conflicts.

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