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Land rights in Tanzania

Everyone in Tanzania has the right to own land. But, without help, many of the country’s poorest farmers are unable to claim this right. With help from our supporters, Concern Worldwide is changing this. 

I recently travelled to Iringa in the southern highlands of Tanzania to see how Concern Worldwide is working to ensure the country’s poorest farmers get official ownership of their land. I also spoke to people about how the lack of formal land ownership could put Tanzanians at risk of land grabbing by foreign investors. 

Risk of land grabbing 

This is serious issue in many African countries. Some foreign companies have been accused of encroaching on village land or of buying land and not fulfilling their promises of job creation and infrastructure development. 

More problems

Most people in Tanzania don’t know about their rights or the benefits of land ownership. To make matters worse, the government has given low priority to land in its budget and plans. 

An important issue

There are many reasons why formal land ownership is important for farmers in Tanzania. For instance a number of farmers, including women, have been able to access loans from banks using their land as collateral. In two cases, borrowed money was used to buy power tillers. 

Joanisia Mikogoni, a widow aged around 60, told me how owning her land makes her feel more secure: 

We know that having the certificate of ownership means our land is protected. I can farm on it now securely, and when I die I know the people to whom I currently rent pieces of my land won’t take it away. My children’s inheritance will be safe.

Six years

Concern has been working with the issue of land tenure in Iringa and Mtwara districts for six years. With EU funding since 2009, we’ve expanded this work to a further seven districts. We’re also lobbying the government for increased funding for what we see as an essential commodity for economic improvement for Tanzanians, especially women. 

Success for our charity work 

Our work has proved to be hugely successful. This was obvious as we walked through the Iringa land offices. We witnessed what seemed like an endless workload of data entry of land coordinates, recording of names and writing of certificates. I felt proud of our work; we have made the land department really busy. 

In 2010 and 2011, Concern has helped to provide approximately 10,000 certificates of land ownership. This is making a real difference to some of Tanzania’s poorest people. 

Funded by the European Union