How the legal recognition of livestock associations helps poor rural households in Tanzania build resilience.
Flora is a wife and mother of five who lives in the Kiteto District, Manyara region in Tanzania. The rules governing shared grazing areas and sacred land are strict in the country, so both Flora and the other individual pastoralists were unauthorized to own this land as their livestock associations were not recognized as legal entities.
And then the accusations followed.
In September 2016, when the livestock from Flora’s village were grazing on the land, they were immediately accused of being “trespassers”, and were asked to withdraw their livestock from the land and answer queries. During the driest months of the year, the families were left with almost nothing – the happiness that came with the birth of Flora’s youngest son was quickly replaced with uncertainty.
“We lost all the income we were hoping to get,” she lamented. “I did not know what to do, how to feel about my children. My husband was thinking of going to Dar es Salaam or Arusha to earn at least something, but we could not even find the money for his ticket, so he decided to stay and do some construction work here.”
Flora saw an opportunity for change. The moment she learned about the implementation of Participatory Rangelands Management (PRM), a 48-month EU-funded flagship project through ILC, and implemented in her country by Tanzania Natural Resource Forum (TNRF), an ILC Member, and their partners including KINNAPA, a local NGO in Kiteto, she decided to take this opportunity. The idea behind the pilot project was to provide better livelihood and nutrition status to pastoralist communities in East Africa by improving the management of rangelands. The project’s aim is to attain secure and better use of rangelands, expanding the role of women in the selected pastoral communities in Tanzania and Kenya.
“The Kiteto District Commissioner, Mr. Tumaini Magesa, in person, and the District Executive Director, Mr. Kambona Tamimu, handed over Livestock Associations Certificates of Registration to the clusters of Allole, Kimbo and Napalai, as part of PRM project, a great step towards the proper governance of the rangelands for improved food security and livelihoods,” she explained.
The same day, June 24, the District Commissioner handed over 9 Certificates of Communal Rights of Occupancy to Calves Grazing Areas (or Alallilis) and Sacred Sites in Olengapa grazing cluster, covering 7,330 hectares, through the Global Support Initiates for Indigenous Community Conserved Areas, under UNDP Tanzania. This initiative is equally piloted by TNRF and KINNAPA in thirteen Indigenous Community Conserved Areas, to complement PRM and promote conservation in Tanzania.
The recognition does not only bring legal status, but also improves incomes. “Of course, with the certificates we can now manage, control the rangelands, but it goes beyond primary administration; it ensures that our families have enough to eat, especially during the dry seasons,” Flora pointed out. “The average income in the villages is about $1 per day. A well-fed livestock sells up to $500, given its weight, having been fed freely on the rangelands. With poor grazing, a price of a thin cow falls to $100, depriving us of recovering what we invest.”
Now Flora thinks she is better prepared for the future and is ready to overcome any difficulty her family may face.
“Before our associations obtained the certificates, I was uncertain about the future. Now I look at our future with pride and confidence: I can raise more livestock and even save a bit. I feel that I can soon send my elder sons to better schools, and have another baby."
The success would not have been possible without the strong partnership between TNRF and their local partners, among them KINNAPA, Ministry of Livestock, Kiteto District Council, National Land Use Planning Commission, Sokoine University of Agriculture, and the International Livestock Research Institute.
Besides the shared grazing areas comprising four clusters of villages in Tanzania, the pilot is also implemented in four sub-counties in Baringo County, Kenya.
The views expressed here are those of the author.