The Problem of Land Grabbing in Tanzania

We recently announced that we have funded ActionAid in support of a project to map incidents of land grabbing in rural Tanzania. It’s a huge problem affecting vast swathes of the country, as the following update from ActionAid clearly shows:

Halima Ali with her son Hamsa Shabani, 6, at home in Mhaga village, Tanzania. Photo: Tom Pietrasik/ActionAid

Halima and her community lost their land to a UK biofuels company.  They were promised fair compensation and badly-needed social services in exchange – but none of these promises have been kept. Halima is now struggling to survive and is campaigning to reclaim the rights of her family and community.

Halima Ali says her involvement in local politics is motivated by a desire to have women’s voices represented in village decision-making. She has found it increasingly difficult to feed her family since they lost access to common land now owned by the company. Ali used to rely on this common land to derive an income from timber collection and charcoal production. Without access to nearby wells now on the biofuels plantation, Halima now has to travel 6.5km to collect water during the dry season.

Halima Weli, Palaka, with her grandsons Adam Rashidi and Riziki Mwalimu and grandaughter Sabrna Mwalimu. Photo: Tom Pietrasik/ActionAid

Halima Weli (right) has lost land to a biofuels plantation that has acquired 8,000 hectares of land in the Kisarawe region of Tanzania.

Residents of the eleven villages surrounding the plantation are very unhappy and angry at the way they have been treated. Land has been grabbed with little or no compensation resulting in a loss of livelihood. Residents have lost access to water sources as well as the grave-sites of ancestors. Public amenities including schools, dispensaries and wells, promised as part of a compensation package for local residents, have not materialised.

The text and photos for this post were provided by ActionAid.