Rangelands: Village land use planning in rangelands in Tanzania: good practice and lessons learned | Land Portal

Resource information

Date of publication: 
December 2013
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ISBN / Resource ID: 

Rangelands provide numerous goods and services that have great economic, social, cultural, and biological value. Inhabitants of rangelands have engineered pastoral, hunter-gatherer, and farming systems that have sustained their livelihoods in these usually dry environments for centuries. Primarily, rangelands are grazing-dependent systems, characterised by dry periods and droughts. However, these characteristics should not be a barrier to development and can be managed through careful planning and management of resources.

Rangeland communities’ territories are closely associated with permanent water points. Some differentiate between “territories of transhumance” (wet grazing areas) and “territories of anchorage” (dry grazing areas), which enclose strategic resources such as wells and riverside grazing. Pastoralists employ highly specialised risk-spreading strategies to safeguard herds in this harsh environment.

Introducing village land use planning (VLUP) processes in a rangelands context is challenging. Pastoralist and hunter-gatherer production systems often require movement across village boundaries to access or share grazing or water resources. Pastoralists and hunter-gatherers may classify and use land in ways that do not fit easily with government definitions or processes. Grazing is often patchily distributed, and large areas of rangeland with flexible use are required. Pastoralism and hunter-gathering are integrated and multiple-use land use systems, which rely upon collective use and management of natural resources by customary institutions. Unless due care and attention is given to the process and outcome, VLUP may conflict with all of these requirements.

This document, developed by the Sustainable Rangeland Management Project (SRMP), seeks to suggest improvements to the VLUP process in order to better contribute to sustainable rangeland management. It brings together experience from different organisations and government departments working on VLUP in rangelands areas of Tanzania, as well as relevant lessons from other contexts.

Despite a wealth of land-related legislation, pastoralists in Tanzania are considered highly vulnerable in terms of land security. The implementation of legal frameworks and government initiatives has often denied their rights, and they have been forcibly evicted from traditional lands to make way for large-scale farming and other activities. The policy environment fuels conflict, with contradictions between different pieces of legislation. The planning process can be over-complicated and burdensome, and villages require external support to demarcate their boundaries.

The Village Land Act (VLA) of 1999 provides for the management and administration of land within village boundaries. It recognises communal land for certain groups, but is vague when it comes to titles for traditionally held customary land. Despite perceptions to the contrary, the authority of Village Councils (VCs) covers only certain rural lands, and a large portion remains under the control of traditional systems of land allocation and tenure. A potential conflict exists between village authorities and traditional authorities in terms of land management, and there are also problems in defining pastoral tenure and practice.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Flintan, Fiona


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The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (UNCCD) is a Convention to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought through national action programs that incorporate long-term strategies supported by international cooperation and partnership arrangements.


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