Edward Loure and The Nature Conservancy have a common story. The story is one of reducing conflict by finding common ground—in this case both literally and metaphorically.
All over the world—in fact, for 2.5 billion people—lives depend on land and natural resources that are held, used or managed collectively. These communities, including 370 million indigenous people, call more than half of the world’s surface home, but have formally recognized rights to a mere 10 percent of that land. In most cases, these people are the best stewards of the land and its resources. They need strong rights and they need benefits. They need a voice.
As director of the Ujamaa Community Resource Team (UCRT), Edward’s work, and the work of partners in the Northern Tanzania Rangelands Initiative (NTRI), has been about providing a voice for such communities—in particular pastoralists and hunter-gather groups—whose livelihoods depend on communal lands.
If communities lack title over their lands and don’t have enforceable land-use plans that define the kind of activities permitted in certain zones, such as settlement, grazing and agriculture, then those communities are at risk of losing control of the lands and the very resources they need to survive.
Explaining land rights to people who have always lived on the land
Over the past five years, UCRT—together with its NTRI partners including The Nature Conservancy, Dorobo Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society and Maliasili Initiatives—have pioneered a unique approach to help marginalized communities secure communal rights to land across northern Tanzania.
It is called a Certificate of Customary Right of Occupancy (CCRO), and in its first year roughly 22,000 hectares of collective lands were secured this way. By the end of 2015, this number had reached 90,000 hectares, with another 200,000 hectares expected by the end of 2017.
A CCRO is a form of customary land tenure within a larger village holding. This is an effective tool for strengthening community land rights and securing communal lands. Historically, it granted parcels of land to individuals for farming, but the UCRT has modernized the tool to formally secure land for collective use such as livestock grazing or collection of forest produce such as roots and tubers. The collective nature of the title means that transactions and subdivisions can only take place with the consent of the entire group, thus providing greater tenure security to at-risk communities and minorities.
By expanding this model, especially across Tanzania’s rangelands, we are seeing reduced conflicts over land, more equal access and ownership, and secure communal rights to land over the long-term as the basis for pastoralist livestock production and land management systems.