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Rangelands: Improving the Implementation of Land Policy and Legislation in Pastoral Areas of Tanzania: Experiences of Joint Village Land Use Agreements and Planning


Resilience-building planning in drylands requires a participatory, integrated approach that incorporates issues of scale (often large scale) and the interconnectedness of dryland ecological and social systems. In an often political environment that supports small, “manageable” administrative units and the decentralisation of power and resources to them, planning at large scale is particularly challenging; development agents in particular may find it difficult to work across administrative boundaries and/or collaboratively.

In Tanzania, the Village Land Act No. 5 of 1999 (VLA) and the Land Use Planning Act No. 6 of 2007 (LUP Act) guide planning at the local level. The VLA (sections 12 and 13) grants power to Village Councils (VCs) and their institutions to prepare participatory village land use plans (VLUPs). The LUP Act (sections 18, 22, 33, and 35) provides for the formation of planning authorities, functions, and procedures of developing participatory VLUPs and approval processes, and grants power to VCs to prepare those plans.

The Tanzania National Land Use Planning Commission’s Guidelines for Village Land Use Planning, Administration and Management (the NLUPC Guidelines – April 2013 revised version) detail six main steps to follow when developing participatory VLUPs. Despite this guidance, limited resources mean that village land use planning rarely gets beyond Step 4 of six, and support for the actual implementation of plans is lacking or extremely limited.

Village land use planning in rangelands faces particular challenges. Lands held by individual villages are generally not sufficient to sustain rangeland production systems such as pastoralism, and so demand a sharing of resources across village boundaries. There is low awareness on land use planning amongst district governments and communities, and conflicts over boundaries are common. Conventional land use planning tends to limit the mobility of pastoralists and others such as hunter-gatherers, whereas the semi-arid and arid environment of these areas demands that this mobility is retained.

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