THE Hadzabe people, residents of Yaeda Valley, Mbulu District in Manyara Region, who have defied modern living, are acquiring basic skills on how to survive in a globalised world, where investment in land translates into money.
Last year the Hadzabe people received land title deeds after threats of eviction by an Arab investor through the tour company, Tanzania United Arab Emirates (UAE) Safaris Limited. "It was a historic feat," said Richard Baalo, Development Officer of Mbulu District Council.
Mr Baalo said the Hadzabe acquired the title deeds from the Assistant Commissioner for Land in the Northern Zone, Doroth Wanzala earlier this year.
"After sensitisation conducted by the Tanzania Pastoralist, Hunters and Gatherers Organization, (TAPHGO), the Hadzabe people stood up against the investor and Mbulu District Council Officials," Baalo said, pointing out that without support from Tanzania Land Alliance (TALA) and TAPHGO, the Hadzabe and other tribes like the Barbaig, would have been evicted from Yaeda Valley.
"We are happy that it's all over," said Jonga Kitandu who is the Eshkesh Ward representative pointed out that since 2006 the fate of the highly marginalised people was at stake as soon as the investors arrived in Mbulu. "The investors have left and have taken away their tents and other camping equipment.
Yaeda valley is once again a peaceful area and the residents are happy," said Mandege Naftal. Since 2006, the 3,975 square kilometer Yaeda Valley was a pawn for controversy following a proposal by the investors who intended to take over the entire area and turn it into a hunting arena.
The Hadzabe who have been living in Yaeda Valley for over 100,000 years and number less than 5,000 have not only acquired a title deed for their land but also skills on environmental protection and how to better govern their natural resources. "TAPHGO is training the Hadzabe on proper land use, conflict resolution and environmental protection.
In fact we have started environment and forest protection youths groups," said Pili Guddo who works with an NGO called the Survival Council of Tanzania. The Hadzeba have addressed different forums and the media on their plight. "Many Hadzabe travelled as far as Dar es Salaam to get their voices heard," said Ms Guddo.
Currently, TAPHGO is lobbying to amend the 1997 Investment Act and the 1999 Village Land Act which have impacted negatively on minority communities like the Maasai, Hadzabe and Barbaig. Last year, TAPHGO prepared a report highlighting the plight of pastoral communities, hunters and fruit gatherers who have suffered at the hands of authorities who defend investors.
Findings in the report show that pastoralists are justified to worry about the Tanzania Investment Act which seems to favour investors. While land issues are a major concern, education of the girl-child is equally important in pastoral communities.
Visiting the country last year, Prince Charles from the united Kingdom and his wife Camilla met with pastoralist and hunter-gatherer communities from Arusha and Manyara regions and learnt how British aid through the Foundation for Civil Society supports organisations like TAPHGO.
During a meeting, representatives from Maasai, Barbaig, Datoga and Hadzabe communities in Arusha, Manyara and Singida regions informed Prince Charles of the challenges they face in defending their land and the drought caused by climate change which has intensified poverty.
"Unfortunately, it's the women and children who suffer most as a result of land grabbing," Rahel Haraja from Hanang district told the royal couple. TAPHGO Chairman, Israel Ole Karyongi, informed Prince Charles that drought has taken a major toll in the area occupied by pastoralists which has led to thousands of heads of cattle dying while women walk for up to 20 kilometers in search of water.
One of TAPHGO's project supported by the Department for International Development (DFID) is a clean water project worth 41m/- at Mbuguni ward. DFID has been funding various development projects in the area including the Arushabased Emusoi Centre which educates girls from pastoralist communities.