21 September 2015

Tanzania: Most Rural Women Ignorant of Land Matters - Study

Majority of women in rural areas are unaware of village land matters, a new study conducted jointly by Tanzania Women Lawyers' Association (TAWLA) and Lawyers' Environmental Action Team (LEAT) has revealed.

Dr Grace Kazoba, who is a team member of the study, said in Dar es Salaam over the weekend that the study discovered that only three out of ten women forming Focused Group Discussion (FGD) were aware of land issues.

"The aim of the study was to establish in practice the extent of community and women's participation in decision-making processes on land investment," she said, while presenting the report during a stakeholders' meeting.

Dr Kazoba pointed out that the case study was carried out in two villages of Kidugalo and Vilabwa in Kisarawe, Coast Region, last year, and that the study examined legal framework on land acquisition.

She said the decision to select two villages to conduct the study titled 'Promoting Gender Equitable and Participatory Community Decision Making Process on Land Investment,' was because the areas were acquired by a UK-based Sun Biofuels Limited to establish a jatropha farm.

"The company acquired about 8,000 hectares of land from eleven villages for the purpose of establishing a jatropha plantation," said Dr Kazoba.

She said the company became bankrupt two years after starting operations in Kisarawe and its shares were bought by a Mauritius-based company named 30 Degree East, whose operations are not yet clear to the villagers around the investment area.

TAWLA Chairperson, Ms Aisha Bade, said it was vital to develop a model on gender sensitive by-laws that community may adopt in order to assist village governments and villagers in ensuring equal gender participation in decision making processes on land allocation.

"Women and men should be involved in setting standards of the by-laws such as selecting appropriate times of the meetings, selecting an appropriate day that is practical for all," she said.

Ms Bade said the by-laws will help women and men have equal legal rights to participate in village decision-making and in holding village government positions, adding that the by-laws will promote gender sensitivity whenever making decisions in land management.

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