Land use conflicts between pastoralists and farmers in Tanzania have existed for many years and the causes and effects of these conflicts have varied from one place to another.
Currently, media reports indicate that Morogoro region is becoming notorious with this problem.
About three days ago, media reported an incident in Kilombero District, Morogoro region whereby a person was injured in a conflict involving farmers and pastoralists, with authorities in the district stating that the incident occurred after a herd of cattle stormed crop fields.
However, experience shows that areas such as Kilosa and Kilombero districts in Morogoro Region, Kilindi and Handeni districts in Tanga region and Mbarali district in Mbeya Region are some of the places that have experienced land resource conflicts between farmers and pastoralists.
Cases of killings of people and livestock and the loss of properties due to these conflicts have been reported.
The Land Rights Research and Resources Institute (LARRRI/ HAKIARDHI) and the Pastoralists Indigenous Non-Governmental Organisations Forum (PINGO's FORUM), the Non-Governmental Organisations founded in 1994 have been conducting researches on land matters, including conflicts that have been occurring in various places in the country.
Fortunately enough, researchers have identified absence of land use planning, enforcement of laws governing protected areas, increased large scale agricultural investments, weak policy and institutional framework, corrupt leaders and skepticism toward pastoralism as viable livelihood option as some of the contributing causes of the longstanding conflict between these two groups of producers.
Though researchers listed the above factors as the contributing causes of conflicts between the two groups, lack of Land Use Plan (LUP) and corruption among local government authorities appear to be topping the list. Land us plan involves the allocation of land to different uses across a landscape in a way that balances economic, social and environmental values.
Despite the central government directing local government authorities, especially at village level to have land use plan in their areas, experience shows most village lack the arrangement or is not enforced if, at all is available. Through LUP a village can demarcate land for farming, pasture, water and protected area.
According to researchers, migration of pastoralists from one point to another has also been fueling land conflicts. However, under government arrangement, a person wishing to shift his herd of cattle from one to another must write a letter to the leadership of point B, clearing stating the number of cattle he plans to migrate with.
The leadership of Point B is then required to convene a Village Assembly where villagers are given an opportunity to deliberate on the request of the requesting person.
Very unfortunately all these procedures are not followed by all parties, causing unnecessary conflicts. In short, land conflicts between farmers and pastoralists can be reduced if the laid down rules and regulations are followed.
Efforts should also be made by relevant authorities to sensitize pastoralists on the need to do away with free range system in favour of zero grazing.