FRW news in brief

    | October 21, 2013

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    1- Tanzania allows Maasai herders to stay in disputed wildlife corridor

    The Tanzanian government has abandoned plans to prevent Maasai pastoralists from grazing their cattle in northern Loliondo ward. The disputed land had been set aside for a conservation area.

    The Loliondo region has been in dispute since 1992, when the Tanzanian government decided to develop the tourism potential of the area. It was designated a “Game Controlled Area” and subsequently leased to a Dubai-based company which runs hunting safaris.

    Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda travelled to Loliondo to make the announcement, amid jubilation from thousands of herders who had gathered to hear him. He said, “I can now agree with the people that taking that land would affect their livelihoods and that is not in the best interests of the government.” He also noted that, “… the Maasai pastoralists who have inhabited the area since time immemorial are good conservationists themselves, thus can still take good care of the area.”

    Onesmo Olegurumwa is the national coordinator of the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition. He said in a statement, “We would like to urge local people in Loliondo to ensure that the government decision through the Prime Minister is put in writing for future reference.”

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    2- Illegal land sales driving rural vulnerability in Zimbabwe

    Drying pastureland in central Zimbabwe is not the only problem that small-scale farmers face. Villagers say that headmen and chiefs in the district are selling land for personal profit. This has reduced space to plant crops, particularly the green vegetables and tomatoes that provide extra income to local families.

    According to the IRIN news agency, one headman said the illegal sale of communal land has transformed his family’s life. He said: “I know that there are villagers who have been complaining to the chief … but I don’t care. I am benefiting from the powers that I was given as a headman.”

    But Ignatius Chombo, a local government minister, said that traditional leaders do not have the power to sell land to private individuals. He said, “It is illegal for them to sell it, so they risk being prosecuted. Those that buy the land are also doing it illegally.”

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    3- Concerns about pastoralist livelihoods as Kenya kicks off regional infrastructure project

    A huge transport infrastructure project is being planned to link Kenya’s coast, Juba in South Sudan, and Ethiopia by 2030. But questions are being raised about the potential impact on pastoralists.

    The 200-metre wide Lamu Port and Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor, or LAPPSET, is expected to eventually form part of an equatorial land bridge linking eastern and western Africa,  from Juba via Bangui in the Central African Republic to Douala, Cameroon.

    Many communities along the proposed route are worried about land grabs and disruptions to livelihoods when the project reaches them. According to Abdikadir Omar, the Member of Parliament for Balambala in east-central Kenya, there are potential adverse effects on pastoral livelihoods if migratory routes are blocked.

    Mr. Omar said, “There is a need to address [these] problems from a host community point of view, before a camel and a bulldozer are facing each other.”

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