Tanzania: Maasai leader wins Goldman prize for helping protect tribal land, including from commercial investors
Author: John Vidal, in The Guardian (UK), Published on: 18 April 2016
"Tanzanian land rights victory earns Masaai leader Goldman prize'
The Tarangire national park in Tanzania is known for its vast concentrations of wildlife in the dry season, the spectacular annual migrations of its elephants, wildebeest and zebra, and its majestic old baobab trees. But few people who visit it realise that the 1,100 sq mile park was, until colonial times, widely used by pastoralists and hunter-gatherers, or that many of the new tourist lodges built around it are situated on ancestral lands “grabbed” by government or companies, without compensation, to stimulate money-spinning tourism.
For Maasai leader Edward Loure, the loss of his family land from what is now Tarangire park was a catalyst to get all ancestral land in the Tanzanian Rift Valley legally protected from land-hungry companies, tour operators and others. Working with the Ujamaa community resource team (UCRT) – one of the first tribal-led NGOs in Tanzania – more than 200,000 acres now has full protection; a further 800,000 acres will follow in the next year.
Loure, who has won a Goldman environmental prize for reconciling the competing needs of development and wildlife, identified an innovative legal mechanism that grants land rights to entire communities rather than to individuals, and was the first person to establish certificates of customary right of occupancy (CCROs). Giving communities legal title to land is, he says, the key to reducing human-wildlife conflicts and stimulating sustainable development in rural Tanzania. Without it, land is continually fought over and safari companies and multinationals have been able to take what they want. With legal title, the different needs of conservation and pastoralism can be met and indigenous people can coexist with conservation and settled communities, he says