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Topic : 15 years of implementation of Village Land Act Number 5 of 1999 – What lessons have we leant ?  
  15 years of implementation of Village Land Act # 5 of 1999 – What lessons have we leant?

For many years, Tanzania has recognized agriculture as the backbone of the economy employing about three quarters of the country’s labor force and about a quarter of national income. Similar to many other S ...Click here to read more

Comments From TAKNET Members
Eugenia Maeda  : Monday, May 25, 2015    
  Dear Members,

In absence of the Village Land Act (VLA), let me make the following general remarks with regards to questions 3,4, & 5 posed by Mr. Abdallah Hassan.

1. BalancesBetween Local Users of Village Vs Commercial Use (Large Scale Commercial Use) Tanzania is adequately, as of now, blessed to have vast area of arable land through incentives and provision of infrastructure in the inhibited areas,. The large-scale commercial farming, biofuel production and factories should be encouraged to move into such open/vast areas. Land is a static resource (not increasing) while the population is increasing exponentially. Planning should be on a longterm basis (50-100 years), taking into account future needs of the nation. Largescale commercial farming, etc, should leave the local people undisturbed and develop the designated areas for such activities. Plans should be adhered to by the supervisors. Allowing large commercial or industrial farms within the ambit of the villages is asking unnecessary conflict (war) between the various stakeholders.

2. Awareness of Tanzanians of the Provisions of VLAIf I can expose my ignorance as well, I am among many Tanzanians who know very little of our rights of various legislation that affect our lives. Most of us stopped reading after our formal education hence the prevalent unawareness of what our rights are. In as much as I agree with the contributor who suggested that the Ministry of Land should organize workshops/seminars to stimulate awareness among members of public, I would like to suggest that such workshops should be held at village level, allowing the local people who are the stakeholders to participate. The Village Land Act is for villages throughout the country. I cannot see the more than 400 villages being invited to the Ministry of Lands for such workshops.

3. The Availability of Requisite Capacity to Execute Activities Entrusted to Them by VLA We may not have adequate personnel to execute the activities of VLA. However, the law available personnel entrusted with the responsibility are not dedicated and serious to discharge their responsibilities entrusted to them. A problem has bedeviled the entire nation in various facts of our lives. We need to address the general problem of our mindset.


Peter Lwegasira  : Tuesday, February 17, 2015    
  Any government that morally and financially supports self made and governed cooperatives may improve the livelihood of village poor farmers. Any policy prescriptions that deny the role of these self made institutions at village levels is unlikely to improve the lives of village households  

Godfrey Eliseus Massay  : Tuesday, February 10, 2015    
  How do we balance between local uses of village against commercial uses? (Large Scale Commercial Farming, Biofuel production etc.?

How can this be balanced? and who is supposed to balance it? if you look at the policy directives and implementation on the ground you don't see the balance. While politicians and bureaucrats are luring investors to invest in large scale commercial farming, you don't see them investing in improving small-scale farming. What they are good at is amplifying the rhetoric that large scale investment in agriculture can improve small scale agriculture! How can a state rely on private sector to improve the condition of its poor farmers? since when did large scale investors developed love with small scale farmers? in the capitalist economy, it is maximum exploitation and maximum profit that matters. The relation between large and small scale farmers will always be that of exploitation which can never improve the livelihood of our poor farmers. The government must invest in improving land governance, farming infrastructure, and should avoid big corporate takeovers of farming and value chains. In the whole process, the government must take a lead role in protecting the interests of small scale farming against that of commercial farmers.


Danford Sango  : Saturday, January 31, 2015    

I have read with a lot of interest contributions made by colleagues. Much as Tanzania's land reform is hailed as being progressive and generous, many still think that there is a disconnect between the act (the paper) and implementation (on the ground). Slow pace of land use planning and titling is a clear demonstration of the disconnect. Rampant land conflicts between pastoralists and farmers is another evidence of the problem. In my view, i think that adequate funding should be set aside for land management. I am convinced that this is important if we really want to move into a middle income country. Ideally, land use planing is supposed to be a major agenda in Five Years Development Plans which aims at "unleashing Tanzania's (latent) growth potentials". In my view, resources for doing this should be available if we set our priorities right.



Godfrey Eliseus Massay  : Monday, January 26, 2015    
  Dear Members,

This is a rejoinder to my previous contribution.

Though the Village Land Act establishes some institutions responsible for governance and management of village land, the same Act limits their functions. For instance, the Village Council and the Village Assembly can only approve land allocation of up to 50 acres. The same authorities are bound by advice given by the Commissioner of Lands regarding allocations that exceed 50 acres. While some activists have questioned decentralization and devolution of powers as stipulated in the Village Land Act, the government has maintained the status quo because it favors the current political economy. Similarly, the Village Land Council is only allowed to do mediation of land cases. It is not allowed to make binding decisions. I have seen how effective the Village Land Councils are in some villages, but most of them have been operating out of the scope of their mandates. The central issue this is a toothless body which needs to be given powers to be effective.

If I may digress the issue of the lack of political will and seriousness of the government in implementing the Land Acts, I would like to bring to your attention the Strategic Implementation of Land Acts (SPILL) which ended a couple of years ago. SPILL had the budget of 300 billion Tanzanian Shillings. Interestingly, the government of Tanzania allocated only 3 billion. As the result, the project died the natural death. I am aware the next phase of SPILL is in the pipe under the Big Results Now. However, I don’t know how much funding allocation comes from the government!

I do not underrate the success stories around the implementations of the Village Land; all I am saying is that more need to be done to improve the law and to do away with systemic and implementation challenges. The spirit of the letters of the law requires participation and approval of the village assembly during land allocation process. However, the practices have not shown free, prior and informed consent given by the village assembly. Seeing that, consultation and approval of villagers during land allocation is “a hurdle to favorable investment environment in agriculture”, there was an attempt from the government to amend the Village Land Act. One of the pillars of Kilimo Kwanza Initiative made this clear!


Firmat Martin Banzi  : Saturday, January 24, 2015    
  Dear members

I think there is a lot of knowledge in terms of lessons, challenges, experiences, successes and setbacks accumulated in the course of implementation of the Village Land Act since its enactment. I think there is a need for the responsible Ministry to organize a stakeholder’s w/shop to share the knowledge and set a way forward.


Gideon Karuguru  : Saturday, January 24, 2015    
  Dear Members, allow to air my views in connection to this important discussion.

We're discussing a legislation that was enacted 16 years ago, and I think what is clear is that the whole thing has remained in papers and it is a clear failure. Look at the number of those who have managed to get their CCROs, very dismal and disgusting, the country (especially the mainland) has more than 150 district councils, and the total number of CCROs is almost equivalent to titles needed in only one district.

To me, although the Act was praised by FAO, it was and still remains a discriminatory one when it comes to practice. It is disgusting that a land area of 400 square meters in Dar and Arusha has extremely high value than 100 acres in a village, while the later is more productive and contributing to the country's economy more than that little piece in the two places.

What I mean is that we were supposed to have one Land Act (a good one if not fair), not this blah blah, which has left most of the people in this country in immense poverty.


Firmat Martin Banzi  : Friday, January 23, 2015    
  Dear Members,

Let me join this interesting discussion by adding a few comments on the low pace of implementation of the Village Land Act.

Implementation has been done by different actors using different approaches and consequently with differing lessons and experiences. On my little knowledge I feel that the approach, awareness and funding have bearing effect on the pace of implementation.

Section 49 of the Village Land Act No.4, 1999 provides for spot adjudication whenever a CCRO is applied for. Among the disadvantages of this approach include it takes much longer to achieve complete coverage of all titles within the jurisdiction, the cost of the whole operation to be passed directly to the beneficiaries and but more expensive in the end. This approach defeats the objective of ensuring secure land tenure of the Village communities. It benefits a few who can pay the cost leaving out the low income and vulnerable group such as extremely elders and orphans who may not be able to meet even the application cost. This also contributes to delayed implementation of the Act. The government should therefore fund and coordinate the adjudication and issuance of title deeds preferably using the systematic approach to enhance security of the land tenure to all.

Raising awareness of stakeholders at district level and Village level on the Land Act and its provisions on the issue of CCROs is an important step for the success of the work. Benefits of CCROs to Individual, village, district, and National, should be clearly explained. Some reports show that awareness of the Village Land Act in most districts which have not been reached by projects supporting issuance of CCROs is very low. Yet some reports indicate that where extensive awareness campaigns were conducted before the implementation of land titling the work was very successful. Thus, low awareness may also contribute to low pace in implementation of the Village Land Act. The government should provide education and adequate information to the rural communities and rural development stakeholders to increase their awareness on the land reforms and especially the Village Land Act No 5 of 1999.

Implementation of the Village Land Act is very expensive especially when it comes to titling. Financing in districts using normal budget is a bottleneck. The government therefore needs to define funding mechanisms from internal and external sources and coordinate the implementation of the Village Land Act.

Firmat Banzi


Godfrey Eliseus Massay  : Thursday, January 22, 2015    
  This is very interesting discussion though technical. I will address each question as highlighted by the moderator with time. In this post i will confine myself in the first question, that is to highlight some challenges and success of the Village Land Act- 1999. The Village Land Act is hailed by FAO, as one of the best laws governing land in the Sub-Saharan African. It is considered the best because it dis-centralized and devolved powers to the village organs. It establishes some institutions and strictly stipulates women representations in such institutions. Moreover, the Act provides equal rights to land to both men and women and prohibits any form to gender discrimination . The rights of vulnerable groups such as widow and pastoralists are equally protected by the Act. Furthermore the Act vests the village assembly as the final decision making body on the management and use of the village land. This is unique characteristic because it allows all villagers who reached majority age to make major decision pertaining to village land. Lastly, the Act make provisions that allow the village council to deal with foreign investors directly by giving them customary certificate of derivative rights of occupancy. However, the Act provides some conditions relating to the size of land and time frame for the lease. Generally these are some of the justification as to why the Village Land Act is the best law.

On the other hand the Act allow custom and tradition to govern land ownership and dispute resolutions. It also make all customs and traditions that are against principles of justice and gender equality as repugnant. Thought his is a good provision, it is challenged by practice. There are Codified customary laws of Tanzania and with increased freedom of movement in Tanzania it is hard to allow customs and traditions to be used. On the same note, most of customs and traditions are patriarchal and have not been so fair to women rights.

Land use planning and provision of certificate of customary rights of occupancy is stipulated in the Act. However the implementation of this has been marred by lack of political will, lack of funds and budget allocation, politics of sub-division of villages whenever general election is near, lack of experts at the district level , complex procedures and village boundary conflicts. Most of the land use planning and titling have not moved beyond pilot areas and donor funded projects. This is a serious systemic problem which goes to the philosophy of the enactment of the Village Land Act. The reform process was guided by neo-liberal policy which made land the commodity in the market. Whereas, the country, institutionally have not move or prepared to deal with challenges of the neo- liberal economy, land use planning was often done with the promises of improved income through use of title as collateral . That is why very few villagers (not more than 300,000) in Tanzania have CCROs and few of them hardly accessed loans from financial institution. One of the expert, during the 2014 Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty which was held in March in Washington DC said " Tanzanian Land Laws have failed because their formation was based on wrong philosophy". The implementation has so far been very slow and uneven.

(I AM NOT DONE WITH FIRST QUESTION )....To be continued ....


SHABANI MARIJANI  : Thursday, January 22, 2015    
  Dear Members

I think you have raised very critical and valid issues, we also need to find a way for outreach, as i see many Tanzanians have limited understanding of Land acts and available economical benefits which may came up from proper land use and management.



Abdallah Hassan  : Friday, December 19, 2014    
  Dear Taknet Members,

We welcome you all to the discussion on the Village Land act no 5 of 1999. The focus of this forum is to generate a broader understanding of the lessons leant during the last 15 years of implementation of village land act. Some of the key guiding questions include:-

(i) What successes and challenges has Tanzania gained over the past 15 years since VLA was enacted in 1999?

(ii) How can Tanzania speed up titling processes which has proved to be unacceptably slow?

(iii) How do we balance between local uses of village against commercial uses? (Large Scale Commercial Farming, Biofuel production etc.?

(iv) To what extent are Tanzanians aware of the provisions of Village Land Act? What strategies can Tanzania use to create awareness of VLA?

(v) Do villages have requisite capacity to execute activities entrusted to them by VLA?


Danford Sango  : Friday, December 19, 2014    
  Dear Hassan, many greetings.

The TAKNET discussion forum you have posted on land management in Tanzania is quite relevant. We all know about many problems that our country faces in relation to land management in both urban and rural areas. A clear evidence include the never ending land use conflicts between pastoralists and farmers. There are also many problems between smallholder farmers and large scale farmers. In other words, there is a looming problem of "land grabbing". The pace of land use planning and titling is also very slow. Despite all these, Tanzania's progressive land reforms is bring praised. In this regard, I do concur with you that it is useful for us as a nation to take stock of the experiences of land management in Tanzania since land policy (1995) and land acts (1999) were developed.

On a different note, I think that this is quite a technical discussion for majority of the people to participate without proper guidance. I would therefore suggest that someone should start by educating us/refreshing our minds with regard to the land reforms. for example, I would like to be enlightened on:-

(a) What were the key findings of Prof. Shivji's commission of inquiry of land matters in 1992?

(b) How did the government considered findings of Prof. Shivji's commission during the development of land policy of 1995?

(c) How did the land policy of 1995 informed land act LA (1999) and village land (VLA) act 1999?

(d) What are the major characteristic of VLA of 1999?

(e) The process of land use planning and titling have been very slow since 1999? what are the drawbacks? how do we address the challenges.

I will greatly appreciate if the moderator(s) can start by shedding some light on the above issues.

With best regards,



swalehe manture  : Thursday, December 18, 2014    
  There has always been inadequate access to land by multitudes directly dependent on land and natural resources for their reproduction in Africa (Moyo, 2003, Odgaard, 2010)). One of the fundamental principles of the National Land Policy is ensuring equal access to land by all Tanzanians. This means that, it is the objective of the policy to facilitate an equitable distribution of and access to land by all citizens. This principle is replicated in the Land Act No. 4 and Village Land Act No.5 of 1999. When it comes to access and control over land, early legislation (during colonialism) was biased against indigenous people while later legislation were biased against women.

This infringement of indigenous people’s land rights during colonialism was simply suppression while that against women, was a combination of economic, legal, social and cultural factors (Carpano, 2010). For example, Ujamaa Villages Act No. 21 of 1975, provided for allocation of land to the head of the household or family unit (who were usually men). As a result, women lacked independent access to land. It has been argued that married woman’s access to land in Africa is akin to that of a bonded labourer (Jacobs, 2002; Moyo, 2003). Women’s lack of access to land is pointed out by the policy under Paragraph 4.2.5. It says: “Under customary land law, women generally have inferior land rights relative to men, and their access to land is indirect and insecure.

Traditional provisions, which used to protect women’s land use rights, have been eroded. In allocating land village councils have been guided by custom and have continued to discriminate against women by allocating land to heads of household who are usually men”.

Apart from women, the Village Land Act No.5 of 1999 declares void all customs which denies lawful access to ownership, occupation or use of land to persons with disability and children. Improving access of disadvantaged groups to land, is a big step towards ensuring improved livelihood to citizens.


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