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Join the Debate Responsible Investments in Land: perspectives from Tanzania and globally
Responsible Investments in Land: perspectives from Tanzania and globally
4 June 2017 to 15 June 2017

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Apart from empowering citizens on various technical aspects including dielogues and negotiation  skills, undestanding of contractual terms and legal implications; they also help in brokering a space for expanded negotiations between investors, the state and communities

Can aslo help in making the state and investors accountable and ensure responsiveness and effectiveness

am not sure if there is a monitoring mechnism and specific indicators for tracking the extent at which community benefit and fulfiment of the investors obligations

CSOs has a role to leverage community-driven development investments with its partners (Dialogues and negotiations, CB on legal and contractual matters, Business-Analysis of profitable ventures vs risks); hence meaningful partnership; advocate with and for the poor. –widen the impact in terms of scope, space and sustainability. How can we create partnership between CSOs and the state as opposed to working on their own or in opposition?; CSOs can also provide access to the local level, bring in-depth on-the-ground knowledge, and build on trust they have already established with communities at the grassroots level for provision of technical guidance for rational decision prior engaging into partnership with investors. Communities and civil society are critical partners for achieving effective investments;

For instance, at the local level, dialogue mechanisms between CSOs and local authorities should be promoted, as they guarantee useful entry points for inclusivity and responsible land investments. In democratic systems CSOs can contribute to nurturing respect for the rule of law by monitoring effective implementation of laws and policies and they can initiate and support anti-corruption efforts.

CSOs can play a pivotal role in empowering community/citizens on technical aspects including negotiations and dialogues

Can also play the role of enhancing state capacity and ensure effectiveness, accountability and responsiveness on land administration

They can also play the role in brokering space for an expanded negotiations between communities, investors and the state 

Dear Discussants,

We wish to relay our appreciation for the wonderful discussion we had over the previous two weeks. It was a very fruitful conversation, with valuable contributions from varying geographies and sectors.  A good number of people provided their expertise and insights to ensure we attained to our intended goals for the dialogue.

Building from last week’s summary report, we would like to close the ‘debate’ by highlighting some additional key issues that emerged:

  • Regarding Village Land Use Planning (VLUP), there were inquiries into the feasibilities as well as liabilities of companies conducting village land use plans. We heard from our discussants that there are ongoing concerns about companies taking on this role, largely due to conflicts of interest. This is further complicated by the difficulties, as noted elsewhere in the conversation, for companies to fully grasp the complexities of land use, access, and ownership. Still, government seems to be endorsing this process, at least in some areas. Questions remain around how to ensure protection of local community interests and avoid biased processes, while not halting the process altogether.
  • An important point about transparency in the investment contractual process was raised. OpenLandContracts, developed by the Columbia Center for Sustainable Investment (CCSI), was highlighted as one effort to increase transparency through the establishment of an online repository of publicly available investor – state land contracts and associated documents. One of the challenges, though, is the extent to which governments willingly participate and make such contracts publicly available on a regular basis, or as a matter of law or policy, including the government of Tanzania.
  • Strengthening land investment policies and regulations, especially through the ongoing National Land Policy review process, is important to ensure responsible investments. A need to put legal guarantee for resettlement and rehabilitation assistance to reconstruct livelihoods of victims affected by compulsory acquisition and displacement, for example, is one necessary component. Adopting gender sensitive models and including relevant accountability mechanisms to facilitate gender equity is another necessary step.
  • Establishment and strengthening of platforms can enrich productive and healthy dialogues and improve transparency and accountability. In Tanzania, this includes the Women’s Rights and Leadership Forums (WRLF), the District Multi-Stakeholder Forums (DMF), the Tanzania Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (TEITI), farmer-pastoralist platforms, etc. Generally, decentralization of these kinds of platforms is encouraged to include grassroots experiences and voices. However, without good facilitation and restraint, these platforms can become a conduit for exacerbating struggles amongst members at the expense of constructive and productive dialogue and coordination.  
  • On the role of CSOs and media, discussants continued to emphasize their importance in the investment process. CSOs, especially, can provide important technical expertise and support to communities, offering information and tools to make them more equitable business partners. They can serve important brokering and monitoring roles. However, CSOs are advised to be especially thoughtful about their engagement strategies with stakeholders, as some levels or types of activism can have counter productive effects.
  • Importantly, having guides for investment that are context specific may be especially helpful to secure community interests, improve bargaining powers and enhance community participation.
  • Finally, it is important and valuable for all of us to take lessons from previous failed investments for necessary changes as we move, or ‘fail’ forward. In this regard, we very much appreciate the tenor of honesty throughout this discussion

These are just a few highlights among the many valuable insights that were provided on responsible investments in land, bringing to the fore some of the practical realities faced in the Tanzanian context. As the organizers, it has been our pleasure to have your participation in the debate over the past two weeks. Personally, we have learned a lot and take note of the advice and suggestions provided as we move forward in our own work. For everyone, we hope and expect that these conversations will continue, and that we will continue to learn from one another and find ways for constructive and collaborative solutions as we go forward.

Kind regards,

Godfrey and Lukasz

Dear Mary,

You have expressed concerns very well. I am sure the next iteration of the draft will be better refined to take stakeholders conserns.

This I am sure is not the way to go. If it works by chance in one village, that is fine, but for sure it will buckfire in another village and the concequences will be far reaching. Sorry but to put it in a blunt way,  if you ask an accused criminal to pay for his trial, just because the state has no resources, expect the worst from him if he fails the case. Or expect the judge will not be impartial

I agree with you Masalu although looking at it from a private sector point of view it is very difficult, particularly if looking to invest in a new country, to question the legitimacy and processes of a government when you want them to assist with your investment as per their role, whether you have strong guidance and systems in place for land rights or not. Then there is the challenge that devolved governments do not always implement the national government plans and policies due to lack of capacity or lack of will, further complicated by ministries or policies not always being aligned or complementary.

Equally, when an investor is trying to implement FPIC, it is extremely challenging to firstly identify the legitimate communities or community members and then to understand the nuances, culture and influences of the communities, understand their point of view and the challenges that they face to be able to develop transparent communication platforms for information sharing or accessible and functional grievance mechanisms. It is then difficult to ensure that people understand the information provided enough to enable them to make an informed decision and not be influenced by those with more capacity to understand or with their own specific agendas. I know that CSOs are present in many communities but historically CSOs have not really been in a position to or willing to take a neutral approach and help facilitate a transparent process, although I am pleased to see that this is changing and I have to say that in my view it is one of the most important and beneficial changes within the responsible investment arena.

So in short, even if a company has the best of intentions to invest responsibly and fully utilises the wealth of great tools and guidelines around to help them to address, implementation on the ground in challenging social and political environments is difficult and sometimes may discourage responsible investment – and this is an even bigger worry as the irresponsible investors will pick up the opportunities and not worry too much about the impacts! These are not excuses or reasons for not implementing good practices, they are the reality on the ground that communities, land practitioners, CSOs, private sector and government agencies have to address together.

and sometimes for-profit companies advance their interests through self-established or third party charities..

Dear Shadrack et al,...
I must congratulate the debate organizers for this initiative, it has been a moving discussion..reading from technical to more social approaches. I just wanted to add to what Godfrey, Shadrack and colleagues have pointed over the role of Companies/BINGO (Big International NGOs) in the land use planning process which seems to have taken a green light from the GoT. With regard to the matter, I also heard a story from insiders from the LUP commission that some companies or BINGOs are positive and ready to undertake the LUP process, but not throughout the ‘SIX stages’ some are interested to the fourth stage only(I-IV). It was again good to learn that the GoT’s position especially the LUP Commission is firm to inform the companies that they must complete all the stages.

Again, I am a bit surprised to hear this from Shadrack..What did you mean by " I am very happy with ongoing movement in land use planning over which the requirement for facilitating land use planning one should be a registered planner, this will ultimately allow only professions in that niche to work as per standards and regulation".
I hope we don't take LUP as box (Tick a box).


You have raised an incredibly important point, and I think it relates back to earlier discussions here about the nature of participation. Are project-affected peoples able to engage and participate in meaningful ways? Are they empowered to do so? If not, how can other parties involved (government, agribusiness, CSOs) work to give these communities a meaningful voice? The FPIC standard is key here, but we have to be sure that the free prior and informed consent is the result of true choice.

It is in the interest of the investors to consistently consult with affected communities in order to maintain social license to operate. I hope that the Landesa RIPL guidebooks will help to show all of the necessary stakeholders the importance of consistent and meaningful consultation, along with providing steps on how to make those engagements. 

Hi Lukasz!

Ensuring that the most 'vulnerable' are equaly involved and have stong voices, I think is the most hardest part throughout responsible land based investment due lack of clearity or understanding of the term it self by many policy makers and implimenting authorities. If you trace the existing troubles/conflicts over the land resources is because of this (Vulnerable=race, gender, age, culture/tradition, etc). 

My friend Prof. Lupala of Ardhi University argue that this can be done through what he call 'Nominal Groups' especially when it involve a minimal number of people. Again I see it as difficult when you have a kind of Village Assembly in case of LUP.


Hi Baha and Godfrey,

The idea of having a Multi-stakeholders forum on this is very important, but I think we have some bricks to start with here in Tanzania especially from the extractive sector point of view. We are members of EITI and therefore there is Tanzania Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (TEITI) and we have gone far to TEITI Act of 2015. In this case, therefore we have a Multistakeholder Group -(MSGs ) or (forum if want you to call it) with members from CSOs, Govt and Extractive Companies. While these MSGs are good, they are also playgrounds of 'different struggles' among the members. 

I would like to contribute few things on this debate from journalism point of view.

As food situation and energy prices across the globe remain volatile for some years now since early 2000’s, many developed countries are making their way to Africa and Tanzania in particular where there is plenty of land and water to explore new alternatives of addressing the situation.

At national level, the land grabbing is taking place by some few unscrupulous businessmen and unfaithful politicians and government officials leaving many farmers in the marginal lands with no or little land to produce and meet their demands.

In Tanzania, experience shows that many leaders consider the land acquisition for agriculture by foreign companies as a blessing to food security, where as Tanzanians especially farmers are increasingly becoming more skeptical due to the nature of the investments which in most cases leaves them landless and helpless.  

Villagers in coastal region, Arusha, Manyara, Rukwa, Katavi, Kigoma, Morogoro, Iringa, Ruvuma, Mbeya have been affected, with long lease of 99 years term.

Tanzania qualified for this big investment because it has the potential of producing about 4,010 and 1,726 million litres of ethanol and bio-diesel per year.

By 2008, around 20 foreign companies and other 5 were in joint ventures. Potential land for food production such as in Rufiji, Rukwa, Mbarali, Rufiji, Kisarawe, Wami was identified and/or allocated to bio-fuels companies. Since then, 4.5ml ha of land have been requested by bio-fuel investors out of which 641,179ha have already been allocated to investors, processes going on.

When these foreign investors come, they quickly grab top government officials and politicians with good plans but little is known for the locals on their investment nature.

As a result, towards the end of 1990’s, the government had changed many laws and policies to attract foreign investments. However, the softened laws and policies could not create an equitable balance between people’s interests’ vis-à-vis investors’ interests.

The land acquisition process and procedures excluded the public from decision making, unfair contacts, and inadequate compensation among others.

Low level of public awareness and lack of knowledge and education have continuously subjected locals into many problems such as unfair compensations, landless, and food insecurity.

The national leaders argue that the investment would improve among other things, agricultural production, add value to local products and markets and improve social services such as roads infrastructures, health facilities, and clean water supply and improve education.

Proponents of agro investments also state that through the investment the private sector would be involved to create a permanent solution to reduce abject poverty and empower communities. However, the reality on the ground leaves a lot to be desired.

When debating on land tenure, access, ownership and distribution or land grabbing the role of journalism cannot be underestimated.

EVEN with strong support of the general public, Tanzanians and farmers  in particular who are the most victims could not manage to wield a shield against foreign investors. In some areas where the general public celebrated the investors, they are now crying due to poverty and hunger, partly contributed by lack of fertile land which is now in the hands of big investors.

To rescue the situation, it was the media that played a very decisive role to create awareness and build capacity in terms of education for the general public and farmers in particular to demand their rights.  

I personally conducted investigative journalism on land issues particularly investigation on land grabbing in various parts in Tanzania such as US-AgriSol company limited controversial acquisition of land in the former Burundians refugee settlements of Katumba  and Mishamo in Mpanda district, in Katavi region, (formally part of Rukwa region) and the former Congolese refugee settlements in Lugufu, Kigoma region. (The article titled green revolution or green plunder is also posted on the Oakland institute in USA).

This investment failed completely as it could not see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Major concerns about this investment

 Iowa State University (ISU) which intended on partnering with the project to conduct the small-farmer training programme pulled out of the project and remained with an advisory role only.

The project did not take training for small scale farmers seriously

Concerned about demands in AgriSol Energy’s proposal to Tanzania requiring permission to cultivate GMOs and guaranteed access to export markets

The second case study

I also conducted an investigative journalism on biofuel investments in Kisarawe, Coastal region where Sunbiofuel acquired some 8,211 ha, but managed to cultivate only a quarter of the area. According to interviewed villagers, the Sunbiofuel started the process to acquire land in 2006 and promised that more than 5,000 villagers would be employed.

Initially, they had applied for 20,000ha but Kisarawe district authorities discovered this

was too big an area to lease to any investor, hence the decision to limit the area to only

8,210 ha. One of the conditions for land acquisition was that the investor should pay

compensation to the villagers as individuals and for each village, the amount should be Sh840 million

The villagers were asked whether they were involved in the whole process. They

replied that they learnt of the investor through the then Member of Parliament Athuman

Janguo, adding that later on Kisarawe district authorities followed the natter up with

wide campaign in support of the project. The villagers succumbed to the campaign and

surrendered their land in the hope that the investment would help bring an end to their

poverty and improve the living standard.


During the implementation of the project, the investor only managed to employ 750 people out of 5,000 initially promised. What is worse is that, within no time the company started retrenchments, and to date there is nothing at all.  The investor cited shortage of water and fusarium as reasons for the Massive layoffs.


On realizing that the investor would not fulfill his promises, the villagers convened a

meeting at Muhaga Village on October 11, last year (2011) and formed a task force

to make a follow-up of their demands. It was a tag of war as the follow-ups took almost two years. The villagers from eleven villages in Kisarawe district, vowed to staged demonstration against the investor for failure to pay compensations for their village land amounting to 549 million Tanzania shillings.

With the help of several publications from the Guardian newspaper although, they were compensated, although, they had lost their land which is the only capital for a poor farmer in many African countries

NB: We realized that many media houses in Tanzania are reactive rather than being pro-active on agriculture and land based investments. We journalists decided to form Tanzania agricultural Journalists’ Forum (TAJF) to report and create public awareness on these issues on daily basis.  

Some of my work


Gerald Kitabu

Senior reporter, The Guardian, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Chairman-Tanzania Agricultural Journalists’ Forum (TAJF)




It is crucial for any form of investment in land in Tanzania to avoid extractivist approaches to development. My contribution to the on-going debate concerns the potential impact of governance regimes in the European Union on the logic of investments, and its implications for land-use and tenure relations. The emerging bioeconomy in the Global North, an expansion of biomass-based products (such as biofuels) instead of counterparts produced from fossil alternatives, should not be confused with a process that can produce emancipatory pathways to development, nor as promoting sustainable approaches to agricultural modernization. In this context, the EU’s governance initiatives, such as biofuel certifications and “sustainability criteria”, involve mechanisms that mainly promote large-scale production and processing methods, and do not equate to equitable and socially responsible economic practices. The Tanzanian biofuel experience suggest that little faith can be put in transnational actors that act according to this logic, as certification bodies like Bonsucro sought to collaborate with the controversial EcoEnergy-project.

It is my position that civil society should focus on what long-term benefits can be brought to the rural population, and support agroecological principles of agriculture, and not be lured into the promises agroindustrial approaches in land investments. This position is partly based on my article together with colleague Sara Brogaard: Harnesk, D., & Brogaard, S. (2017). Social Dynamics of Renewable Energy—How the European Union’s Renewable Energy Directive Triggers Land Pressure in Tanzania. The Journal of Environment & Development, 26(2), 156-185.

I can suggest the following article by my dear colleagues Emma Li Johansson and Ellinor Isgren: Johansson, E., & Isgren, E. (2017). Local perceptions of land-use change: using participatory art to reveal direct and indirect socioenvironmental effects of land acquisitions in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania. Ecology and Society, 22(1). "

I would like to add some more examples of platforms to build on your contribution, Gemma. This is also adding to the list mentioned by Baha and Valentine above. District level-multistakeholder forum, as argued in this paper by Masalu, can help in improving transparency and accountability and in resolving some land disputes. Farmer-pastoralist platform, which i have written on recently,  is not only a democratic way of resolving land conflicts but a forum where stronger bargaining power is established to engage with investors in the tourism sector. 

Hi Tim, 

As per your request to Masalu,I would like to share one link that i know.


Thanks to the organizers for the idea to create this platform, it has been my pleasure to participate and indeed I have gained a lot from the contributions on various topics that have been covered. I think as CSOs we need to rethink our strategies and engagement with all stakeholders, i.e. government, private sector and the general public. This is in terms of how we package and deliver our messages, no body is disputing the significance of FDIs specifically in agriculture, we still need investments from outside but yes we need to make sure there are safeguards to ensure that the investment is in our best interest and not otherwise, a win-win? and secondly we should also focus on domestic investors/speculators! I think this explains best what we have on the ground, one of the contributors in this platform shared the experience of Agrisol, I lead the team and I understand the dynamics, I had opportunity to discuss face to face with the people behind the project, Godfrey may recall better as a note taker since mine was just questioning and trying my level best to understand the motive. I still recall one question to date, "Mr.Baha we are first and foremost Tanzanians and truly patriotic, whatever we want to do is in the best interest of the country and its people, can you please share with us a model and or show us practically where and how an investment in agriculture can be a win-win situation? the investor is happy the beneficiaries and communities around are also happy?it was not easy for me to explain to them.

We have learnt a lot and I think we should avoid experiments, if we are sincere the first priority should be on how we design the policy itself and the regulations that will come as a result of the policy process, poor design of the policy will end up with bad laws and at best another chaotic ten years until another review. I also think another option is to strengthen dialogue platforms, if it is through such processes as TALA-NES, Landesa/Land Portal etc they are very important and we need to decentralise the platform by having grassroots experiences and voice. Lastly to the organizers is it possible to get this edition as it is? hope another round will come and may be this time from us the practioners and will take into consideration the voices from the ground. Once again thanks very much, Aksanteni sana kwa kutuleta pamoja katika mjadala huu.

Thank you so much Baha. After the fact-finding mission on Agrisol, Baha wrote a piece titled "the politics of investment in large-scale agriculture ventures", capturing main takeaways.  Debates like these can be arranged by any organization in consulations with the Land Portal Foundation. I would encourage TALA-NES to co-host another debate in the near future. 

I wish to share the work undertaken by the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), the parliament of the East African Community, with the support of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), on responsible investment in agriculture. The parliament is currently in the process of adopting the “EAC Model Contract for Farmland Investments,” the first regional parliament in the world to adopt a model contract for farmland investments. They see in this contract, a legal instrument, which is based on global best practices and reflects regional priorities and policies.

There is also important recognition that investment contracts are only one of a number of tools that exist to govern investment projects. There are other stages in the investment process, which require proper sequencing, prioritizing of issues, and an understanding of the economic context. Indeed, a well-drafted contract will not remove all possibility of negative impacts, nor will it guarantee that investments are successful and benefit the host country. Other processes are critical too; in particular, prior screening of investors, meaningful engagement of communities, and ongoing monitoring and evaluation after the contract is signed.

The EAC Model Contract for Farmland Investments was motivated by the need to create a tool that is flexible enough to allow member State to adapt the provisions of the contract to their own legal systems, and local contexts.

The best guarantee to achieve positive benefits from foreign investment is a solid foundation of domestic laws that are properly enforced. But in many countries the necessary domestic laws may not be in place or may not be sufficiently detailed.

The starting point for the development of the EAC Model Contract for Farmland Investments was to assess and compare the existing legal frameworks in five of the six EAC member States and identify where one or all of the countries fall short of best international practice and standards. Over 450 laws and regulations were reviewed and a range of problems identified. South Sudan was not yet a member of EAC at the start of the project, but there are plans to integrate South Sudan at a future date.

The contract requires investors to certify that they have identified all legitimate land tenure rights holders–whether formally recorded or not–and that women are given equal status to men. Investors are also required to conduct a social impact assessment and engage in consultations with local stakeholders to develop a community agreement.

The contract increases the likelihood that projects will succeed by requiring a commercial feasibility study and business plan: both of which must be approved by the state.

It supports local business development with a clause that requires investors and their sub-contractors to give first preference to local goods and services. It helps to create jobs and improve skills by giving first preference to locals.

The contract protects the environment by requiring an independently-verified environmental impact assessment and a plan to avoid, minimize, mitigate, rehabilitate and offset impacts on: forest conservation; biological diversity; groundwater; and soil quality. It requires a plan to assess and mitigate the impacts of climate change on the project and to avoid or minimize green house gas emissions. Investors are also required to carefully managing the use and disposal of chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers, fuel and other hazards.

The parliament plans to adopt the contract in August 2017, at which time it will become publicly available.

In 2016 Pastoralists Programme (one of the programmes implemented by tanzania Natural Resources Forum(TNRF) in partnership with CARE Tanzania), commissioned a study to determine the trends in land resource conflicts, understand the drivers behind the structural, document proximate and immediate causes of conflict, map conflict dynamics between the different actors in the arena.  The study covered hot spot districts of Tanzania with field work that included primary information through Key Informant Interviews (KII) and Focus Group Discussion (FGDs) with over 200 stakeholders. The study found that Land based conflicts over use of natural resources has risen exponentially over the last ten years, causing death, injury and distress amongst Tanzania’s most vulnerable populations: the dispossessed pastoralists, subsistence farmers and women. The study noted that Land based conflict will continue to rise until the proximate and structural causes of land based conflicts is addressed.  Investors were found as one of structural causes of land use conflicts,  some investors have taken land without embracing the local host communities concerns. The study documented well that from 2005-2016 forcefully eviction for investments was leading conflict in the hot spot areas.

My point of concern is the way these conflicts are handled, does not provide mediation among the parties(investors and local communities).  Currently, most of conflicting parties between communities and investors using land tribunals especially from district land and housing tribunal through and high courts.  There is high need of establish land use conflicts redress mechanism at lower level where local communities  and investors meet together and make resolution before moving to court process. The village land tribunal proved a success in making redress mechanism when land use conflicts arised among individuals. These mechanism are not available at Tanzania investment Centre(TIC). Last year TIC was on the process of reviewing Investment Act 1997, which are still pending waiting Land Policy review process. The Tanzania Investment Act should provide such formal body where investor/company  have inbuilt redress land use conflict mechanism that communities can access.

This is very interesting concept/idea Zakaria. I know institutuions such as the World Bank (Inspection Panel) and the IMF (CAO) have redress/grievance/complaint/recourse mechanism. They developed such a mechanism to protect communities that might be affected by projects they fund. Would you mind explaining how will companies/investors independently, fairly and without bias develop and implement such a mechanism? 

Godfrey, you asked valid Question,

This is a new idea that needs further research. I witnessed good practices that build my case. We have best practices in most of the pastoral villages. A good one is Minjingu in Babati district. Most investors camps surround Tarangire Nation Park established regular meetings with investors and other stakeholders where matters affect them are discussed openly. Once the land disputes arised they make consensus with villagers in their regular meeting between Conservation Authority, Investors and villagers, and were successful.

What we have now  in law, lead to most land use conflict between  investors and villagers took up to ten years in Court process, which is expensive, time consuming, and jeopardize investment processes, eg In Babati district, in Ayamango village, the investor collaborated with other people (44) and they made a case on 637 acres of grazing land, and they took to high court and villagers won the case in 2015 after 10 years! If such mechanism were in place, mediation and decision could be taken within less time. This is possible through having the kind of bodies with Tanzania Investment Act allows or formallize or require investor to have such inbuilt mechanism.  

While the connotation of company facilitated village land use planning and issuance of tenure rights in Tanzania sounds vague among many of us and we might not support it. However, on the ground such tendency is not a new thing again and has taken a new momentum in land tenure right, gaining support both from the government departments and the communities at National, District and Village level. From my vast experience of working in village land use in Tanzania, numbers of Village Land Use Plans have been prepared and are being prepared and CCROs issued through companies funding. Over recently, we have been working on 15 VLUP of Madaba, Njombe-Mji, Ludewa and Nyasa Districts under the auspices of `Pandamiti kibiashara` which is the private company in forest plantation. And this is just one of the examples, there are several of them. In fact the companies` interventions in terms of number village land use plans and issuance of CCROs is anticipated to increase in a very near future given the fact that government allocation is decreasing dramatically. By the way the company is planning to provide CCRO to majority. My point here is whether financial resources are channelled through companies or otherwise the interest of the communities over the resources in question solely depends on the existing guidelines and laws over which the process (I mean Village land Use Planning) is carried out. With the existing guideline for example among other things land suitability and availability is one of the requirement for designating an area for any use, and the large scale land investors are given surplus land. Actually even in land related conflicts point of view one will find that areas with large-scale investment with no land use plans have more conflicts than in areas without village land use plan, regardless on whether that land use plan was facilitated by company or Government.

To bring it together, we need to embrace the movement but impontantly, update our land related laws and regulations. I am very  happy with ongoing movement in land use planning over which the requirement for facilitating land use planning one should be a registered planner, this will ultimately allow only professions in that niche to work as per standards and regulation. One might argue about the number of villages versus land use planning profesions, that is a challenge which to me is easy to solve than the current situation where everybody can embark on the land use planning process if he/she wish.

Hi Godfrey,

thanks for your clarifications. Can you indicate where in the law it states that adverse possession does not apply if the land belongs to the government? (in the legal context of all land being 'public' land as we know)

On that note, how would you assess claims to land that used to be under NAFCO/NARCO ownership but became reoccupied by rural people after NAFCO/NARCO were dismanteld? Are these claims to land by smallholders justified under adverse possession?




Lukasz, I think this is a question of power relations and democracy. Unfortunately, a technical fix won't do


Finding success in real estate can be very challenging. A lot of people struggle to survive in this profession, but it doesn't have to be difficult if you're working this business in the right way.

When many people think about investing in Land, they think in terms of structure fixing or owning commercial or residential rental properties and most people overlook the idea of investing in vacant land. Though perhaps it’s not as “sexy” as owning a rental property, vacant land dealers have gigantic cash flow potential. But there are some aspects that encourage this kind investment  

When you finance the sale of your land, what you are doing is creating a stream of ongoing passive income similar to rental property, but without all the liabilities of being a landlord. But it works in the following perspective you buy the land for a good with low price. When it appreciates, you can sell it for more. By being the financer, you might even make back your initial investment and you will get profit.

It may seem strange that you, as the investor, would wear the hat of banker as well but it’s simpler than it seems. You won’t actually be lending the buyer any money; rather, you will be giving him permanent use of your land in exchange for money, which he/she will pay for the length of the loan which resulted to positive cash flow. In this scenario the customer becomes the new owner of the land and he/she will be responsible for property taxes, insurance and other maintenance.

I decided to contribute my view in this debate which is going on here because I am one of the stakeholder in real estate investment but I think we need to put more emphasis investing in area of agriculture. Why Agriculture because for Tanzania it is the engine for economic growth and Majority of them depend in this sector for their sustainability. The question to raise here is that, How to invest? For benefit of whom?  How he/she get area for investment? Is there any procedural aspect to get area for investment for citizen and non citizen? Why investment in land? Specifically in agriculture in Tanzanian Context?   

Below are some best practices from Tanzania, developed by Ujamaa Community Resource Team, that are worth adoption.

1.Women Rights and Leadership Forums (WRLF)

Ujamaa Community Resource Team has used the WRLFs platform as a way of increasing women’s voice at the grassroots level on matters concerning land rights since 2012. The results have exceeded expectations. For example, in Simanjiro district, where the expansion of a game reserve was being pushed towards the village land and family homes were being burned down, the WRLFs platform mobilized other women to resist. They felt compelled to react due to the negative impact it would bring. The community living within that land would lose a significant portion of the land they depended on for their livelihoods. As a result of women’s protest, the community retained access to the land.

This success and many other successes are attributed to the WRLF approach, which is:

  • Election of 24 women representatives by the village women general assembly
  • The 24 women are selected in equal representation from existing sub-villages within a particular village. Which means these representatives come from all corners of the respective villages.
  • The 24 women selected, existing traditional leaders within target villages, the village chairs and village executive officers become our target group to build capacity in various areas particularly land rights.
  • We first build the capacity of women themselves to have enough courage to engage in ongoing issues within their areas and beyond
  • When women are ready, we bring in traditional leaders and village leaders and further build their capacity as a joint group.
  • These groups further have the role of building the capacity of the wider community.

This model/ approach has created a grassroots social movement that responds to issues among others; land grabbing, active participation to engagement in issues such as large scale land based investment and other issues affecting women’s livelihoods.


2.Shared Certificate of Customary Right of Occupancy (CCROs) among the hunter gatherer and pastoralist groups as a form of security of land tenure.

For marginalized groups such as pastoralists and hunter gatherers, who still maintain their land as communally owned, large scale land based investment is a particular threat to them.

Securing their communal use of land and ownership reduces the vulnerability these communities face.

Thus through communal CCROs, communities’ lands are secured, hence livelihoods are protected. Having security in place does not prevent large scale land based investment from taking place. However, they are able to choose investments that go in harmony with their own practices for example conserved forests are increasingly attractive to carbon trading.





Thank you Mary for your thoughts.

You make a point that we have to talk about economic and other benefits to women and families and not just rights. I totally agree that we have to be practical and if women’s rights do not matter to policymakers for their own sake, we need to make different arguments.  And there’s evidence that women’s land rights matter in many ways, as you point out.

My PhD study at the University of Groningen Faculty of Law focuses on the legal frameworks that apply when land is compulsorily acquired to serve a public purpose, including compulsory acquisitions for land investments. The study covers 50 countries across Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Thus my contribution to this online discussion focuses on cases where Tanzanian landholders are displaced from their land after such land is compulsorily acquired by the government for investment purposes. The legal research I've conducted thus far has several important implications for land investments in Tanzania. In Tanzania, the term “public purpose” is not defined by law; the President has broad discretion to establish a public purpose justification for the compulsory acquisition of land. Presumably, land can be expropriated for land investment, which is often considered to serve the broad purpose of “economic development”. However, the government is legally obligated to provide compensation for expropriated land.

According to my recent Land Journal article, the compensation procedures established by Tanzania laws  adopt several international standards on compensation valuation. For instance, the law requires the government to adopt alternative approaches to the “fair market value” approach to calculating land compensation in areas where land markets are weak or non-existent (sec. 10, Village Land Regulations). Furthermore, the law requires assessors to account for economic activities, improvements made on the land, and communal assets; and, alternative land may be granted as a compensation option in lieu of monetary compensation (See VGGT infographic on Tanzania country portfolio). Importantly, the law also provides compensation for expropriated land regardless of whether a customary right of occupancy is formally registered or not (Sec. 8, Village Land Regulations).

What is problematic for landholders in Tanzania, and many other developing countries (see VGGT dataset), is the fact that the government has not enacted a legally binding law or regulation that ensures these landholders are guaranteed the resettlement and rehabilitation assistance necessary to reconstruct their livelihoods subsequent to compulsory acquisition and displacement. Without a legally binding resettlement and rehabilitation procedure that provides legal rights to the displaced, displaced populations are unable to hold governments and private actors accountable by seeking redress in court after they are forcibly evicted. Furthermore, the government is not legally obligated to minimize or avoid involuntary resettlement. Failure to provide displaced populations with adequate legal protection puts these populations at serious risk of impoverishment, landlessness, and other socioeconomic risks.

With respect to compensation valuation, since the law on the books is relatively strong compared to other countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, legal and policy reforms should focus more on ensuring effective implementation on the part of the government and private investors. There should be mechanisms in place, including judicial oversight and other accountability mechanisms, to ensure the government and private actors respect and enforce provisions that grant the right to fair compensation for landholders affected by land investments. While section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1967 provides affected landholders with the legal right to negotiate compensation amounts, the government should ensure that, in practice, affected landholders are adequately informed and given the opportunity to effectively negotiate compensation amounts. The World Bank’s LGAF research in Tanzania suggested that in some cases compensation decisions were made behind closed doors. Negotiation procedures should be fair and transparenct, and ensure that compensation is agreed on and paid in a timely manner. When land is compulsorily acquired for land investors, investors should be required to pay compensation that comes in the form of suitable alternative land, profit sharing, and/or sufficient money to purchase alternative land, housing, and other basic amenities. Compulsory acquistion should only occur as a last resort and should not result in landholders ending up worse-off than before their land was taken.


Hello Adam

I am of an opinion that even if the village land use planning process is sponsored by the investor the issue is whether the procedures are followed or not.

Many thanks, Godfrey, for highlighting, which as you note is a global online repository of publicly available investor-state land contracts and associated documents. Given the nature of Tanzanian land laws and policies, while several types of documents may fall within the scope of the agreements and associated documents we make available on the repository, derivative titles likely come closest to what we would ordinarily refer to as “investor-state” contracts for land-based investments. Our understanding is that these agreements have yet to be made publicly available on a regular basis, or as a matter of law or policy, in Tanzania.

Through, we hope to demonstrate that proactive disclosure of these agreements is both feasible and valuable for all stakeholders. The platform allows CCSI and relevant partners, including host country governments, to establish country-specific sites for contract disclosure, providing an efficient solution for public disclosure of these agreements. Summaries (or “annotations”) of key social, environmental, fiscal, and operational provisions can also be added to each contract, facilitating greater understanding of the implications of contractual provisions (these summaries are added to all contracts currently available on the global site). Establishing a country-specific repository in Tanzania would make agreements and associated documents concerning land-based investments more accessible and understandable, in turn potentially helping to: support monitoring of compliance with obligations contained in these documents; provide access to information necessary to assess the costs and benefits of these projects; inform the negotiation of improved terms; and improve the stability of the investment climate by reducing tensions typically associated with opaque processes. Moreover, in Tanzania, as in many countries targeted for land-based investment, several agencies are involved in the governance and negotiation of these projects: making land contracts accessible through a centralized repository can improve information sharing and, ideally, coordination among relevant agencies and departments.

While increasing transparency can improve the nature and outcomes of land-based investments, transparency alone is not sufficient to guarantee equitable access to information, effective participation of stakeholders in decision-making around land-based investments, and accountability for decisions made and any potential or actual harms caused. Masalu Luhula and several other dialogue contributors have noted that legal and practical challenges can undermine informed and meaningful participation by affected communities in decisions concerning lands upon which they depend. At CCSI, we are exploring options for addressing the legal and technical support gaps faced by individuals and communities affected by land-based investments. In this context, we are working with Namati to develop targeted guidance for communities and their advisors on whether and how to negotiate with investors. Related to this work, we recently published a Directory of Community Guidance on Agreements Relating to Agriculture or Forestry Investments, and a draft paper on benefit-sharing arrangements tied to agricultural investments, which will soon be finalized and re-published. We have also recently explored how best to include community consultation and FPIC into negotiation processes between investors and governments, and have begun work on assessing and addressing barriers that affected communities face in obtaining access to justice, including barriers created or exacerbated by the relatively greater access to justice that is often available to foreign investors through, for example, investor-state dispute settlement.

Lastly, with respect to defining “participation” and stakeholder obligations that arise in the context of land-based investments, international and regional human rights law can help to inform and shape understanding of standards contained in voluntary guidance applicable to land-based investment, including the VGGTs, CFS Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems, LPI’s Guiding Principles on LSLBI in Africa, and other region/stakeholder-specific guidance. Advocacy efforts seeking implementation of non-binding standards can also be strengthened by drawing closer links between existing obligations under human rights law and best practices contained in voluntary guidance.


Hi Jevgeniy, 

In law, one may acquire the right to occupy a piece of land by way of the common law doctrine of adverse possession. This doctrine operates within the four walls of the law of limitation. We can better understand the doctrine of adverse possession only if we are acquainted with the basic tenets of the law of limitation[1].  As far as land law is concerned, the law of limitation imposes a duty to any person who claims to have been interfered with in the occupation or use of land to bring an action to recover the land within 12 years[2]. If the action is not brought within this statutory period, the law of limitation then permits a wrongful possessor of land to have a good title to it as against the true owner and the public at large. When a person acquires the right to occupy land in this way, then we say that he acquired it by operation of the doctrine of adverse possession and he may proceed to register it according to law[3].

It is important to state, that in Tanzania, no person can claim adverse possession in relation to the government’s land[4]. The two case of Jayantilal P. Rajan v. City Council of Dar es Salaam[5] and Pravinnchandra Mohanlal Mevada and Two Others v. Muhimbili Medical Centre and Another[6] support this observation.


[1] See the Law of Limitation Act (Cap 89) and the Magistrate Courts (Limitation of Proceedings under Customary Law) Rules of 1963.

[2] See item 22 of the First Schedule of the Law of Limitation Act and item number 6 of the Schedule of the Customary Law (Limitation of Actions) Rules.

[3] Section 16 of Land Registration Act (Cap 334).

[4] See section 38(a) of the Law of Limitation Act (Cap 89).

[5] [1983] TLR 385 (HC)

[6] Court of Appeal of Tanzania at Dar es Salaam. Civil Appeal No. 106 of 2001 (Unreported).

Hi Jevgeniy, 

I am of the opinion that rural people successfully reoccupied the land that was under NAFCO/NARCO by making their claims on it. One, they were former owners of the land and that the Govenment failed to develop the land. Two, that their population have increased and that they need the land to sustain their livelihood. Three, that there is no any other alternative land available for their use. With a good cause, the President and the Commissioner of Lands can always revert back the land to the communities. 

Land-based responsible investors are expected to bring positive change to local communities – Rural Women and Men lives. It is always a BIG dream sometimes sugar coated with investors and to a certain extent some of Government representatives only talks about generalized forms of profits from proposed investment as an incentive for winning smooth acceptance from rural women and men.

The trust vested to Government representatives, investors and other key players many times gives room for Investors to access and enjoy larger share of the pre-investment consultation meetings. It should be also noted that at this juncture some of political elected or nominated leaders grabs this process as part of evidencing fulfillment of pledges made during election campaigns and or adherence to a particular party ideology of bringing change to rural women and men.

Based on majority of rural women and men level of knowledge, understanding, negotiation skills related to responsible Land investment key issues related to rights, roles, responsibilities and expectation of rural women and men are sometimes trapped into scenarios of endorsing whatever is being promised for limited knowledge, fear of embarrassing its government representatives, investors and other key interested stakeholders. 

In Tanzania the best known avenue for investors to meet with rural women and men is mainly through General Village Assembly Meeting in which both women and men enjoys the same rights of expressing their opinions, views and concerns BUT the best available and known practice women are always not fully engaged for a number of reasons from fear of speaking in public, deep rooted patriarchal systems which denies women’s meaningful engagement during responsible land investment meeting. I do appreciate and recognize the presence of some few strong vocal local women who many times stand firm to demand for inclusion of women priorities but not all rural places are blessed with those strong powerful women, therefore the best practicable solution is to create in place a system which will not only allow shy women but also even those who are bound by religious beliefs.

Notably, both rural women and men who are allowed and or expected to speak during General Village Assembly Meetings many times ends up not presenting all of their concerns, needs and impacts of newly proposed responsible land based investment which will ultimately either change or affect their daily lives. No wonder, after some land investment starts its operation we usually see, hear or evidence some situations of new emerging complaints, unmet needs or over ambitious plans all leveled against the Investor.

 There is a need for establishing well organized systems/process which is very predictable for addressing and accommodating Women’s needs, concerns, priorities and expectations as part of pre-planned Investment consultation meetings. This will not only provide an avenue for Women’s issues to be addressed in advance but also to be picked as part of the land Investment consultation meeting agendas for discussions and deliberations.

This is an opportunity for a nonpartisan party like CSOs, NGOs, FBOs providing services in that particular village and or in collaboration with other experienced local NGOs or INGOs to play a key role of awareness creation to community members from all walks of life on issues relating to responsible land investment by addressing local needs of rural women, men, youth, children as well as elderly and people challenged with different forms of disabilities.

For local Tanzania CSOs, NGOs and FBOs could also play intermediary roles in terms of facilitating rural women and men general understanding of the proposed land-based investment its pros and cons, create demand for protection of rights of rural women and men, advocate for promotion of win to win arrangements between Investors and local community, demand for opportunities of establishing partnership, capacity building of rural farmers/Cooperative Unions, Out growers and individual farmers, consideration of employability of residents(rural women and men) in some positions which doesn’t need technical skills, professionalism, strengthen presence of gender lens by insisting on equality between women and men in all leadership and decision making positions, sensitize men to allow both couples to be registered for Land based investment compensation payments,  another important role of CSOs could be more or less like self-engaged peace seeker by adopting best ways of addressing unmet promises/pledge’s made by Investors also harmonization of any  minor social issues between Investors and rural women as well as men.  

Thanks Renee for pointing some critical questions for our reflection. I would like to contribute here while also building on contributions made by Paine, Beatha and Mkama. 

After realizing that rural women do not actively participate in the decision making processes around land-based investment, LEAT, TAWLA and WRI developed a model gender-sensitive village bylaws. The bylaws were developed in collaboration with village leaders, women groups, and district officials in Kisarawe District. These bylaws put in-place a requirement for women to participant, air their views, and have their views considered by the village government. So far, they have been piloted and adopted in four villages in Kisarawe. Efforts are underway to have then adopted at the national level.

Last year, IIED documented them in their case study report which can be accessed here. I hope, these bylaws, like others that are currently developed by Landesa in Tanzania, are more context specific and can help to secure women’s rights and improve their bargaining power in the decision making process in LSLBI. 

I think of responsible investments in land as those that are socially acceptable and sustainable and can lead to a reasonable risk-adjusted return for the investor. From a societal perspective, private sector investments have the potential to benefit local communities by providing employment and giving small-scale farmers greater access to capital, technology, knowledge and markets. They can also deliver macroeconomic benefits such as increased economic growth and agricultural production. However, the results so far are decidedly mixed. All too often, the promised benefits have failed to materialize and investment projects have caused actual harm to local communities. There are many examples of local people losing their rights and access to their land and other natural resources, of violent conflicts, of environmental damage and of failed investments.

Being a responsible investor means going beyond traditional corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices like building a school or medical facility. Truly responsible investments do far more; they seek not only to avoid negative social and environmental impacts but also to create mutually beneficial economic relationships with the affected communities. They respect local tenure rights, food security and the environment.

It is fair to say that some progress has been made in increasing the prevalence of responsible investments in land. In particular, international companies and investment firms are certainly more aware of the issue than they were several years ago. Principles and guidelines—such as the Voluntary Guidelines (VGGT), Principals for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems and others—have been widely disseminated to the key actors in this space. In addition, several useful guidance documents and tools are now available. Examples include USAID’s “Operational Guidelines for Responsible Land-Based Investment”[1]; FAO’s technical guide entitled “Responsible Governance of Tenure: A Technical Guide for Investors”[2]; and the “Analytical Framework for Land-Based Investments in Africa”[3] commissioned by the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, to name just a few. Pilot projects sponsored by DFID and USAID are helping private sector actors to operationalize these guidelines and tools to minimize their land tenure-related risk and realize better outcomes for affected communities.

Host governments are also more aware of the importance of responsible investments in land in their countries. Having endorsed the VGGT, they are building capacity to attract, facilitate and monitor investments so that they benefit their people. FAO has several e-learning programs and technical guides associated with the VGGT that are helping governments to build capacity.[4]

But there remains much to be done. Efforts to improve land and investment-related governance in host countries have really only begun. There is still a significant gap in the ability and willingness of many governments in the global south to oversee these investments in a way that prohibits irresponsible investments-those that exploit and otherwise harm affected communities.

And, while a small number of companies are making serious efforts to invest responsibly, there are many others—especially domestic companies and elites—who are either unaware of the issue or simply unwilling to invest in a way that respects the rights and livelihoods of local communities.

For several years, international NGOs, donor governments and others have worked to help affected communities, including indigenous peoples, to better understand the risks and potential benefits of investment on or near their land. Some progress has been made. But, for the most part local communities still lack the capacity to represent themselves in negotiating with governments or investors and usually lack access to civil society organizations, lawyers or others who could act on their behalf. This remains an enormous gap.

Regarding gender, there is increasing awareness among civil society organizations, governments and investors that responsible investments in land should respect and possibly strengthen tenure rights held by women. But I am not aware of many cases where this awareness has translated into action. In much of the developing world, women’s ability to own, control, and access land is significantly constrained. They tend to hold far less agricultural land than men and their tenure rights are substantially less secure. Women also find it more difficult to have a voice in land-related decision-making. I hope others participating in this discussion can provide positive examples of investments that respect and possibly even strengthen the tenure rights of women.

Three inter-connected areas in which private sector practice can improve that can bring about more equitable and socially responsible land investments are: 

i) due diligence procedures, including the assessment of land related risks, and for existing investments and extended supply chains as well as new investments that involve land acquisitions.

ii) community engagement and consultation processes, directly engaging women and all sections of the community and including the need to obtain Free Prior and Informed Consent as part of broader and more sustained engagement to obtain (or retain) social licence to operate;

iii) disclosure and transparency of investment and business plans with governments, affected communities and other stakeholders, including plans and actions to address land related issues, conflicts and risks


Progress is being made, largely at the level of principles and commitments by more enlightened companies in context of broader efforts to address sustainability and human rights, strengthened international guidance, in response to global advocacy by civil society.   There is much that civil society can do to help companies improve practice in these key areas and a number of donor agencies are now promoting partnerships between CSOs and private sector companies on the ground, (for instance through the LEGEND Challenge Fund) to pilot new approaches and tools that the private sector can take up and to enlarge the “precompetitive space for dialogue” notably through the Interlaken Group initiative.

On the other hand, the scope to bring about broader changes in private sector practice through efforts of individual companies and site specific pilots is limited, given that many companies, including most domestic and south-south investors and businesses controlled by national elites fall outside the network of these initiatives, the skills capacities and resources in civil society remain limited remain limited and the legal framework and business environment within which agribusiness companies and investors operate at the country level is often not favourable. Therefore the voluntary efforts of progressive companies and NGOs need to be complemented by attention to the policy and institutional framework, and coherence and relevance of government and supporting donors’ programmes on land, agriculture, investment and development planning generally are important parts of the equation to bring about broader change.

With reference to Tanzania,  I would like to focus on some of the gaps between internationally accepted principles and practice, and the roles that civil society can play in helping to insure that land investment takes place responsibly, enhances rather than undermining land based livelihoods and contributes to inclusive, broad -based economic development.

A critical gap is that between policies and institutions responsible for land and those responsible for agricultural development and the management of inward investments. This is reflected in a parallel gap in donor programming between conventional land sector programmes focuses on land registration and titling (or LTR) and technical and policy support to land administration, and programmes to assist investment, private sector development and supporting infrastructure and services in the agricultural sector, for instance programmes that support SAGCOT and AgDevCo as investment vehicles. I would like to suggest three areas where more coherent goernmetn and donor programming could make a real difference:

i) Better coordinated planning and delivery of land and investment programmes:  Land Tenure Registration – or “regularisation” (LTR) programmes need to become more responsive to the often conflict prone land investment contexts and better articulated with the planning and development of agricultural and other investments programmes.  The regions and specific locations targeted for mass delivery of titles (or in the case of Tanzania, CCROs) need to be better prioritised to better reflect real demand for and utility of individual plot or household level Demand is likely to be greater in cases where agribusiness investments are established and underway, villages that are active in supplying agricultural value chains and areas subject to urbanisation and increasing competition for land. 

A stronger focus on participatory planning: private sector investments – for instance Illovo Sugar’s Kilombero sugar estates – have huge economic footprints which stimulate in-migration of labour, population growth, urbanisation and  development of service industries straining existing social and economic infrastructure – in this case in a context of increasing overall land scarcity due to the presence of large conservation areas within which existing investments, infrastructure, urban settlements and farming communities are squeezed. Additional large scale investments are taking place within the same landscape and Illovo is considering further expansion of its outgrower scheme. In this context there is a case for land programmes to place greater emphasis on planning than on mass land registration per se, and to work in closer coordination with companies present and with urban and agricultural planners. Land programmes can potentially add greater value through village level land use planning and capacity building, including:  definition of definition of village boundaries;  participatory and zoning of areas for urban settlement, where individual land registration may be needed, or where existing customary management practices can prove adequate and where land is available for investment; securing collective rights to grazing land or community forests through group CCROs; and supporting local mechanisms for adjudicating and managing land disputes and conflicts.   

Resourcing civil society capacity to act at scale:    There is a clear role for CSOs to collaborate as partners in forging real links and collaboration between government, businesses and communities, by acting as trusted independent intermediaries. Capacity is presently limited; CSOs need to combine legal, technical and practical skills in land, agricultural development, rural livelihoods, communications and community engagement; and knowledge practical experience and tools need to be developed, as public goods, that all can draw on, requiring practical links between local, national and global sources of expertise. To avoid restriction to islands of good practice, and risks of compromise and loss of independence due to reliance on commercial contracts public funding is needed to build relevant capacity and tools and direct private companies towards relevant sources of assistance to carry out better due diligence, field assessments, and community consultations, and develop new practices and procedures.   Although Public-Private partnerships are very much in vogue to promote agribusiness development, CSOs are potentially key players, but in the field of land governance PPPs remain in their infancy. But given the interest of government, private sector donors and civil society in finding new solutions to ensure that increased agricultural investment is both sustainable and inclusive time is ripe to consider how to mobilise a public-private funding to enable civil society and research institutions to engage on the ground alongside local and regional governments and private companies at much greater scale. Three particular opportunities could be explored in Tanzania in which both local and global CSOS can play active roles both in the field and in crafting effective policy solutions and programme vehicles:

i) Development of a resource centre to strengthen civil society capacity and enable companies to access and apply relevant skills and tools

ii)  pre-competitive dialogue and collaborative action by private companies alongside government and civil society at a landscape scale, targeted at specific regions and  clusters of investors to help resolve the development planning issues; and

iii) engage private sector and CSO  service providers more fully in delivering land registration, land  administration services and land use planning services locally to address priorities at greater scale and with greater responsiveness to the land investment and ongoing land competition context.


Dr Adam / Mr. Baha, I understand why a company hesitate paying for VLUPs. But I have three points worth considering:

1) In my opinion, the current resistance against financing land use plans is no different than the argument companies used when they were pushing back on having to pay for environmental assessments. Like results from land use plans, findings from environmental assessments may not yield favorable results a company interested in starting an ag project. Regardless, environmental assessments are a cost of doing business for companies. Given this precedent, I think the costs of VLUPs could be moved over to companies.  

2) Companies interested in acquiring land are already paying for VLUPs. They are signing contracts with National Land Use Planning Commission who are carrying out VLUPs with the district authorities. So there is already a precedent to build from. Godfrey and I have been looking into this. Lots of interesting information.

3) If done correctly, I think VLUP would be a good starting point to address many of the problems that have already been discussed in this forum, particularly around getting communities more involved and engaged throughout the investment process. If you stop and think about it, the VLUP stage of the investment process would be a great place for the company to start building a social license to operate with the community. Developing trust and credibility early between the company and community could improve outcomes during the negotiation stage and potentially lead to a healthier project rollout. Plus, as you all know, VLUP is a good opportunity to education communities on their land rights, begin to consider, understand and address gender issues, resolve latent disputes, etc. So I bet by getting all this stuff figured out early – before an ag investment is operationalized – the company would reduce its land tenure risk in the long term.


We definitely need to noodle through the details. But I think we should be saying to companies that although paying for a VLUP will cost you some money upfront, you will save down the road.


Hello Lukasz 

It is in no doubt that men and women take part in economic activities but the latter is  limited or faced with restraints. Empowering men to see women as contributors to the economy rather than as something beside men and also sensitising women to break the shackles of exclusion in economic activities and make them understand that they are part of the economic development has helped to change the mindset of men around women involvement in economic activities. This approach is applied through our Land governance program where it targets men and women in villages (Land Rights Monitors-LRMs) who promote gender equality.

Drawing fromm LRMs feedback, it shows that men and women in rural areas do change in terms of behaviour and attitude which further entails that customs and traditions do change positively by giving opportunities to women to involve themselves in economic activities. Though the trend has not reached a level to say there is full gender equality but such a progress is worth sharing in areas where there is minimal women support so as to empower and influence men to allow women to fully engage in economic activities

 Further, due to existing gender inequalities, women have continued to be progressive and advance their economic and social struggles. The trend should  be recognised in the society especially policy makers and also be featured in CSOs program interventions to empower and influence men to to support women involvement in economic activities.  Further, mainstreaming national agenda, strategies, policies programs and projects aimed at gender equality and women advancement in the society is useful as it serves as an opportunity for both men and women to discuss and resolve existing gender inequalities and opening new ways of thinking and understanding that change  mindset of men 

 I have always used these influential words in most of my  community training and  women land rights dialogues that…. both men and women struggle to generate economic growth that can provide a better life for all and both should contribute instead of blocking women from contributing to their true potential.  So strategic /gender approach training coupled with reliable and concrete information on economic role of women is very useful as it is where foundation upon which change is built.

The experience on the work of LRMs that Beatha shared is a great and effective way of engaging men. This was also recently documented by IIED. I have argued elsewhere, that the work of LRMs and that of Women Leadership Forums is typical expamples of movement from below. 

In the context of a Learning Platform on Inclusive Business, Land Governance and Food Security (a joint project of LANDac, CIFOR, Shared Value Foundation and F&BKP), we have recently brought together a number of companies in Tanzania's Kilombero Valley to stimulate mutual learning as well as to create more synergies between different interventions (including those of civil society and government) and the local context. In this contribution we wanted to share some of our experiences from the platform.


Entry point of the platform discussions in the Kilombero Valley were realities at the local level: whereas we have seen quite an increase in multi-stakeholder dialogues around land-based investments worldwide, the platform's discussions were grounded in research findings from communities living around the investments. The research showed that people viewed employment creation and contributions to local development projects through company social funds as the most visible positive impacts of investments on local development. In relation to the still existing constraints on the relationship between companies and surrounding communities, insufficient communication and transparency, limited involvement of youth, and access to finances were mentioned as important. In regards to future aspirations for household and community development, community preferences very much linked to agriculture: expanding current production as well as diversifying the number of crops grown in order to become more resilient in terms of food security. in addition to challenges from the existence of the company. Communities also identified a number of challenges to their livelihoods that posed additional threads to achieving their aspirations; they prioritized climate change, poor governance, and low education. These additional challenges are a reality for companies to take into account when working with communities; either to be aware of how their activities might exacerbate existing challenges, or how they could offer options to ease impacts/challenges external but relevant to their own operations. The research also revealed different existing development priorities among community members, and different levels of involvement with the investment between men and women, different age groups and between recent migrants and natives.


The platform showed a number of lessons in the use of multi-stakeholder approaches to making investments more inclusive and sustainable. First, the exchange of experiences between companies in different value chains - and how such exchange can contribute to adaptive learning of different stakeholders. Even though business models are quite different, in terms of their organisation and potential to be inclusive, companies did face similar challenges and appreciated an open platform to learn from each other's experiences. It also showed the value of information coming straight from communities, and companies in particular appreciated the attendance of a number of individual community members, which led to increased understanding of local priorities - and how their business activities fit (or don't fit) in those existing local ideas of development. The platform members came up with a number of very concrete ideas for improving development impact of investments, and are currently working on activities to increase transparency, improve communication and strengthen community involvement in the business models. 

Emilinah Namaganda & Gemma Betsema

In 2016, tanzania Natural Resources Forum (TNRF), and Care Tanzania  has made remarkable documentation on how varirs actors can support land use planning(LUP)  in pastoral context.  Supporting Land Use Planning can be an important step towards managing local resources and reducing conflict. An increasing challenge for pastoralists is the ongoing loss of common grazing lands to external actors by both large scale investors and smallholder farmers. The available space for resources for pastoralists is therefore shrinking.


Pastoralist livelihood strategies have developed in variable and unpredictable ecological environments. Rainfall in arid and semi arid areas can fall over a wide area, and through mobility, pastoralist can maximise productivity and minimise loss through carefully planned movement and resource management. As a result, the development of village land use plans, while beneficial, may not be sufficient to secure the long term sustainability of pastoralist production strategies, as they simply cannot guarantee the availability of pasture and water from season to season.


Approaches that try to engage with this issue are more likely to provide sustainable solutions in the long run. In particular, planning over wider spatial scales allows customary land management approaches to function effectively, allowing traditional leaders to carefully manage land and ensure environmental sustainability. The challenge is to find ways to bring together informal and formal land management approaches to work harmoniously.


One approach, highlighted in the Kiteto Case study OLENGAPA , is to use the legal apparatus available for Joint Land Use Plans, managed by Pastoralist Associations. It allows traditional land use plans to function within the defined space of the Joint Village Land Use Plan. However, this approach (as with formal village land use planning in general) can be prohibitively expensive.


Hi Carol, thank you for raising a very important point. Thank you Dr. Adam for your input on the discussion.

I think what is tricky here is how much involvement of stakeholders is enought and the quality of those invovement. I agree there has been consultation with some stakeholders, however, my main concern is more on valuing the stakeholder's view that speaks on behalf of many instead of few individuals or groups.

For example on the issues of women's land rights which to me is  very important and  if done wrong its  impact affects more than 70% of the women especially those in rural areas and those depending on land as a means of livelihood. Unless there's a new draft  that we haven't seen, but the existing draft has consistently guranteed only access and nothing about decision making or ownwership . The ministry at least few that we had a discussion with think access has been  clearly defined and therefore covers all issues and gurantees women all the rights. My arguement is  simple, access is not ownership  and leaving it loose like that has major impact on women who contributes to this country's economy. Acess does not guarantee transfer, morgage, decision making, control, or any independence of women to natural resources. Acess keep women where they have been of depending on make figures to enjoy opportunities and resources.

Is it possible to have all stakeholder's views taken into consideration probbaly not, but it is important to take on board the most important issues raised by stakeholders. Land rights for women, land management and administration, large scale invetsment are some of the issues that needs a close look because their effects are paramount to rurall communities specifically  women.So I agree with the governemnt to expand its consultative process but more importantly to value those  consultation views and stress buttons on what is more important.

Hello Jevgeniy and  Jens! We greatly appreciate the contribution and look forward to reading the published research. In regards to point 8, do you have any thoughts on how the most vulnerable can become more involved and have a stronger voice at the ‘participatory stakeholder table’?

Dear all,

We appreciate the very constructive contributions we have received over the first week of the debate. As we enter into the second week of the debate, we wanted to provide a summary of some key takeaways thus far:

It has been observed that Tanzania is an agrarian state where smallholder farmers and pastoralists are dominant and depend on subsistence production. Also as a country, it has taken a number of initiatives, including Agriculture first, Big Results Now and the establishment of the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor to manifest its vision. However, due to the top-down nature of the decisions, there has been limited success.

Second, responsible land based investment finds its origin from efforts by the international community to address the impacts of land grabs in Africa and other parts of the world. An investment that is responsible must be inclusive, socially acceptable, sustainable, transparent and that which puts community members at the center throughout its lifecycle. To ensure responsible investments in Tanzania, specifically, the following must be observed:

  • There is a need to revamp cooperatives and farmers’ unions as alternative models for people-centered investment in land and the village council as a body corporate should have the mandate to sign investment contracts on behalf of villagers. Land should not necessarily be transferred to general land.
  • Establishing multi-stakeholder forums that encourage open dialogue is necessary to increase all stakeholders’ opportunities for inclusion in the process.
  • Civil society actors, as important stakeholders to responsible investments, should (a) continue the role of monitoring and sensitizing communities who face investment challenges, (b) provide pro bono legal aid, (c) find ways to coordinate their efforts and (d) remain independent and autonomous.
  • Despite legislation being gender progressive, there needs to be specific efforts for women’s inclusion in all processes. This includes integrating women’s issues and gender perspectives from the field, including how women use land. One of the discussants made an important point that it can be necessary to talk to activists available in the community since even women leaders may not articulate the roles women play within the household and make use of household land. Overall, gender mainstreaming across community programs should be emphasized.
  • Also there is a need to strengthen the existing investment laws and policies to accommodate international standards for responsible investment. The current National Land Policy Review process is one such opportunity.
  • The government should not take the central role in the process of land acquisition for investment as it makes it more difficult for the land-holder to be compensated fairly.
  • Village Land Use Plans is very important before investments take place. However, if not done properly, it can be a vehicle for land dispossession. There is a need for the process to be country-driven where civil society can assist in the preparation stages.
  • Finally, three areas where identified where investors/companies need to strongly improve their business practices: (1) due diligence procedures; (2) community engagement and consultation processes; and (3) disclosure and transparency of an investment.

Moreover, the existing best practices of companies’ commitments for compliance of international standards, such as those from Illovo Sugar, Coca-Cola and Nestle, can help to improve the public–private partnership model of operation and thus enhance the company’s social license to operate.

Finally, the discussion highlights that international guidelines and the development of operational guidebooks for community, government and investors can be used to push necessary legal reforms and can also bridge gaps between the global and local context. However, any such developments are constrained by national and local governance. For Tanzania, the National Land Policy Review will determine their fate.

We wish relay our thanks once again to everyone for your fruitful contributions and generosity that has made the discussion thus far engaging and productive. As a reminder, the debate will close on the 16th of June. We hope that you will continue to engage in the debate and look forward to the continued learning opportunity for us all.


Godfrey and Lukasz

Generally public and private investment come within a shortest time along with brokers, money and also government influences. The whole structure generally with the investors as they are contributing to the poverty reduction, helping to scale up the gross domestic production- GDP and employment. In some cases we found that government are encouraged investors to come and work to set up factories. We the land owners are really in trouble situation as we do not have any influence to the government as well as to investors. The situation is becoming more worst for the marginal people including women, widow, religious minority and indigenous, disable and elderly people. In fact, the problem lays with the awareness of the land owners in order to protect their title. it is notable that large number of land are not titled, ownership documentation is missing. The marginal land owners do not know about the proper documentation of land. Without keeping the documentation, they are using the land year after year.

We found that land investors engaged number of brokers in the society who has memory of land and also know about the each of the land history. They started to negotiate with public land officials in order to stop new documentation. The vulnerable land owners are poor and they do not have money to release documentation of ownership such as registration, tax receipts, mutation and deed. Then the land brokers come to vulnerable owners and ask to sell their land with small amount or without any amount. The amount of money similar like begging. Some land owners are borrowing money and giving to official for releasing the land documentation but that has not worked because private investors are paying more and more money to the process.

There is a big role of CSO in order to assess the ownership, conduct survey, deliver knowledge on documentation, assist to collect document, helping to claim compensation and develop transparent process. The whole process need to be tested with the support of CSO in between public officials and private investors. Otherwise, movement of people is the only way to protest such kind of investment.

Given the prevalence of failed projects, in Tanzania and elsewhere, there must be robust provisions in land administration for the restitution of land converted to general land back to villagers. As I (and many others) saw in Kisarawe, Sun Biofuels gained an 8,000-ha concession for jatropha on the basis of a broad set of promises for community investments and jobs. They planted 2,000 ha in jatropha, at which point the project's financing collapsed, one of the many failed jatropha projects. With the failure, though, the land did not revert to its original village owners, nor was the company required to restore the land to its original condition. Rather, a shuffling of Sun Biofuels' board of directors brought in a sub-lessor, Mtanga Foods. When I interviewed someone from Mtanga, she disavowed responsibility for any of Sun Biofuels' original commitments to the community - wells, roads, clinics, schools, etc. She basically said that as long as compensation was paid, Mtanga had no further obligations. Complaints about this led to a "due diligence" review by Mtanga's board, but the last I knew the board had renewed its commitment to establish a cattle operation in Kisarawe. Villagers had made it clear to me when I spoke to them two years ago that they did not want cattle, did not know cattle, they just wanted their land back, and in a condition in which it could be used. Again, last I knew 2,000 ha are still planted in useless jatropha.

This highlights two yawning gaps in land governance in Tanzania, which I've seen in several other African countries as well. First, projects fail. It is the curse of start-ups that the vast majority fail in their first year, so it should not be surprising that the same is true of large-scale land projects. So there must be a coherent policy to deal with such cases, and as Youjin Chung points out, they are perhaps more common than are the projects that actually enter into production. It is critical that villagers be protected from failed projects by giving them the first option on repossessing the land. Right now, the state has that first option, it unfailingly retains it as general land, and as in this case it allows the failed project-holder to seek a sub-lessee to take over the project. In the Kisarawe case, when I asked in the land ministry if that was a possibility, the attorney there said it was very unlikely, mainly because the government wants to get its hands on village land for general use.

Second, land governance must include provisions that enforce the terms of the original agreement in the case of a sub-lease arrangement. Mtanga Foods should have been forced to provide all the things Sun Biofuels had promised the villagers in Kisarawe - jobs, clinics, roads, etc. Those commitments, especially jobs but not only jobs, are the entire reasons the communities agreed to give up their land. Again, when I asked the land ministry if the community has any rights in such circumstances, the same attorney said no, only if those provisions were written into the contract with the Tanzanian government. Generally, such commitments to communities are not included. So either those commitments need to be put in writing and enforced at the national level, or the original commitments need to be recognized as part of the sub-leasing process. 

The combination of these two gaps in land governance make it seem as if the Tanzanian government is looking for investors who can help them convert village to general land then "flip" the land to another investor, with the community on the outside - of the process and of their former land - looking in. In Kisarawe, they were staring at fenced off land guarded by 50 people (the only jobs the project was providing), and 2,000 ha of it was still planted in useless and untended jatropha. Mtanga Foods may actually have started cattle production there by now, but the question remains whether the land should revert to the villagers and whether Mtanga should obligated to fulfill the commitments originally made by Sun Biofuels.

I will have a chapter on this case in my forthcoming book, Feeding Illusions: Agribusiness, Family Farmers, and the Future of Food. And I have written about it here:

Picking up the pieces from a failed land grab project in Tanzania, Timothy A. Wise, GlobalPost, June 27, 2014 

(I welcome updates on Mtanga's work and relationship with the villagers in Kisarawe.)

Hi Timothy,

You have put it very clear, and my views in reponse to your questions;-

Whether land should be reverted to villagers and whether Mtanga Food/Farm should be obligated to furnish commitments made by Sunbiofuels.

First and foremost issue to consider is whether Subiofuel was given a granted right of occupancy or derivative right? To my knowledge, it was a granted right of occupancy that gives Sunbiofuel right to dispose (sale, mortgage,  lease etc ).  The only question to be answered here is whether a shift of hands for Kibwegere farm (No. 3276, 8211 Ha big) from Sunbiofuel to Mtanga Farm and consequently Mtanga starts cattle production in the Farm was legal? This is a question of law and to my view, incomplete land transfer process from Sunbiofuel to Mtanga (A study that was done by Hakiardhi together with the study that was done by TNRF and Landesa informs a breach of condition in the title deed that may lead to revocation of right of occupancy by the president.

The next issue might be why no measures have not been taken to revoke Sunbiofuel title for such serious breach (this is best known to the government). If these revocation could have been effected, then villagers could have legitimate claim for the land.

Furthermore,Mtanga Food should be responsible to furnish commitments by Sunbiofuel? To me it the answer of yes and no. It is a yes because if Mtanga need to operate with social license, it needs so to do and avoid unnessesary conflicts with villagers. It is a no since these commitments are mere undocumented pledges and difficult to prove if disputed.

The community need to take lessons for future proposed investments and this take us back to previous contributions by many collegues here. Are community members full consulted and engaged to give informed decisions? Is the government accountable to the entrusted duty? etc


Thank you Baha for your thoughts on this. Happy to hear you are planning to share more on this. 

Hi Masalu, 

Colombia Center on Sustainable Investment promotes transparency in land deals and have put inplace open land contracts. This is a global online repository of publicly available commercial agriculture and forestry contract. This is an initiative that can be promoted as well. However, i am yet to see a contract between the government (central grovernemnt) and an investor doing commercial farming in Tanzania. I have seen three MoUs between  district councils and investor in Kisarawe, Katavi and Songea. I have also seen one contract between a village council in Kilolo District and an investor. All did not have a binding legal force. 

One of the offers i recenly met at the Ministry of Lands urgued that the Derivative Rights of Occupancy or the Granted Rights of Occupancy that the government give an investor is, in his views, tantamount to a contract. Both documents have some conditions such as developing land, paying rents and using land in environmentally sustainable way. He said, there is no need for additional contract.  This might be the reason why the contract is not given much weight by government officials in the  conversations around land-based investments in Tanzania. 


Hi Jevgeniy and Jens, 

You are right- the concept of adverse possession is recognized in Tanzania. Just to remind you that this concept, although is a legal way to get legitimate land ownership, it does not apply to land that belong to the government. Often when land is allocated to the investor it has to be transfered to general land, the title deed given in the name of TIC by the Commissioner of Lands, and then a derivative rights of occupancy is given to the investor. Thus, the land is under the ownership of the TIC which is the government entity. 

Moreover, a land may not be developed but the investor is paying rents and has submitted to the commissioner genuine reasons for not developing it. Villagers aren't informed because the land has moved from their control to the direct administation of the commissioner. 

Having said that, i must very much agree with you that failure to develop land (within three years as in Tanzania), is enough reason to make a case for revocation of ownership. Not developing land attracts trespassers and land use conflicts. 

Thanks Tim. From Sun biofuels to Thirty Degrees East to Mtanga Farms to... ? My friend Chambi Chachange discusses land acqustion and the politics of renaming in Tanzania

Thanks, Masalu,

Very good points. Not sure I've seen those two studies you cite, and the links didn't work for me. Could you post the full URLs?


I am glad this issue is discussed here. Indeed, this is the area that land rights CSOs need to effectively engaged. Strategic cases that were filed against the then NAFCO wheat concessions and operation vijiji program shaped the jurisprudence and reforms on property rights in Tanzania. Prof Shivji, Dr. Kapinga, Dr. Mvungi, Prof. Luoga, and Dr. Tenga were some of the leading figures who were involved on those cases under the legal aid unit of the then Faculty of Law-University of Dar es Salaam.

Similarly, Dr. Nshala, Mr. Shauri, Mr. Lissu, Prof. Kabudi and Prof. Majamba were involved in leading strategic litigations on environmental public interest cases under LEAT. WLAC and TAWLA are in the forefront on spearheading cases that involved women’s rights including the most recent one that was decided by the CEDAW Committee. LHRC, HAKIARDHI and PINGOs Forum- to mention the few, are also actively involved in this area.

While we have fairly good examples to inspire CSOs in Tanzania to continue engagement in strategic litigations and legal aid, I must point that we have few advocates/attorneys in Tanzania. As of May 2017, Tanzania has a total of 6081 advocates out of which 5019 are practicing-providing legal services to more than 45million people. Less than half of them (2133) are female and almost 80% of all advocates are practicing in one city (Dar es Salaam) where there are fewer cases involving large-scale investments. Thus, victims of human and land rights abuses are bound to hire services of lawyers in Dar es Salaam to represent them in courts that are located far from Dar es Salaam. This is adding to the costs of their fees. In addition to the costs of hiring advocates, victims will bear other costs associated with litigations. The costs of travels, accommodations and meals for them and their witnesses.

Strategic public interest litigations are expensive and may sometime require getting support from other organizations from the investor country. Sukenya case is one of the cases in which US courts and organisations provided support during litigation process which were taking place in Arusha-Tanzania.

Given its lengthy and costly nature, not many lawyers are attracted to it. My call to land rights CSOs is to create programs that will nature and build the interest of young lawyers to work in public interest cases when they are still in law schools.


Dr. Adam, 

You are right. What the National Land Use Planning Commission does is to include a clause in the contract with the company/investor that the land use plan they will facilitate will not gurantee him/her/them land. 

You are right Dave- Compensation is one of the thorny issue in LSLBI. I argued elsewhere that it is hard for landholder of be compensated fairly if the government plays central role in whole process of land acquisition. Often, government is involved in informing the community that their land would be acquired for investment purpose, survey and value the land, and then compensate the victim without checks and balance. The impact of this problem is seen in Kilwa and Kisarawe districts where the District Councils have used a portion of compensation that was due to villagers.

On the good note, of recent, the long awaited ‘land compensation fund” was fully established and constituted in Tanzania. New laws governing valuation and compensation were also passed. Although these are promising developments, more need to be done to implement these laws.

Models that are proposed by researchers other than fair livable compensation include; out-grower model, land investment share-model and food imperative model. These models are proposed in LSLBI and have worked in some geographies depending on the context and the type of crop production that is involved.  

Hi Godfrey,

The "contract with the company/investor that the land use plan they will facilitate will not gurantee him/her/them land" is very tricky my friend. Companies do not give free lunch! Anyway, may be isolated instances are there where companies do so but my pessimism suggests that we shun from these kind of practices if we can.

Hi Dr. Adam, 

Again, i very much agree with you. Based on your experience working with "Land Investment Unit" of the Ministry of Lands, what would you recommend on this?

Godfrey has provided a useful historical overview of processes of land alienation in Tanzania. We would like to highlight a few important aspects that need to be considered when we look back at this history of dispossession and its contemporary dynamics, and try to learn from both history and present:

  1. Land alienation has always been an outcome of multiple drivers, from agriculture to mining to conservation and tourism. When people lose land, or access to land, or control over land, it is often an outcome of intersecting or cascading effects of these various drivers
  2. Effects of land alienation are compounded by
    1. physical or economic displacement that leads to migration which promotes land conflicts elsewhere (e.g. evictions of Barabaig, evictions from Usangu plains, etc etc), and
    2. jobless economic growth that leaves smallholders without an alternative to land dependence (best example is conservation that takes up around 30% of Tanzania’s land for conservation-based tourism without generating jobs at a significant scale)
  3. Formalization of land tenure through village land-use planning (VLUP) is often well-intended but has, in practice, in many instances been a vehicle for dispossession due to the uneven power relations at play when people try to secure land rights through land use planning. Key questions to ask here are: who is paying and/or facilitating land use planning for whom? With what objective/purpose? Does land use planning accommodate for future land demand for the youth? Is land use planning restricting pastoral mobility? Problematic examples are Wildlife Management Area Resource Zone Management Plans that are facilitated by conservation NGOs and District authorities, and WMA CBOs with the goal to restrict land use for non-conservation activities without a viable option to change/update land use plans
  4. The Village Land Act 1999 recognizes the concept of adverse possession for people who have been residing in an area for at least 12 years, yet this legal provision has not gained traction and affected people remain vulnerable to threats of eviction
  5. Contrary to official pronouncements, Tanzania arguably does not have large swaths of ‘unused’, ‘vacant’, ‘underutilized’ land and we should be weary of statistics that suggest so. While there may be large dryland areas that appear underutilized, it is unlikely that these can be used for agricultural production the absence of huge investments in irrigation – if this is at all feasible, as competition over water is also on the rise. Indicators of a growing land squeeze in Tanzania are land conflicts, migration, displacement and evictions. Conservation alone takes up around 40% of all terrestrial land (30 % of which can be used for tourism), and if all WMAs would be implemented, we can add another 10 % to this. In a country with a growing, land dependent population, and a large share of land taken out of rural production with only 0,6-1,2 million tourism jobs in return, land becomes increasingly a valuable commodity. This is at odds with narratives of ‘vacant land’.
  6. The more valuable land becomes, the higher the chances that the poor will sell to the wealthy which in the long run will exacerbate unequal land distribution, creating classes of rentiers and classes of landless. Thus, simply securing individual land rights for poor will not necessarily be sufficient as they may feel pressured to sell their land.
  7. Even when investments in large-scale agriculture fail (which they often do), land conflicts are produced and may remain after the investor has left, people may have been dispossessed even before anything has been produced.
  8. If participation means that all ‘stakeholders’ were consulted (which is how it is often understood by government officials), it means not much in terms of securing rights for the most vulnerable because of their limited powers to influence decisions at the ‘participatory stakeholder table’.


We are currently in the process of getting a research article published, that further elaborates on these issues.


Jevgeniy Bluwstein and Jens Friis Lund

University of Copenhagen

Mr David Bledsoe asked a very genuine question that tell us why Tanzania practices are so different with other countries.

In the reality, large scale investment from those big companies are most focused rural areas, where there is iddle land with no security like pastoral areas especially  communal land. Communal land  and  unused land under administration of village government are always taken as granted as "no man land".  The bargaining power and legal framwork do not allow individual to negotiate compasation with these big investors due to capacity and managing contract. Thats is why the government of Tanzania established a system of first reclasfying the land, and then investors to make payment to the government and then the government will then compasate the individuals following the local context. But it takes long process and time consuming, and there is no assurance of having fair compasation due to transaction costs involved.

These companies are keen enough to assess the cost of making  fair compansation in the areas with no security versus the areas with land security(certificate). That's also tells why most big investors concentrate with dealing with unsecured land while there is other land with security they can take from other companies or individuals. 

Buying experiences from Rwanda, the government facilitated survey and certification of all pieces of land for individuals; among others it created power for individuals to enter into contracts with investors directly without  going first to the government, and the law allowed to.

In Tanzania we still have a long way to go through having first village land use planning following all six steps that also include certification of land at step four. At a certain point after years, Tanzania will reach a point to have fair compansation while every individual with their land including communal land have certificate.


Dear Karol,

I attempt to respond to your concerns on the Tanzania national Land Policy review. take my views as personal and not from the Government.

The Government of Tanzania is in the process of revising the National Land Policy to meet evolving needs in the country.
>>>Yes National Land Policy is being reviewed and I am happy to have participated as a member of the secretariat of the review. Thank you for being interested.

The current draft raises a number of concerns
>>>Yes there can still be concerns. In my opinion there is no perfect way to go about making a policy. And consultations are representative, otherwise a referendum is the only way to have all people say on something. Even with rigorous consultations and awareness there will still be different perceptions.

concerns including very limited attention to continuing problems related to women's ability to exercise and enforce formal land rights;
>>>Stakeholders were given opportunity to even craft text of what could be included in the policy.

concerns including limited discussion of how to address concerns related to pastoralist communities and conflict with farmers;
>>>there was discussion with many groups of pastoral communities

concerns including: issues related to equitable engagement with communities impacted by large-scale land based investments.
>>> there was consultations, what is it that is missing that you thought would have been included?

The draft NLP also does not align with the VGGT or Africa-focused guidance from the AU/LPI.
>>> May be you could clarify what is in the draft policy that you can authoritatively present as being not consistent with VGGT or Africa-focused guidelines, otherwise a sweeping statement like this cannot easily be worked on.

  1. Responsible land investments are those that are transparent, socially-inclusive and participatory, contribute to sustainable development, and respect the tenure of and benefit local communities. In terms of social inclusion, land investments must engage women and foster gender equality. This is critical because women play a vital role in rural economies--as smallholder farmers, agricultural laborers, and household food providers. Loss of access to land and resources such as water and forest products will negatively impact household welfare, agricultural productivity and rural economies overall. Therefore, women must be informed of the proposed land investment and involved in the decision-making processes from the beginning, regardless of whether they formally own or hold the land they farm (they rarely do in many developing countries). Women must be given the opportunity to voice their concerns about the investment and negotiate for a share of the benefits and replacement of resources they need and use that will be lost.    

 In the Tanzanian context, the country’s laws appear to be progressive gender-wise. The Constitution guarantees gender equality and non-discrimination, and the land laws (1999 Land Act and Village Land Act) grant women equal land rights and provide strong protections from discrimination under customary law. Tanzania has a quota system that promotes gender-inclusive land administration and management bodies; at the village level, one-fourth of Village Council (the village executive organ) members to be women. The country has also signed on to binding international and regional conventions that protect women, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (AfCHPR) and its Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol).  Tanzania’s Development Vision 2025, which aims to propel the country from least developed to middle income status, includes as a goal “gender equality and women’s empowerment in all socio-economic and political relations and culture.”

 In practice, studies show that Tanzanian women have yet to fully benefit from the progressive provisions in the laws. Women remain largely marginalized in decision-making processes related to land investments. In part this is because village communities in general have little say regarding land investments, but it also stems from customary norms and practices that discriminate against women, and barriers they face such as limited mobility, domestic responsibilities, and lower literacy levels.

 International instruments such as the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT), and the Guiding Principles on Large Scale Land Based Investments in Africa (LSLBI) can provide guidance to national governments (and to the private sector to a certain extent in the VGGT) on how land investments can be negotiated, structured, and implemented so that citizens and communities, including marginalized groups such as women, can participate in the process and avail of the benefits. Though voluntary, these instruments reflect global/regional consensus on a set of norms to govern land tenure and governance as well as land-based investments.

However, these instruments are at the level of principles. Governments and companies need more detailed guidance on how to operationalize them. Technical guides and playbooks aimed at providing practical steps, mechanisms, and processes for operationalizing the principles and norms have been or are being developed by international agencies and NGOs, such as the FAO and Landesa. But these must be accompanied by adequate resources for implementation and capacity building of government agents who will be charged with implementing them.

 2.      When a project or investment is proposed in their lands, one of the disadvantages faced by communities is lack of information. There is a general lack of information or transparency regarding the proposed investment, at the same time communities lack information or knowledge about their rights and obligations under the law and how the investment will impact them overall, in terms of their land tenure, their livelihoods, and their environment. They do get information most of the time regarding potential benefits, such as job opportunities and new local infrastructure or services (roads, health centers, schools, etc.), but don’t know that to be binding on the investor these benefits must be in writing in the proper form. They are also likely to be unaware of the economic value of their land and therefore agree to minimal compensation and potential benefits in exchange.  In Tanzania, studies show that many villagers were unaware that the transfer of land to the investor is permanent, and they cannot get back the land even if the investment fails. The land is reclassified from village land to general land and reverts to the state, and villagers are left hanging, with no land and no jobs or benefits. When this happens, women tend to be disproportionately affected, as they have less opportunities than men for alternative livelihoods or outmigration.

Civil society can play a key role in addressing this information or knowledge gap, through rights- awareness and capacity-building activities, on the one hand, and by monitoring implementation of laws and policies on the other. CSOs can prepare communities to negotiate or deal with investors by educating them about the relevant laws (land laws, investment laws, etc.) and by training community members to be paralegals who can help educate and advise other village members about the laws and their rights.   CSOs also have an important role in fostering transparency in the land investment process by making sure that adequate information about the project or investment reaches the affected communities. Education and training of communities must be done in a gender-sensitive manner. Women may need separate sessions if community norms and practices bar them from speaking up or participating fully when men are present.  


Hi Valentin,

Thanks for the very expository issue you raise here. And most of all, for the link. A key problem with understanding the work is that the author did not expressly define "participation" or what he/she means by "participatory" in the context of the program/initiative and weighed in the context of societal expectation. The problem is that oftentimes, the government and local people have different ideas of what "participation" mean. Sometimes the government refer to mere "involvement" as participation whereas the people are seeking for "collaboration". Sometimes the government do "partnership" (in some bad cases "manipulation" of selected people) and call it "participation". Since it is difficult to get absolute participation, there will always be some sort of levels or ladders participation. See Sherry Anstein's ladders of participation to particularly spot where all of these lie. 

In the context of our discussion here, it appears the people of Tanzania wanted "citizenship power" or "partnerships" while the program was only offering a mix of "consultation", "placation" and "delegated power" where it pleased them.

These levels of participation are not bad and do serve good purpose if well utilised. The issue with gaining citizens power is that in cases where the people are not involved (that is participating) in the funding provision, it is difficult for funders and government to want to share "power".

I strongly encourage that we gun for the upper levels of participation but we must be definitive with what we mean by participation. Most times, neither the people and the government are definitive. It then makes it difficult.

Dear discussants, apart from investment administration challenges that Tanzania is facing, I would like to pin point out some few lessons and/or good practices that Tanzania has mapped. Such practices are vital if investment has to sustain in Africa

The government of Tanzania has adopted the best practice of reviewing the land based investment related policies to improve among others, the status of investment in Tanzania. For example, the government has called for the review of the land policy to cater for dynamics in land use in Tanzania

The government has further identified challenges in addressing gender challenges. For example the in the land policy review process consultations, the government acknowledge of the gender aspect to be well addressed in most of investment legal frameworks, but the challenge remains with traditional practices. That is, implementation of the genders aspect with regard to gender is still a challenge.

With the challenge, the government envisions awareness as part of the solution as most women are not aware of their right despite the legal framework that supports women rights in the country. Most legal instruments are in English and rural women use Kiswahili in communication. This further present the communication barrier challenge and the government has encouraged development partners to cordially advocate for the challenge by providing simple translations that can be easily understood by most communities.

To further overcome the gender bias, the community as a whole should be able to assert their rights and strengthen their negotiation capacity in dealing with investors. CSOs are in the position use current intervention to encourage public awareness prior to investment. This includes the use of media and public announcement (PA) systems to villages on the availability and incoming of an investor. The government has also not discouraged/banned registration of NGOs that can provide the use of the legal aid in contract negotiation and signing that safeguards the needs of the community.

The current CSOs status can allow CSOs to be involved as a watchdog of the investment process. This will in turn allow full involvement of the community in negotiation of prices during compensation practices. In addition it can foster for Social-Economic Impact auditing during project implementation to check for community socio-economic benefits from investment. However, the challenge remains the willingness of investors to involve CSO from initial stages of the investment.

The village land act has provided villagers with powers to sign contract on behalf of the villagers This is a good example of land administration decentralization in Africa that can scaled up in other countries. The use of village governments in signing the final contract is desirable because such low level administrative units understand the needs of the community in a more detailed manner that could the central government. However contract negotiation should be done with the legal aid around.

My fifty cents contribution on this.

Help in land use planning- CSOs can monitor how the land use planning projects operated by the government and (other private investors-financed by) are implemented as in the case of  Land tenure support program in Kilombero, Malinyi, Ulanga. Moreover they can also assist in land use planning preparations especially in rural areas.

Issue early warnings- especially on the intensity of conflicts among different land users and offer a call for resolving them before they escalate. CSOs can partner with other likeminded international organisations and media when doing this work. A good case is on how CSOs addressing rights of pastoralists have worked and are still working with International Working Group on Indigenous Affairs.

Document the best practices in resolving land conflicts among different land use stakeholders and file cases-public interest litigation cases-for jurisprudence development on dispute resolution and land governance issues. A good example is the recent decision in favour of Ogiek community

Responsibly investing in land, which is currently in use, to any extent and during any time of the year, including as a fallowed field, requires identifying who is using the land, how they are using the land, and what benefit they are gaining from that use, at the level of the individual. If that information is diligently gathered and all loss of use of the land is fairly compensated, at the level of the individual, then that is a responsible investment in land.

While it sounds fairly simple and straightforward, ensuring that neither men nor women are harmed by the investment is difficult because communities are not organized around individual rights. They tend to be organized around community rights and responsibilities and household rights and responsibilities. And we know that if we are approaching a community or household as a unit, we will only be learning about and understanding the land situation from the perspective of men—men as head of household and head of the community.  If a specific effort is not made to include women in the information meetings and the decision-making, women will not be included.

So how do investors make sure women’s uses of and benefit from land are captured? Here are a few basic ideas:

  1. Talk to women activists in the community. Why activists? Because even women leaders may not think of the roles women play or the contribution they make to the household with use of household land. And sometimes there is an information gap between female leaders, who are generally older and wealthier than young women who are starting their adult life.
  2. Ask women in the field how they use the land, what they collect from the land (wood? Mushrooms? Herbs?), when they use the land (seasonally? Daily?), and how they benefit from the land.  Do not ask about rights (they generally have no rights except the right of access).
  3. Make an effort to identify the roles and obligations of both men and women in the community. Women generally raise food for their families, collect wood, fetch water, and ensure children are fed, clothed, and if possible, educated.  No investment that does not fully consider women can be a responsible investment.

I honour valuable contributions made regarding gender responsive investment


I should also pinpoint that most rural women work load cannot be compared to men due to limited or unavailable access to services. For instance women spend a lot of time in search of wood for fuel and water. Hence gender equitable investment will be realised where there is equitable access to services or rather services are improved to allow both men and women participate in investment


Lack of full property rights like land   especially to women is an obstacle since most feel not attached to resources hence limited willingness to invest in production. This obstacle has its root in most Tanzania traditions which are patriotic and women do not enjoy full rights of occupancy of resources like land. Hence affirmative action of the state such as gender mainstreaming in all its programs is very crucial so as to allow both men and women  participate in investment .Also providing women more opportunities such as  micro financing trainings, credits and entrepreneurship program  is crucial to narrow the existing gender inequalities in investment


From social and economic perspective getting men support is very crucial in realising gender responsive investment. This is so because most intervention i coordinated in the field shows that women are not allowed or have limited chance or permission from their families or spouse to engage in economic activities and even in decision making.


The government is supposed to balance the conflicting interest, on one hand it is the government that is luring  investors to come and invest but on the other hand when one shift the focus on implementation of land policy there is a discrepancy, the context of the study you mention is the biofuel boom, we were all caught by surprise, with interested investors demanding million of hecters for biofuel and it is from the same context when as a nation we started questioning  the statistics on land use and utilization. 

 The government need to put the house in order before luring investors, but even rethink the strategy, accumulation from below may be a solution to what we are trying to deal with, why not start from the premise that Tanzania is an agrarian nation where smallholder farmers, pastoralists are dominant. Why not consider the 65.5% of the population and empower them to invest by creating conducive environment  that will enable active participation in the industrialization agenda, while I am not against FDIs, I think the government need to attract only strategic investments that which will add value to what we produce internally. I am still convinced that as a nation specifically at the time a focus is on reviewing the national land policy, it is not bad to go back to earlier studies and recommendations. The report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters is very rich and to date still relevant on the topic we are engaging, when we debate whether to opt for foreign led investment in agriculture I go back to the Commission report page 137 "Paths of Development" very informative on what kind of choices we need to adopt as a nation. I even go back and try to understand why the Germans at some point decided to restrict settlers and encouraged peasant agriculture, why Sir Donald Cameroun the second British governor in Tanganyika hesitated a lot to allow in more settlers. 

The National Five Year Development Plan-II, has a lot about the direction Tanzania should take, and what role different sectors need to play, but when it comes to land question as I pointed earlier in my contribution it starts from the premise that the existing land policy and legal framework has failed us miserable, in what sense? it is too cumbersome for investors to access land!and not that we have a lot of land related conflicts between different land users some of which are related to the manner in which power relations are arranged.

There is a need to clean our house first before we welcome visitors, the house need to be in order otherwise what is happening now in the mining sector may again surface, investments in agricultural land should be encouraged not at the expense of women and men,small holder farmers, pastoralists, hunter gatherers or peri-urban land users. This should be the role of state, to ensure that only strategic investments that will stimulate accumulation from below and not top down approaches that have been dominant in our time.


Would you mind explaining a bit more about he multistakeholder forum that you were engaged with during biofuel boom in Tanzania. I know context might have changed  but if one is to be established now, what suggestions would you make interms of its composition, roles and engagement strategy?


Hi Godfrey, 

I am sure that you will learn that a company that gives some money for the government agency to do land use plan of a village becomes unhappy when altiimately the village realises that there littele or no land to set aside for an investor. It actually can happen that such a company tries to influence the land use plan itself! It is indeed not a proper way to go, I think

Hello Betha! I couldn't agree with you more. Based on your expereince, I was wondering if you could share some useful approaches / best practices that help change the mindset of men around women's invovlment in economic activities? 

Thanks Renee, to add onto your points, it's important to address land from the economic point of view and family  security, right discussion is great and important but most of the time it scares people and sounds like fighting with existing traditions.


The re's a need to also involve men in the discussion of land and what it means for a women to own and make decisions on land.

For activist, it is important we start making it clear especially with policy makers the difference between access and ownership and how missing just one can cause harm to women's land right and empowerement process.

While I agree with Baha, it's imperative for CSOs to continue working along with communities and looking for information. From experiences, we all know information especially from the government and companies do not come easy. If we stick to lets monistor, how can we monitor situations we are not sure of? How do we now what to monitor or what not withought fighting for those spaces and sources no matter how slim they might be.

I think CSOs have  been sensitizing communities for a loing time and they should continue doing so, but they also have to keep fighting and creating spaces no matter how small or challenging they might be.


agree with you


I think you are better placed to elaborate on this since this was under your docket! remember for the first time, conservationists, livelihood-right based organizations, government at both level, local and national actively participated, companies specifically those with alternative models and who thought they were implementing socially, environmentally responsible investments participated. I remember leading colleagues to Mpanda where PROKON Renewable Energy Company invited us to learn the investment model they were employing.

The context has changed but we already have processes going on and may be as Marry rightly points out we as CSOs need to engage into little spaces that are provided or demand for more opening up,or innovate ways of ecreating platforms that can bring us together and we already are doing that, will elaborate on this but not at this point.  I remember during the implementation of ASDP the government invited us and my organization at that time granted me the opportunity to participate, in a way there was opennes where the government was sharing on what was going on in terms of implementation and would ask what role can or are you playing and how you wish to be involved. Let us hear from members on this as I do not want to pre empty, apart from sharing experience for me it is a space where I am learning a lot, will come back on this topic at some point as we continue debating and exchanging ideas. 

Dr Adam,

I very much agree with you, this is what we call conflict of interest, remember companies are profit oriented they are not charities why should I fund a land use plan and only to realize I have nothing to gain? or very little? 

Hi Lukasz,

Thanks for your contribution and the work you all are doing here. The point I wanted to make concerning "citizen power" (which did not come as I wanted it) is that. As a level of participation, the points of "citizen power" or "partnership" is a hard nut to crack because usually communities (or local municipalities tend not to be involved in the funding provision for projects within their localities. This is generally the case in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). In high-level funded programs such we can see in Tanzania,  Local people fail in their bid to gain "power" over development because they are not involved (that is participating) in the funding provision. So, the government partner with funders and hold on to top-down structures because that's from where and how the funds flow down.

I have always wondered that...

If local communities can source their own fund (contribution) to some of these projects -even if something like 1% or 0.5% -they will have a stronger stake to broker stronger participation. I know this is can sound unrealistic in SSA but it is something local municipalities/communities can try (with banks, third-party funding agencies) when such big programs are being designed.

On the part of all, gaining full participation demands for a change in approaches and behaviours to project design and implementation.



Hi Jolyne, 

Most recently, i came to learn that the National Land Use Planning Commission, the body responsible for coordination and supervision of land use planning in Tanzania, has supervised implementation of village land use plans at the request of companies. Companies have submitted formal requests and have funded implementation of land use plans before acquiring land. 

TNRF is still documenting the success stories and challenges of their work in this area. This will certainly provide some lessons, particulary on how companies can support land rights documentation without letting investments interests affect land rights of the communities. 

There are cases as documented in the recent study by Askew and others, that show how land use plans and formalization programms have been used as a tool of dispossession.  This is a reminder that, formalization and documentation of rights may not be the conclusive way to secure rights. We need to be cognizant of the politics and drivers of formalization agenda.  

Hallo Baha, 

Great contribution. While we are waiting for Jolyne to respond, i would like to add a footnote contribution on this. International and regional voluntary guidelines are not one size fits all, efforts must be made to domesticate them into a binding domestic laws, as you rightly put. In my views, new tools do not depart from the existing tools but are more refined into country and context specific situtation. Thus, making them more effective and implementable. 

By piloting such new tools, one build a body of envidence that can be used to push for reforms agenda in the country. Karol (in her post above) shared that the ongoin National Land Policy Review in Tanzania has not borrowed alot from the existing international and regional  guidelines. Indeed, that might partly be because of less advocacy work done in promoting them or, i would argue, lack of evidence from Tanzania in support of their effectiveness and understanding of policy makers to warrant policy considerations. 

In his blog post last year, Gregory Myers, reflects on VGGTs and documents diffent cases that shows they are working. I agree with you that we need to do more advoacy work in this area and, perhaps,i would say, by using some more context and country specific guides.

Hi Geoff,

Ruth Hall, and PLAAS (in general) have done a lot of research on land investments in Africa. True, their broader definition is important for two major reasons. (1) Inclusiveness is a basic character of any responsible land investment. (2) The agricultural component is important because it reflects the predominant sector where most land investments are happening in Africa.

Thanks for your very important question, Lukasz.

In general, the following document provides very important information concerning SAGCOT. See

True gender challenges, especially as they relate to women's capacity to negotiate land deals and rights have been reported to be slowing SAGCOT outcomes due to top-down procedures.  Of course, this is serious because 98% of rural women who are economically active in Tanzania are engaged in agriculture. Despite this problem, "Tanzania has one of the strongest land law frameworks in Sub-Saharan Africa for the protection of rural land rights" (as confirmed by World Bank).  This alone provides a principle for implementation.

What makes SAGCOT unique is that it recognizes that it is an agricultural country. The rural areas are not completely left out mainly because the "agriculture" is located in rural areas. As a result, they are not being ignored, but the program is definitely not catering for all their needs due to the Top-down procedures involved.


It is my pleasure to contribute on this discussion on Responsible Investment in Land-Context from Tanzania.

Investment in agriculture is not new in Tanzania, I am glad that has been highlighted above,  in past, there were farmers’ cooperatives unions in Tanzania, within union farmers organized themselves, it gave people power to negotiate and decide through their farmers' union. To date, in all districts there are government officers responsible for cooperatives it is important that people are organised from that level instead of a top down organisation of farmers

Taking you  to cooperatives and farmers' union is because I believe people (men and women) need to be at the centre of the responsible investment agenda. Responsible investment should aim at empowering people instead of disempowering them. And in all discussion people’s well being should be central.

The power relation between the state, companies and people inform much on the kind of investment, and these power relations and gender relations are cemented by the laws and policies in the country. Can they say No, Yes or suggest alternatives? Is that possible in Tanzania?

I am glad that we are reviewing our land policy in Tanzania. The next land policy need to put people's well being at the centre, then we will achieve the responsible land investment.

 I conquer with majority contributors here especially on the challenge around lack of transparency and accountability in managing land investment deals and the whole process of community consultation in the land acquisition processes. Reflecting in the current National Land Policy review process, among the issues raised by CSOs platform is call for more inclusive process and insures that the majority of Tanzanians are participating in the process and are able to provide their opinion. It is an-disputable that land is an important resource which is attached to our lives and national identity, therefore inclusive decisions on handling and managing land affairs becomes a key aspect when considering policy change. Among the major proposed shift in the Draft National Land Policy is the abolition of Certificate of customary rights of Occupancy (CCROs). The simple questions would be what the change means to the 70% of land which is in the village land, what does the change mean to 80% of the population whose livelihood depends on small scale farming? And the discussion can go further on the implication to the poor women producers. The mandate for managing and protecting village land is vested to the village land council on behalf of the villagers however, with the proposed changes, it means the power vested to this body is going to be transformed to the central government or Commissioner for Land.  In this context, land users under village will have to comply with conditions set under the granted right of occupancy including paying rent, adherence to development/ improvement of the land standards and other cost related to processing title deeds. An anticipated challenge to poor small scale producers’ majority being women is failure to meet conditions set and ultimately they will become landless. If the motive behind the shift is to simplify the process for acquiring land for investment, this will create more tenure insecurity that will result into more land related conflicts. 

True Lukasz, these initiatives in most cases come from top! we really need to find the way these can work with the ongoing systems in the ground. Mentioning SAGCOT region, Morogoro and that part of the country has been refered as the nation's 'food store' or ghala la taifa in swahili. Farmers in that region have been feeding the country in their humble ways and technologies. Coming of technologies and expertise need to work with the ongoing need and demand of the people. They  are not stagnant, they are moving and hence efforts such as Kilimo kwanza and the likes should support people's agricultural systems.

Designs should consider what people are doing on the ground, and companies and governments should work with communities from the planning stage


Civil Society Organizations should consider the following when advocating for responsible investments. 

United by a common goal with a coordinated efforts: When united and coordinate by common goals, CSOs can find issues that need to be addressed and do advocacy work irrespective of their different priorities. Joint advocacy is a key in achieving meaningful results when addressing issues around investments that affects communities. Government will also give recognition

Generate information: CSOs should generate information, interpreter and transfer it to communities, the government and investors. Information is source of empower and voice to women, men, small holder farmers, community members, and every individual or group whose livelihood depend on land and other natural resources. Therefore, research and capacity building programs are critical tools of generating information that can be used when doing advocacy.

 Maintain autonomy and independence: There are likely chances of cooptation by the government or companies when not careful in addressing issues around investment. To remain fair and objective, CSOs must maintain autonomy and independence in their work. 

Thanks to Naomi for raising this important question with regard to the alternative models, I also agree that villagers/rural producers, men and women in our case need to be at the centre and alternatively through cooperatives and farmers union. I have thought about another alternative, why is it always the case that when it comes to large scale land based investment, village land has to change category into general? The Village Council as a body coorporate can enter into contract on behalf of the Village Assembly in this case owners of land with whoever is interested to invest in village land without necessarily transfer its part of land into general land, very unfortunate that even the little that remains in the village is going to be taken since the new approach being proposed is for all land that is suitable for investment to be set aside, titled if possible and pay compansation then allocate to interested investors.

This is already happening through creation of Special Economic Zones (SEZ), Export Processing Zones (EPZ), the drive for the current land reforms is partly reflecting on the quest for industrialization and the fact that the laws as they are today have failed to address the challenges, this is what the National Five Year Development Plan 2016/2017-2020-2021 says about the need for reforms,“Land use planning and management are a key variable for unlocking the potential for growth by making land accessible for productive uses in rural and urban areas. Land policy, as governed by the two Acts, namely, the Land Act 1999 and Village Land Act 1999, is not capable of facilitating industrialization. Renewed focus on formalization of land ownership and commercialization can be combined to solve land disputes including those between investors and existing landholders and users. The acquisition of land for investment is currently a complicated and lengthy process. The bureaucracy and procedures involved in acquiring land for investment are cumbersome, raise transaction costs to potential investors and are thus a deterrent.” (NFYDP-II, 2016:108) What is the FYDP-II proposing? creation of one-stop centers for investors interested in huge chunks of land at national level as well as at Regional Secretariat and LGAs, establishment of land banks specifically designated for industrialization with all the services and infrastructures (title deeds, irrigation schemes, feeder roads, power, etc.)

When I reflect on this and read the proposed draft Land Policy, I do not see small holder farmers, women and men in villages and peri-urban areas having their concerns addressed but a strong focus is on what is not working in favor of investors and what can be done, is very important for us to analyse the land question and the proposed solution in Tanzania from the perspective of the National Five Year Development Plan-II 2016/2017-2020/2021, otherwise we may miss a bigger picture if we are just coming from perspectives of experiences we have had while implementing the Land Act, as Godfrey rightly points out in one of his contributions on the topic of implementation the Land Act No 4 as compared to the Village Land Act No 5 have been reviewed several times, now it is time for the Village Land Act, will the reforms be in the interest of small holder producers, hunter gatherers, pastoralists, women and men in rural and peri urban areas? will it take into consideration that this is a country where 65.5% of the population depend on agriculture for their livelihood?as we rethink the question of investment and in this case "responsible investments" we need to reflect on and engage more critically.

To Build on Mary’s contribution, I would add;

CSOs have the mandate to provide legal aid: Legal aid is important way for communities to seek grievance mechanism when affected by investment operations. This can also be a way of helping the Village Council in the process of negotiation and contracting with investors. All these should be done free of costs (probono) because communities cannot afford paying for such services.  

Capacity Building: Often when investor approach communities, it is the government officials from the district or regional level who speak on behalf of investors. CSOs should train villagers on how to engage with investors during consultation, negotiation and contracting, and even in monitoring investment. CSOs can also be allowed to speak on behalf of communities on technical issues at all stages of investment life cycle.

Monitoring and Evalutaion: This is very important role that can at best be played by CSOs. A more user friendly monitoring tool need to be developed that put criteria for responsible investment. The tool should be open to investors and communities. CSOs can use the tool to monitor investment and present the findings to a multi-stakeholder forum such as the one that Baha hinted above. 

Hello, Lukasz!

While 'perception' exists with regard to the top-down nature of many partnerships, the Kilimo Kwanza Initiative is a practical example to prove that it is no longer a perception but a reality. A Land rights NGOs in Tanzania (HAKIARDHI) has documented how Kilimo Kwanza was formulated  and exclusion of not only small producers (farmer&pastoralist), but also a cross section of active & relevant stakeholders (NGOs &Media). Read

I agree to what you have written Karol, the National land policy draft do not align with the VGGT or F&G for land policy in Africa. I personally do not see the draft putting its focus on small holder farmers and pastoralist women and men. I see it not responding to what has not been working for these group but rather what was not working better for investors.

I see it responding to the National's five years development plan 2016  which suggest to make  the process of land acquisation easy and avoid complications and length of the time to acquire land. It suggests review of the two land law to support industrialisation and social economic transformation.

All what the plan is suggesting may be good, but I think there is a need to balance or make sure ambitions to quicken  investments procedures do not compromise rights and well being of its citizen.

The ongoing National Land Policy  review process and other related natural resources policies have made the legal  investment environment to lag behind.  Therefore inorder to improve the  policy framework  in Tanzania, there is further need to amend the 1997 Investment Act, Competition law, commercial, contract and labour laws together with  commercial dispute system. Also there is a need for Tanzania to formulate a comprehensive investment guide which will honour and coordinate  all relevant policies related to investment.  

Policy makers should consider/consult/analyse  both inside and outside investment policy frameworks and guidelines so as to have effective independent  and responsive investment framework which benefit the country and its communities. CSOs have a critical role in shaping the reforms by developing and piloting gender-sensitive responsible investment model guides.

Hi Lukasz and Naomi,

The top-down "thing" is a major problem and has consequences on "inclusiveness" and "participation". It demands for a change in "thinking" and "practices" within our institutions, governments and societies. As you know, this is not something that will get resolved on the within a short period. One way will be to adopt an incremental sensitisation approach based on development activism (for inclusive gender-mainstreamed participation). This is already happening, and I am hopeful it will improve on the long-run.

Thanks for sharing the Haki Ardhi report Valentin! The report's findings and recommenations largely mirror Ms Chung's thoughts from her research in Bagamoyo. Her comment is below and definitely worth reading. Based on this dailogue, it seems to me that we still have a lot to learn about how PPP models truely impact smallholders and their communities. 

Dr. Chiagu, I couldn't agree with you more on the importance of defining and clarifying "participation". By aligning expectations, goverment, the community and the company will be in a better postion to build trust, credibilty and help the company establish a social liscense with the the community. Appreciate you adding the link to the ladders. Its's very useful. 

Hi, Youjin! Thanks for taking the time to punch out such detailed thoughts. You did a solid job of outlining the complexities that need to be considered and addressed when making investments in land. Will there be a full report coming out anytime soon? 

Hi Mr. Baha. I’m jumping in to provide some more clarity on the guidance Jolyne mentioned. What Landesa has noticed is that while internationally accepted instruments such as the VGGTs and AU Guidelines provide much-needed higher level principles on socially responsible land-related investments, they lack practical, country specific detail that is needed for government, companies and communities to carry out investments in a socially responsible manner. In my opinion, the lack of detail in many of the existing “guides” makes it difficult for them to be tested. Given this, we have found that companies are seeking more granular information on how to, for example, carry out FPIC within the Tanzania context. Government, particularly at the district level, seems to have a strong desire to improve their current practices around investments in land and communities want to be empowered to meaningfully participate in the investment process.

So in coordination with MLHHSD, local civil society and academia, three step-by-step guidebooks - one for investor, one for government, and one for community – are being developed to address issues / topics outlined in David Bledsoe's post -consultation and engagement, impact assessment, rights identification, FPIC, fair compensation, good contracts, and accessible grievance mechanisms. They idea is that these guides will help government, communities and companies negotiation and implement a discrete investment in a responsible manner.

I do agree with you that the timing may not be the best given that the government is reviewing the national land policy. At some point, the guidebooks will need to be updated or they will not be useful. That said, amending laws and policies can take years. And I’m not convinced that investments will wait until laws are in place, responsibilities clarified, etc. So, I think, and hope that these will be off use and value, at least in the interim.

Have you ever been in a situation where you have been cited as an inciter? and according to our laws a licence to be stoped, banned from exercising your duties? from the noble work of awareness raising, telling in a narrative way, these are the procedures, consultation from level A-B, Godfrey told us about companies approaching the National Land Use Commission for land use expertise, did CSO participate? and if not why?so I think we shouldnt focus on what ought to be but on the practice, while I agree on what Mr Mkama is highlighting about the role of CSOs I just want to point out some few cases, members of Tanzania Land Alliance (TALA) such as HAKIARDHI, LHRC, LEAT, PINGOS Forum, WLAC, UCRT,MVIWATA, TNRF, PAICODEO, CORDS, TAWLA, MPLC, PWC at al are doing a very great job. I hope they share their experience some of them have started sharing and I hope many more revelation will come from their experiences, it is not simple as many of us would think, I personally have experiences where independent monitors were barred from accessing investors farms by representative of government, and areas where CSOs where invited to play their role but when the villagers knew of their rights called for review of their earlier consent and revocade calling for new consultations. In Tanzania CSOs working on land rights have always strived to act within the laws by sensitising communities about their land righst and how to negotiate or bargain.

Should CSOs be engaged on behalf of companies?from experience CSOs should continue to play their  monitoring role, sensitize communities  etc since companies are always backed up by the state, the state should play its dutiful role to ensure everything is taken good care of

Hi Lukasz, 

I would recommend you read Youjin's blog. It has a lot of information on her research work in Bagamoyo. 

Dear esteemed discussants,

It gives me a sense of great privilege and honor to be a co-facilitator for this important debate on responsible land-based investments. The term “responsible land-based investments” has come from efforts by the international community to address the impact of the ‘fourth phase’ of land grabs on the African continent, and other regions in the world. The first generation was during the colonial period when there was a scramble and partition of Africa characterized by massive plunder and luting of resources. This was followed by the second phase of land grabs by independent states justified in the name of national building projects and resource nationalism ideology. Thereafter, the third phase was spearheaded by some national elites, especially those who had retired from national politics. This was at the time that Africa adopted neo-liberal policies imposed by the World Bank and IMF through Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs).  We are now facing this fourth phase of land grabs, which is largely driven by food, fuel, financial crises and capitalist greed causing unprecedented land acquisitions in developing countries, especially those that are in the sub-Saharan Africa, including Tanzania.

Even with the efforts made by international and regional bodies such as the FAO and AU to put in place voluntary guidelines that regulate responsible investments, there are still tremendous challenges around land and responsible investments throughout most countries, including Tanzania. Case studies have documented how investment consultations have violated rights of communities; how negotiations and contracting have sidelined communities; and how investments have further alienated communities from their land. Women are perhaps the most affected by these investments in land.

Still, the global community, national leaders and local communities; business, government and civil society must find solutions that balance economic development, decreased poverty and inequality, food security, environmental stewardship and climate change, and women’s empowerment and equality.

Our hope is that this debate will offer ideas and examples on how best to implement best practices or alternatives that can provide solutions to the challenges we are facing. Let us share best and worst cases of investments that can provide lessons and insights to governments, communities and investors on how to implement land-based investment projects while strongly protecting land rights and bettering the lives of affected communities, and women and men community members. 

I am excited to contribute to a discussion on responsible investment in land. This is a very timely discussion not only for Tanzania but also to the World given the food security agenda and the pressure exerted to by large scale land based investors. For Tanzania, the context is:

  1. a large country blessed with large tracts of fertile lands,
  2. the communities are predominantly rural and mostly depend on subsistence agriculture,
  3. there is potential for large scale land based investments,
  4. there is a land tenure system with a notion of securing customary land
  5. in place and accessible online: the National Land Policy 1995, the Land Act 1999, the Village Land Act 1999
  6. in place are sound institutions for land administration: the Ministry of Lands, district councils and village councils
  7. the land policy is currently being reviewed to cater for, among other things, enhanced access to land for large scale land based investments and monitoring the land for the highest and best use

As regards responsible investment, academic definitions may be formulated but in my view, inherent in the responsibility should be:

  1. previous land occupiers should be compensated for loss of land
  2. proceeds from the investment should benefit not only the investor but also the local and central governments and the community
  3. the benefits to the community should not be only one off, instead they should be long term benefits in the form of equity or rent, community development fund, extension of appropriate technology and practices and farmer-outgrower practices
  4. the investment should not ruin the environment
  5. communities should be consulted/engaged throughout the life cycle of the investment
  6. none serous people or companies posing as investors should not hold the land idle for speculation

Currently large scale land based investments in Africa vary in terms of responsibility. For example, community-investor disputes relating to lack of inadequate compensation are common.  Also common are unfulfilled promises to communities and poor relations which sometimes culminate to aggressiveness which may also lead to sabotage. Women suffer the more when relations between investors and communities sour.

I thank the organizers for bringing this discussion up. In my opinion, my understanding is that a responsible investor in land enjoys a social license necessary for the investment to survive. As land investments are long term, an irresponsible investor is destined to failure. What are your views?

The urgency for creating responsible investments in land around the world has stretched the debates on the practical instruments needed for land investments. A description of the basic elements of what responsible land investment entails and how it can be diagnosed can help actors in the land sector to understand the best ways to make improvements. The first step is grasping what “responsible” means from a “land investment” perspective.


Putting it very simply, one can identify “responsible investment in land” when one analyses a land investment and found it to have the following elements – responsive, equitable, profitable, inclusive, respectable and accountability – within the context of its structures, processes, outcomes and impacts. From this perspective, “Responsible” relates to structures, processes, outcomes and impacts of an “investment in land”. That is why “responsible land investment” stands at the cornerstone of social, economic and environmental developments. In the context of Tanzania, please address the following questions.  


Nearly 75 percent of the population of Tanzania is engaged in agriculture. Agriculture is a top priority issue in Tanzania’s development plans. The Kilimo Kwanza initiative (meaning, Agriculture first) adopted in 2009, is a major signal to the importance of agriculture in the country. It is the backbone of the Tanzanian economy. In tackling the challenge of land (agricultural) investment, initiatives such as The Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor (SAGCOT) – a public-private partnership initiative between the Tanzanian government, agri-corporations, donors, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) – have been hailed as a model for agricultural development by the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition of the G8. So, there is a significant level of success being recorded in the country. Other countries can learn from Kilimo Kwanza initiative and SAGCOT in Tanzania. However, more still need to be achieved in Tanzania. The government still needs to strengthen its policy frameworks to improve investments in the country. Obstacles to inclusive investment (e.g. gender differences), tenure insecurity, lack of know-hows and business skills need to be improved. In your opinion, discuss the following questions.

The Government of Tanzania is in the process of revising the National Land Policy to meet evolving needs in the country.  The current draft raises a number of concerns including: very limited attention to continuing problems related to women's ability to exercise and enforce formal land rights; limited discussion of how to address concerns related to pastoralist communities and conflict with farmers; and issues related to equitable engagement with communities impacted by large-scale land based investments. The draft NLP also does not align with the VGGT or Africa-focused guidance from the AU/LPI. The government should expand its consultative process, engage more actively with women's groups and pastoralist groups and also work to align the draft document with international good practice documents. 

Are the companies observing the basics? Are they respecting, protecting and strengthening land rights of women, men and other social groups? Are they observing and strengthening community land rights? Respecting pastoralists land rights? Are they adding any value in terms of improvement in livelihood, agricultural productivity, marketing of agricultural products, acting like a bridge between farmers, technology/technical know- how etc. At least these are some of the elements I will look at if I have to qualify the project/investment as “responsible investment”

 This is partly what the principles theoretically preach or directs the companies or those interested to invest in agricultural land to observe. In practice however this is not the case at least from some of the trends on the ground and  is largely due to the fact that companies are responsible to the state. The government on one hand is responsible to ensure investment in land is socially and equitable through enshrining the basic principles in the contracts  for companies to observe and practice. The community where the companies are active need to be equipped with land rights knowledge, so that they are aware and if there is consent from them what they should expect from the investing company apart from compensation for those who will be affected directly by paving way for investment.

Hi Dr. Uchendu, 

I would like to add a broader definition of inclusive agriculture in the context of large-scale agricultural investment as construed by Prof. Ruth Hall of PLAAS. According to her;

"Inclusive agricultural growth means avoiding big corporate takeovers of farming and value chains, and the food system as a whole, from production to retail. Rather, inclusion requires that agricultural growth helps existing farmers, traders, and others in the value chain to mitigate risk, to become more profitable and to scale up what they are doing. Inclusion cannot be only at the level of primary production. Inclusion means that family farmers must be able to access markets, by aggregating their outputs, and selling into value chains that are able to efficiently get produce to the growing numbers of urban consumers. Inclusive growth means there must be equity in ownership and income, which means that incomes from agriculture need to be reinvested to stimulate further growth in farming, in the rural non-farm economy and, through rural-urban linkages, into the urban food economy, to feed Africa’s growing and urbanizing population. Inclusive agricultural growth means that the needs of rural population must be achieved by meeting the needs of the urban population."

See :

In discussing responsible investments in land, we all have to confront the reality that moving from establishing standards to changed behaviors takes time, particularly when standards are voluntary. It will require more and different types of advocacy to build momentum on the ground, for example, to lead companies to move beyond awareness and commitment to active change in their investment policies and processes.


A few companies are now engaging land tenure expertise to help them improve their approaches to due diligence, consultation, and other key aspects of an investment lifecycle. Here at Landesa, we are working from existing guidelines to establish new tools and trainings specific to each company and relevant aspects of their supply chain and the local contexts of operation. This, we believe, is necessary for constructive change. That said, just like model contracts can lead to better practice by helping many diverse actors negotiate better agreements, we are also developing investor guidebooks for responsible investment in land and property (Tanzania, Ghana and a global template) so that each company does not have to start from scratch in many other points along the investment lifecycle. (Similar operational guidance for local civil society organization and for the public sector will also facilitate positive change.) One of the anticipated outcomes is that improved due diligence that better assesses the existing tenure situation and land governance picture should lead more companies to be willing to consider or reconsider the business model for their investments in particular locations in order to minimize disruption of local livelihoods and increase opportunities for current land users.


Still, more operational guidance can make a difference but is not a substitute for land governance improvements. For example, there is an acute need to document tenure rights in areas where investment is growing. While investors can, and in some cases are, facilitating steps toward this, such as supporting village land use planning in Tanzania, whether or not and how this facilitation can work well from the perspective of tenure security of local land users is not clear. And, by the time an investor is active, it could be already late in relation to changing tenure dynamics around investment. One of the areas that I’m interested in exploring in this discussion is whether there are good examples of company facilitated or supported land rights documentation? Can companies and civil society collaborate to advocate for land rights documentation at scale nationally as a way to close this gap?

Hello Dr. Uchendu! Thank you for your thoughts. Godfrey's comment and Mr. Baha's post (futher below) led me to wonder how effective the Kilimo Kwanza Initiative and SAGCOT have been in considering and addressing the needs of local communities. I ask becasue there is a perception in our sector that these sorts of partnerships are generally top down and as a result, don't account for needs of rural villagesrs, don't equitablly compensate them, etc. Oftentimes women and men living in rural communties are left worse off. Given this, are there any examples or best practices you could share with us from Kilimo Kwanza Initiative and SAGCOT? 

Hello Dr Adam! I couldn't agree with you more, paticularly about the importance of a company having a social license to operate within a community.  Our work together on the Responsible Investment in Property and Land Project (RIPL) has shown that it's crtical to have clear and consistent communications with communties throughout the investment lifecycle. By engaging with village leaders and village assemmply members – from pre-investment through project close out, a company will increae the liklihood of maintaining a positive relationships with the community and retaining social license.

It might also be worth sharing that the FAO Voluntary Guidelines set two standards for consultation with communities: “Consultation and Participation,” and “Free, Prior, and Informed Consent” (FPIC). Both standards require, at minimum,“[e]ngaging with and seeking the support of those who, having legitimate tenure rights, could be affected by decisions, prior to decisions being taken, and responding to their contributions; taking into consideration existing power imbalances between different parties and ensuring active, free, effective, meaningful and informed participation of individuals and groups in associated decision-making processes."


While acknowledging contributions from other discussants, one among other challenges which face responsible investment in Tanzania and many other least and developing Countries is lack of government accountability (central and local) and transparency in the investment lifecycle. Experience shows that most of investment contracts are negotiated and singed by governments with investors behind closed doors and in exclusion of community interests' agenda. On the same note, a need to clearly define the level of community consultation  to avoid concept misuse is more important. For instance, at what time a community decision is free and informed? do members understand the agenda in question or they are influenced by alluring and undocumented promises? how men and women are engaged and consulted differently? who makes the final decision for land allocation to an investor? are local institutions strengthened enough to administer powers over land?. All these issues need to be addressed at policy and implementation level to attain responsible investment in the proper sense.


Hallo Baha, 

You raised a very important point on the role of government to ensure investment in land is socially and equitable through enshrining the basic principles in the contracts  for companies to observe and practice. However the study by Stockholm Environment Institute observes that in Tanzania "the national government’s drive to encourage investors has run ahead of the capacity of local people and communities, and even the government itself, to implement the measures needed to ensure that local interests are protected, and a vastly different process is unfolding for village-led planning than the one envisaged under the TIC."

Considering that observation, what can the government do in regulating, monitoring and implementing responsible investments?

Companies – both Tanzanian and multi-national – need to become aware of the steps and approaches called for by international best practices aimed at responsible investment. The first step in gaining this awareness is to publicly make commitments to these practices. We have seen Coca Cola, Illovo Sugar, Nestle, and many others make this important move. Plus, they have committed to make their efforts apply to supply chain partners. Then companies need to become familiar with the details of the practices – consultation and engagement, impact assessment, rights identification, FPIC, fair compensation, good contracts, and accessible grievance mechanisms. Plus, the companies need to learn how to contextualize the practices to the situation on the ground. That is, what does it take to make good on the commitments in Tanzania? All of these measures will call for serious business commitment and planning – company policies, personnel, and other resources.

A big part of the challenge for any company operating in Tanzania will be mating best practices with the national governance framework and the national and local government capacity to assist or enable the company in implementing them. Sometimes best practices for socially responsible investment in land don’t easily fit within national frameworks. For example, land rights identification can be challenging under the best of circumstances. Tanzanian law provides for a specific approach that involves land use planning and certification. Sometimes this is time consuming and always calls for state resources. Companies often don’t understand the state processes and aren’t sure how to initiate them. Some businesses may seek to use one-off approaches that promise faster turn-around time and more focused efforts. These realities need to be reconciled.

In some cases the national governance framework may not mesh with best practices. Tanzania arguably offers an example of this. Under national law, a company cannot simply pay a community or individual land holder directly for a lease of land. The ground rent is directed to the government, after the land has been reclassified. This may not be the best way to ensure that fair compensation is passed along to the entity that has agreed to part with the land asset – communities and individuals. Perhaps some work is needed in this area. I’d be interested in hearing from others on their perspective on this issue.

Finally, we know that meeting best practices commitments as they relate to women land users and rights holders isn’t easy. It calls for a special and particularized emphasis on reaching women and hearing from them. Investments need to reflect this input or women may be made worse off. Most businesses will need help in this. In Tanzania, companies should look to experienced gender practitioners from both the private and civil sectors. Some Tanzanian CSOs/NGOs might have the needed expertise. Government might be a good resource here as well. Do others have specific recommendations on gender-related expertise that can be resourced in Tanzania?

The trajectory of the global land rush over the past ten years has been varied. The literature indicates that the vast majority of large-scale land deals initiated within the last decade remain unimplemented to date, and that only a meagre proportion of the millions of hectares acquired globally is currently under production

(Anseeuw et al. 2012, Cotula et al. 2014, Schönweger and Messerli 2015, Nolte, Chamberlain, and Giger 2016) . This has been the most evident in sub-Saharan Africa particularly in relation to land deals for flex crop production—including sugarcane, oil palm, jatropha, soybean, maize—specifically in Tanzania, Zambia, Ethiopia, and Mozambique (Locke and Henley 2013, Johansson et al. 2016) . In Tanzania, for example, despite the state’s ambitious goal of establishing 15 new commercial sugarcane farm deals by 2015/16 under its Big Results Now Initiative (URT 2014) , not a single one is currently up and running. The EcoEnergy Sugar Project in Bagamoyo District, which was envisioned to be among the first and the pilot case of these 15 deals, has recently folded, leaving a number of questions in its wake.

Below, I draw on my ethnographic research conducted over 18 months in Bagamoyo between 2013 and 2016 to highlight three key lessons for civil society, the Tanzanian government, and the international community regarding the principles and practices of land-based investments. My comments do not fit neatly within the three-question framework provided by the discussion facilitators, but they cut across various themes. I thank the organizers for inviting me to participate, and I hope my comments will provide some useful pointers for further discussion.   


1.      Historical complexity of land politics 

  • Boundaries often overlap and land claims/histories bleed across borders. For instance, different parts of the approximately 20,400 hectares of the land acquired by EcoEnergy are claimed by several different actors, including the Swedish investor, Ministry of Lands, Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism/Tanzanian National Parks Authority, local villagers, and urban/political elites. Grievances over land claims particularly among the local villagers have deep historical roots—from the colonial era (land annexation for the establishment of European salt and sisal estates), to the post-colonial socialist era (compulsory villagization/Operesheni Pwani and establishment of state ranches/NARCO), and to the contemporary neoliberal era (compulsory land acquisitions and increasing land speculation).
  • However, my research shows that there is a certain degree of historical amnesia among state officials at both district and national levels concerning land politics. For instance, according to the various state bureaucrats I interviewed, the history of the land acquired by EcoEnergy begins in the early 1990s and no one lived on the land prior to that; and the land has always been general land, not village land. This perspective, however, is incommensurate with the oral histories of the local elders. This historical amnesia or indifference combined with the primacy placed on rational-legal property claims has the effect of undermining villagers’ historical and customary rights to the land.
  • In saying this however, we should be careful not to homogenize all villagers as having equal and legitimate customary claims to the land. As I observed in Bagamoyo, the validity of some villagers’ claims is difficult to determine; some are abetted by special interest groups, including those allied with sugar importers or the urban middle class. At the same time, we should not jump to conclusions that giving local people land titles (CCROs) would prevent the misuse of power by state and corporate actors, and/or speculations by political elites and the urban middle class as discussed above. Social property relations vary in different places and times, and they are mediated by multiple axes of power (e.g. class, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, etc.).

2.      Gender bias in compensation and involuntary resettlement

(see Chung 2017 for issues discussed in this section) .
  • Land-based investments often require the availability of large swaths of contiguous land. Given that the vast majority of all land in Tanzania falls under the category of village land, land concessions will entail to one degree or another the enclosure of village lands and the displacement of local people, their families, and/or even entire communities. For large-scale land investments which require population displacement and which are funded by international financial institutions (IFIs)—as in the case of the EcoEnergy—project planners are required to adhere to what is known as the ‘international best practice’ on involuntary resettlement. This refers to the IFIs’ due diligence guidelines, including the International Finance Corporation’s Performance Standard 5, and the as Operational Policy on involuntary resettlement set out by the World Bank and other multilateral regional development banks (e.g. African Development Bank).
  • Despite the divergences between international guidelines and Tanzanian national laws regarding compensation, they converge on the following two aspects: a) the only assets that are considered worthy of compensation are those that have market value (i.e. those that can be bought and sold at the market, such as cash crops); and b) the unit of compensation valuation is the household, assumed to be headed by a male.
  • The first assumption ignores the cultural significance of uncommodified resources upon which the local people depend, and on which women in particular hold extensive knowledge. These include common property resources, including indigenous tree species that have multiple uses as sources of energy/fuelwood, food, medicine, building material/fiber, fodder, materials for cultural rituals, etc. While not valued in monetary terms, these resources ensure the social reproduction of local people on a daily and generational basis. Once displaced and resettled elsewhere, local people may lose their access to these resources temporarily and/or permanently.
  • Second, the male bias in the compensation valuation process reproduces patriarchal ideologies/gender stereotypes that assume men as landowners, breadwinners, and primary decision-makers within households, and women as dependents, housewives, and homemakers. Official land valuation forms, such as Form 69 and Valuation Forms 1 and 2, are often written in the names of/signed by men. This has important implications for conjugal conflicts over resource control, particularly in the case of divorce or separation.
  • More broadly, both Tanzanian national laws and international guidelines lack specific safeguards regarding the length of time people are required to wait before the actual compensation payment and involuntary resettlement. While people should be paid compensation within six months of valuation according to the national law, they often end up waiting for years and decades; re-valuations are usually not conducted in the intervening years, and the amount of compensation people receive are usually meagre in sum
    (Kironde 2009, Rwegasira 2012, and author's personal communication with a senior Ministry of Lands official, 18 August 2016) .
  • As compensation/displacement is delayed for a long time, local people are likely to incur significant costs—economically, socially, culturally, politically, psychologically, and emotionally. The issues outlined here with regards to compensation valuation/payment and involuntary resettlement should be part and parcel of policy advocacy efforts of civil society, particularly in relation to the on-going process of national land law reform.

3.      Effectiveness of the ‘public-private partnership (PPP)’ model

·         There is tremendous enthusiasm at national, regional, and international levels on PPPs as a model for large-scale land-based investments particularly in agriculture. This is reflected in policy initiatives such as the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT), Grow Africa, and the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. However for the most part, the evidence base for this enthusiasm remains thin.

·         What my research shows in Bagamoyo with regards to the EcoEnergy project (a prime example of a PPP) is that there is a significant fragmentation in the relationship between the Tanzanian state (at all levels and branches of government) and the foreign investor/company. As one senior official in the Ministry of Lands put it: the “marriage [between the Tanzanian government and EcoEnergy] is not working out” (Interview, 21 October 2015). For one, the EcoEnergy project was supposed to have been governed by the so-called ‘land for equity’ scheme, on which no policy, legal, or institutional framework currently exists (Interview with senior government officials in the Ministry of Lands, 21 October 2015; 1 August 2016; 8 August 2016).  This fragmentation and division—as manifested through numerous miscommunications, mistrust, misunderstandings, and etc.—is not only limited to the relationship between state and corporate actors, however; it extends to relationships among these actors and local people, donors, financiers, civil society organisations, and etc. This complex ‘cast of characters’ raises significant confusions among the local people, and further marginalizes them in development processes in which they are critically situated.  

  • In order to continue prioritizing PPPs as model for land-based investments in agriculture and other sectors, more in-depth and rigorous research is needed to: a) better understand the social and political dynamics that shape existing partnerships on the ground; and b) and how local people are engaged in, perceive, and experience them.




Anseeuw, Ward, Mathieu Boche, Markus Giger, Jann Lay, Peter Messerli, and Kerstin Nolte. 2012. Transnational Land Deals for Agriculture in the Global South: Analytical Report based on the Land Matrix Database. Bern, Montpellier, Hamburg: CDE, CIRAD, GIGA.

Chung, Youjin B. 2017. "Engendering the New Enclosures: Development, Involuntary Resettlement and the Struggles for Social Reproduction in Coastal Tanzania."  Development and Change 48 (1):98-120. doi: 10.1111/dech.12288.

Cotula, Lorenzo, Carlos Oya, Emmanuel A. Codjoe, Abdurehman Eid, Mark Kakraba-Ampeh, James Keeley, Admasu Lokaley Kidewa, Melissa Makwarimba, Wondwosen Michago Seide, William Ole Nasha, Richard Owusu Asare, and Matteo Rizzo. 2014. "Testing Claims about Large Land Deals in Africa: Findings from a Multi-Country Study."  The Journal of Development Studies 50 (7):903-925. doi: 10.1080/00220388.2014.901501.

Johansson, E. L., M. Fader, J. W. Seaquist, and K. A. Nicholas. 2016. "Green and blue water demand from large-scale land acquisitions in Africa."  Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1524741113.

Kironde, J. M. Lusugga. 2009. "Improving Land Sector Governance in Africa: The Case of Tanzania." Workshop on Land Governance in Support of the MDGs: Responding to New Challenges, Washington, D.C., 9-10 March.

Locke, Anna, and Giles Henley. 2013. Scoping report on biofuels projects in five developing countries. London: Overseas Development Institute.

Nolte, Kerstin, Wystke Chamberlain, and Markus Giger. 2016. International Land Deals for Agriculture: Fresh insights from the Land Matrix: Analytical Report II. Bern, Montpellier, Hamburg, Pretoria: CDE, CIRAD, GIGA, BOP.

Rwegasira, Abdon. 2012. Land as a Human Right: A History of Land Law and Practice in Tanzania. Dar es Salaam: Mkuki na Nyota Publishers.

Schönweger, Oliver, and Peter Messerli. 2015. "Land Acquisition, Investment, and Development in the Lao Coffee Sector: Successes and Failures."  Critical Asian Studies 47 (1):94-122. doi: 10.1080/14672715.2015.997095.

URT. 2014. Tanzania Development Vision 2025 Big Results Now (BRN) National Key Results Area (NKRA) Agriculture Lab. Dar es Salaam: Presidential Delivery Bureau, United Republic of Tanzania.

It is good to hear of different initiatives and experiences in addressing the question of large scale land based investment, and the work of Landesa around these issues, but guides can be developed if they are not domesticated may not yield the desirable fruits. I am worried that we are focusing much on development of new tools while even the existing ones have never been tested. I thought the best approach should be directing energy on campaigns to domesticate the voluntary guidelines like VGGT and for country like Tanzania which is a signatory to AU Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa and the 2014 AU Guiding Principles on Large Scale Land Based Investment, I see no justification as to why put aside the guides which came as a result of internal demand among African countries and at a time when as a counrty we are reviewing the National Land Policy, this is an opportunity, to translate the guides into policy and later on as a set of binding provisions spelling out responsibilities of a company,state, lines of accountability and different roles that civil society and the communities can or are supposed to play.

Again, why should an investor worry about land use plans?as a country there is a need to ensure that all land available is documented and where land is sufficient enough to accommodate investors, investment models that will ensure full participation of the community are adopted. Experience on the ground at least from documented cases show the opposite, villagers have always cried foul, feeling that they have been shortchanged etc.

What role if any can civil society play? currently different models of engagement are being explored to see if this can work, from constituting multistakeholders platforms that bring together different stakeholders from government, private sector and civil society and where possible the communities in areas targeted for investment. Can companies and civil society collaborate? the question of entry point matters and country framework, companies are more likely to work closely with the government and its institutions, whereas civil society have always played the role of sensitizing, monitoring and in some cases support community to secure their land rights through documentation. My feeling is that with the entry of multistakeholders platforms we may develop a culture where we are all accountable and open on our operations. The good example I have in mind is during the biofuel campaigns when CSOs working on land rights, conservation etc came together with companies and at some point government and where the companies involved shared the models they were employing on the ground unfortunately it was not sustainable as it stoped once the interest in biofuels shifted unto other areas.

I think different approaches can still be explored and adopted, the work on investors guidebooks but at the sametime focusing on campaigns to domesticate the VGGT and the African Union Guiding Principles together with its Framework on land policy.

Regarding the role of communities and particularly the system of village land use planning (VLUP) mentioned by dr. Sanjak and the question of its possible (but as yet unclear) benefits, it is perhaps useful to refer the participants to the results of an empirical study on VLUP in Tanzania by dr. Chris Huggins. Analysing a sample of five villages, out of 13 that have completed a VLUP process, he came to mixed conclusions: "In some cases, VLUP has catalyzed villages to have functioning village land committees which resolve disputes and encourage particular forms of environmental management", but "it does not appear that VLUP necessarily represents a way to provide villagers with sufficient control over decision-making over large-scale land acquisition".

The details are to be found in a research brief (March 2016) from LANDac

Submitted by Godfrey Massay on Mon, 06/19/2017 - 17:25


Dear Discussants,

We wish to relay our appreciation for the wonderful discussion we had over the previous two weeks. It was a very fruitful conversation, with valuable contributions from varying geographies and sectors.  A good number of people provided their expertise and insights to ensure we attained to our intended goals for the dialogue.

Building from last week’s summary report, we would like to close the ‘debate’ by highlighting some additional key issues that emerged:

  • Regarding Village Land Use Planning (VLUP), there were inquiries into the feasibilities as well as liabilities of companies conducting village land use plans. We heard from our discussants that there are ongoing concerns about companies taking on this role, largely due to conflicts of interest. This is further complicated by the difficulties, as noted elsewhere in the conversation, for companies to fully grasp the complexities of land use, access, and ownership. Still, government seems to be endorsing this process, at least in some areas. Questions remain around how to ensure protection of local community interests and avoid biased processes, while not halting the process altogether.
  • An important point about transparency in the investment contractual process was raised. OpenLandContracts, developed by the Columbia Center for Sustainable Investment (CCSI), was highlighted as one effort to increase transparency through the establishment of an online repository of publicly available investor – state land contracts and associated documents. One of the challenges, though, is the extent to which governments willingly participate and make such contracts publicly available on a regular basis, or as a matter of law or policy, including the government of Tanzania.
  • Strengthening land investment policies and regulations, especially through the ongoing National Land Policy review process, is important to ensure responsible investments. A need to put legal guarantee for resettlement and rehabilitation assistance to reconstruct livelihoods of victims affected by compulsory acquisition and displacement, for example, is one necessary component. Adopting gender sensitive models and including relevant accountability mechanisms to facilitate gender equity is another necessary step.
  • Establishment and strengthening of platforms can enrich productive and healthy dialogues and improve transparency and accountability. In Tanzania, this includes the Women’s Rights and Leadership Forums (WRLF), the District Multi-Stakeholder Forums (DMF), the Tanzania Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (TEITI), farmer-pastoralist platforms, etc. Generally, decentralization of these kinds of platforms is encouraged to include grassroots experiences and voices. However, without good facilitation and restraint, these platforms can become a conduit for exacerbating struggles amongst members at the expense of constructive and productive dialogue and coordination.  
  • On the role of CSOs and media, discussants continued to emphasize their importance in the investment process. CSOs, especially, can provide important technical expertise and support to communities, offering information and tools to make them more equitable business partners. They can serve important brokering and monitoring roles. However, CSOs are advised to be especially thoughtful about their engagement strategies with stakeholders, as some levels or types of activism can have counter productive effects.
  • Importantly, having guides for investment that are context specific may be especially helpful to secure community interests, improve bargaining powers and enhance community participation.
  • Finally, it is important and valuable for all of us to take lessons from previous failed investments for necessary changes as we move, or ‘fail’ forward. In this regard, we very much appreciate the tenor of honesty throughout this discussion

These are just a few highlights among the many valuable insights that were provided on responsible investments in land, bringing to the fore some of the practical realities faced in the Tanzanian context. As the organizers, it has been our pleasure to have your participation in the debate over the past two weeks. Personally, we have learned a lot and take note of the advice and suggestions provided as we move forward in our own work. For everyone, we hope and expect that these conversations will continue, and that we will continue to learn from one another and find ways for constructive and collaborative solutions as we go forward.

Kind regards,

Godfrey and Lukasz

Submitted by Marcel Madubi on Fri, 06/16/2017 - 22:09


CSOs has a role to leverage community-driven development investments with its partners (Dialogues and negotiations, CB on legal and contractual matters, Business-Analysis of profitable ventures vs risks); hence meaningful partnership; advocate with and for the poor. –widen the impact in terms of scope, space and sustainability. How can we create partnership between CSOs and the state as opposed to working on their own or in opposition?; CSOs can also provide access to the local level, bring in-depth on-the-ground knowledge, and build on trust they have already established with communities at the grassroots level for provision of technical guidance for rational decision prior engaging into partnership with investors. Communities and civil society are critical partners for achieving effective investments;

For instance, at the local level, dialogue mechanisms between CSOs and local authorities should be promoted, as they guarantee useful entry points for inclusivity and responsible land investments. In democratic systems CSOs can contribute to nurturing respect for the rule of law by monitoring effective implementation of laws and policies and they can initiate and support anti-corruption efforts.

CSOs can play a pivotal role in empowering community/citizens on technical aspects including negotiations and dialogues

Can also play the role of enhancing state capacity and ensure effectiveness, accountability and responsiveness on land administration

They can also play the role in brokering space for an expanded negotiations between communities, investors and the state 

Submitted by Marcel Madubi on Fri, 06/16/2017 - 22:04


Apart from empowering citizens on various technical aspects including dielogues and negotiation  skills, undestanding of contractual terms and legal implications; they also help in brokering a space for expanded negotiations between investors, the state and communities

Can aslo help in making the state and investors accountable and ensure responsiveness and effectiveness

am not sure if there is a monitoring mechnism and specific indicators for tracking the extent at which community benefit and fulfiment of the investors obligations

Submitted by adam_nyaruhuma on Tue, 11/21/2023 - 13:37


This I am sure is not the way to go. If it works by chance in one village, that is fine, but for sure it will buckfire in another village and the concequences will be far reaching. Sorry but to put it in a blunt way,  if you ask an accused criminal to pay for his trial, just because the state has no resources, expect the worst from him if he fails the case. Or expect the judge will not be impartial

Submitted by adam_nyaruhuma on Tue, 11/21/2023 - 13:37


Dear Mary,

You have expressed concerns very well. I am sure the next iteration of the draft will be better refined to take stakeholders conserns.

Submitted by Zakaria Faustin on Tue, 11/21/2023 - 13:37


Godfrey, you asked valid Question,

This is a new idea that needs further research. I witnessed good practices that build my case. We have best practices in most of the pastoral villages. A good one is Minjingu in Babati district. Most investors camps surround Tarangire Nation Park established regular meetings with investors and other stakeholders where matters affect them are discussed openly. Once the land disputes arised they make consensus with villagers in their regular meeting between Conservation Authority, Investors and villagers, and were successful.

What we have now  in law, lead to most land use conflict between  investors and villagers took up to ten years in Court process, which is expensive, time consuming, and jeopardize investment processes, eg In Babati district, in Ayamango village, the investor collaborated with other people (44) and they made a case on 637 acres of grazing land, and they took to high court and villagers won the case in 2015 after 10 years! If such mechanism were in place, mediation and decision could be taken within less time. This is possible through having the kind of bodies with Tanzania Investment Act allows or formallize or require investor to have such inbuilt mechanism.  

Submitted by Godfrey Massay on Tue, 11/21/2023 - 13:37

In reply to by Zakaria Faustin


This is very interesting concept/idea Zakaria. I know institutuions such as the World Bank (Inspection Panel) and the IMF (CAO) have redress/grievance/complaint/recourse mechanism. They developed such a mechanism to protect communities that might be affected by projects they fund. Would you mind explaining how will companies/investors independently, fairly and without bias develop and implement such a mechanism?