Tanzania’s youth population (defined as women and men between the ages of 15 and 35) constitutes about 35% of the country’s population. In Tanzania, youth engagement in agriculture is considered vital, given that youth form the largest part of the population and labour force in the country. However, effective youth engagement in agriculture and youth economic empowerment is constrained by extreme poverty resulting from high unemployment rates; inadequate access to land; and limited youth participation in decision-making processes that affect their lives, including within the agriculture sector.
In the last decade, the African Union started continental conversations on sustaining youth interests in agriculture, including efforts to ensure youth access to land. Because youth constitute the majority of the population across Africa, investing in youth access to land is recognized as a key strategy for both economic and agricultural development. A number of countries have embraced this strategy, with Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania among several countries advancing efforts to improve youth land rights.
In May 2018, I attended a meeting with the Parliamentary Committee on Land, Natural Resources and Tourism co-convened by Landesa and other civil society organizations working on land rights in Tanzania. During the meeting, the Hon. Nape Moses Nnauye called upon civil society organizations to address youth land rights challenges. This call would later inform Landesa Tanzania’s three-year strategic plan (2019-2021), which included youth land rights as a key strategic area.
Since that time, Landesa Tanzania has become a leading advocate for youth land rights in Tanzania.
Since 2018, Landesa Tanzania has conducted a youth land rights assessment, published a policy brief on youth land rights, published two blogs on youth land rights, developed a training manual on youth land rights, and built the capacity of over 1,000 youth on land rights.
Most recently, Landesa Tanzania, in collaboration with PELUM Tanzania and Mufindi District Council, supported land use planning and the issuance of Certificates of Customary Rights of Occupancy (CCROs) in two villages of Ikongosi and Ikongosi Juu. A total of 2,128 CCROs were issued in which 1,000 (47%) women and 409 (19%) youth benefited respectively.
Now more than ever, there is momentum and opportunity to advance youth land rights in Tanzania. The government of Tanzania has recently developed and launched a strategy to engage youth in agriculture called Building a Better Tomorrow: Youth Initiative for Agribusinesses. The Ministry of Agriculture has identified poor access to land as one of the challenges affecting youth, which the strategy is set to address.
To tap the potential of the country’s agriculture sector, in July 2022 the Ministry of Agriculture launched the largest block farm (11,453 acres) in Dodoma, anticipated to generate more employment opportunities for youth through access to land. Two additional farms with 3,560 acres and 8,000 acres respectively are expected to be launched in Dodoma soon, and many other regions in the country will follow.
The Ministry of Lands will be implementing a “Land Tenure Improvement Program” with $150 million in funding from the World Bank over the next five years. This project will, among other things, support the issuance of one million Certificates of Right of Occupancy, 500,000 Certificates of Customary Right of Occupancy for those living in customary lands, and one million Residential Licenses in approximately 40 districts.
The ongoing efforts from both the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Lands provide opportunities to advance youth land rights over the next five years, and Landesa Tanzania will continue to advocate strongly and build further upon this momentum. We plan to double the number of youth trained on their land rights in regions where the Government is planning to establish block farms, monitor youth block farms to generate lessons and policy actions for government engagement, conduct research on youth land rights, including their engagement in agricultural value chains, and share experiences with other youth land rights programs across Africa and around the globe. Our intervention will impact 1 million youth – a significant contribution to helping make a positive impact for the 16 million youth who live in Tanzania.
Godfrey Massay is Program Director of Landesa Tanzania.