As a Swahili speaker from Tanzania, I have not often had the opportunity to meet or work with people from remote Maasai communities. However, I recently visited the villages of Naisinyai and Mundarara in the north of the country as part of a global research project on women’s land rights in pastoral communities affected by mining (the WOLTS project).
I write this blog as our project team embarks on a fifth year of work on women’s land tenure security (WOLTS) with pastoral communities in mining-affected areas of Mongolia and Tanzania. Just before Christmas 2019, we were in Mundarara village in northern Tanzania. Exceptionally heavy rains made getting around much more challenging than usual. Locals travelling on foot had to make wide detours to avoid getting bogged down in waterlogged grazing land, and it took everyone much longer to get to the village primary school for our long-planned training day.
Matito Leruso was born and raised in the herding community of Lengurma in Isiolo County. Communal grazing land has been central to her community’s livelihood, wellbeing, and identity for generations, but they have never had their legal rights to govern it recognized. None of Kenya’s thousands of pastoralist communities have. This changed in 2016, with the passage of the Community Land Act. Since then, Matito has joined other residents of Lengurma in working to understand, use and shape the new law to ensure that their community land rights are respected and upheld.
A conversation with Julie Maldonado, Associate Director at Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network (LiKEN), and Co-Director of Rising Voices: Climate Resilience through Indigenous and Earth Sciences.
This is the second interview in our Climate Crisis, Global Land Use, and Human Rights Interview Series. See the first here.
Banks must stand with Indigenous and local communities in respecting their land rights
In 2018, every week more than three people were murdered, defending their land and environment from destructive industries like mining, logging and agribusiness. These killings represent the extreme end of a spectrum of violence and threats directed at land rights defenders.
The climate crisis will reshape our relationships to land around the world. Journalist David Wallace-Wells warns that, once the planet warms 2°C above preindustrial levels — the target set by the Paris Agreement — “major cities in the equatorial band of the planet will become unlivable,” and 400 million more people will suffer from regional water scarcity.
In the past decade, significant international attention focused on “land grabs” in developing countries by companies and others hungry for land to grow food and procure resources for the world’s growing population.
The ‘age of ignorance’
For a long time land governance, land tenure and land rights remained in the ‘age of ignorance’. We have known for some time that land governance is a key ingredient for social, economic and environmental development; what was missing, however, was the data. With the little information available to us at the time, we set priorities and crafted interventions for our course of work. Relying on a few rough figures meant that we were often repeating mantras and slogans based on loose, rather than on hard and reliable facts. Most notable among these was the often repeated and now widely disputed, “women own 2% of the world’s land”.
Across the globe, indigenous and rural women make invaluable contributions to their communities and toward global sustainable development and climate goals. They use, manage, and conserve the community territories that comprise over 50 percent of the world’s land and support up to 2.5 billion people.
This year's Goldman Environmental Prize winner says the battle for land rights in Liberia is just getting underway. Alfred Brownell is the recipient of the 2019 Goldman Environmental Prize and founder of Green Advocates an NGO and academic at Northeastern University School of Law
This week, more than 1,500 development professionals from around the world are gathering at the World Bank’s annual Land and Poverty Conference, discussing the latest research and innovations in policies and good practice on land governance.