Large-scale land acquisition projects by foreign investors, also known as “land grabbing,” raise difficult questions about the processes of valuing land in Sub-Saharan Africa that the current literature does not sufficiently explore. Land acquisitions can help developing countries like Tanzania achieve their economic and development goals. Nonetheless, it can also threaten local livelihoods and well-being due to displacement, lack of access to natural capital, and conflicts between land users. Empirical evidence is limited on how local contexts affect the recognition and incorporation of multiple values that people hold about land into decisions on land acquisition projects in Tanzania. Plural valuation (PV) is needed to design more comprehensive and deliberative policy instruments that enhance nature’s contributions to people. This empirical study uses sociocultural valuation approaches to assess the diverse values of land in the Bagamoyo district of Tanzania, impacts of EcoEnergy land acquisition project on local livelihoods, and contextual factors that enable or hinder incorporating PV into decisions. The findings suggest that synergies and conflicting values of land exist, and PV can serve as a negotiation support tool to reconcile the differences and land conflicts. The success of PV relies on the (1) extent of partnership and participation, (2) design of asset valuation process, (3) stakeholder goals, and (4) sociopolitical context. Currently, the risks of land acquisition projects outweigh the benefits to people in rural Tanzania. However, to realize the sustainable and equitable flow of the contributions of land to Tanzanians, the government should consider improving the valuation processes by (i) fostering recognition of neglected voices and marginalized people, (ii) rectifying power imbalances and injustices that result from current land valuation processes, (iii) reinforcing customary land rights and compensation policies, and (iv) adhering to the principle of free, prior, and informed consent.
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