Community Economic Development and Social Transformation (CEDESOTA) has been able to conduct a Women’s Right to Own Land intervention in five wards in Arumeru District. The wards include; Leguruki, King’ori and Malula, Marori, Makiba and Mbugani in 26 villages.
CEDESOTA conducted awareness campaigns and trainings for community members encouraging Meru women to own land to achieve economic development and financial freedom.
Even when the Tanzanian law provides that women can own land, customs and traditions require women to give up their claims to land, and in some cases their inheritance in favor of male relatives.
CEDESOTA Executive Director, Jackson Muro, says the main objective of their intervention is to advocate and provide awareness trainings to Meru community and women in particular so that they become aware of their right to own land and obtain Customary Certificate of Right of Occupancy (CCRO)
“We hold different meetings and debates whereby women from the six wards where we work are involved. During the meeting , women hear stories from other women who own land and have been able to benefit from the natural resource, so that they learn, get empowered, fight for their right to own land and stand up for other women in their communities who might face challenges in accessing and owning land.” He says.
He adds that prior to the implementation of CEDESOTA intervention, women faced a lot of huddles in owning land. Women were not allowed to own land in the Meru community, but through CEDESOTA training and awareness campaigns to communities, there are changes in communities. According to Frank Kaaya, a traditional elder 11 women in Maroroni Ward own land.
Traditional Elders attitude change
“As men in the Meru community, we observed traditions which undermined women and girls. Because of our traditions, Women did not own family land and wealth. Things are looking up however and change has begun to take place after various interventions conducted by different stakeholders, including CEDESOTA. We have changed our stance and fully involve women and girls when it comes to the division of family property,” says Jackson Sumari, a traditional elder from Arumeru District, Arusha Region.
“Some of the traditional elders now recognize that all land belongs to the Government, therefore, has reduced the number of land disputes in the area as people know that the government has the final say in all land matters,” adds Mr. Kaaya.
LGAs supporting Women Land ownership
The Local Government in Arumeru District recognizes the role of NGOs in contributing to the people’s development initiatives, admitting that CEDESOTA intervention and other projects being implemented in the district, have helped them as leaders, to reduce the time spent on settling land disputes.
“The situation is improving now as the society has started changing after the realization that both men and women have equal l rights and access to wealth and property ownership including land. The people also now know, that the Government is the main owner of all land,” says Veronica Patrick Mafulu, the Land Officer, Meru District Council.
Ms Ndekusura Urio, Kimororoni Ward Chairperson, is one of the women who received training from CEDESOTA.
“In my ward, 8 women have already sent their land title applications to the authorities, 7 have obtained their titles this is a success story. 10 others have built houses as part of their economic empowerment.
Women Land Forum: a Platform to amplify women Voices
Lillian Pallangyo, being one of the beneficiaries of the project, says the awareness and trainings from CEDESOTA has resulted in the formation of Women Land Forums in each village, and that through such forums, women meet and discuss different issues—including land as a channel towards economic empowerment.
Besides the success achieved through this project, CEDESOTA Director, Jackson Muro, lists some of the challenges they faced while implementing the project. They included:-
· Attitudes and Cultural perceptions: tradition and practices of the community—make it difficult to convince some members in the communities to change their attitudes towards women land ownership as they are used to the status quo of their treatment of women
· Low understanding of gender equality issues among community elders: Low understanding of different issues among community elders such as equality in land rights
· Increase the number of land disputes:There is an Increase in the number of land disputes after receiving awareness trainings on law related issues
· Expensive procedures in accessing landtitle: High costs of obtaining land titles thus making it difficult for some women to access the land titles.
FCS interventions are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals that call for ending all forms of poverty and achieve gender equality through improved access to and rights over land for women.