Preview of land sector performance in Tanzania

Prelude: Recently a publication on the development of the land sector in Tanzania was presented at a joint conference by the Commonwealth Association of Surveying and Land Economy (CASLE) and the African Real Estate Society (AfRES) in Livingstone, Zambia.
The publication documents the historical development of the sector in four phases since independence, categorised as depression, awakening, consolidation and drive to maturity periods for convenience of interpretation and analysis.

The paper in reference was written by Prof. Fidelis Mtatifikolo, of the University of Dar Es Salaam, and Dr Furaha Lugoe of Topo-Carto Consultants Ltd dwelt more on the last three.

This paper attempts to shed some light on the first of the lot that can, historically, be placed in a twenty-five year period prior to the passing of the national land policy (NLP).

The causes and effects of the depression period of the lands sector of Tanzania, unfortunately, still overwhelm land delivery and development.

Just as the latter periods were unveiled by examining the causes and effect of processes of the preceding years, the period under focus should start by looking back into history, lest we forget to learn the lessons that are much needed, to ensure that same mistakes are not repeated.

An Encumbered Sector:The performance of the lands sector in Tanzania has been evolving gradually.

Exogenous, but mostly foreign, forces established and dictated the policy and legal frameworks for a period of about a century.

This fact is revealed in another paper prepared and presented to the same venue by Dr. Lugoe and has recently been a subject of a seven part feature article that appeared in the Guardian Newspaper published in Dar Es Salaam from June this year.

The paper series reveal that at times, the policies and laws regulating the sector were regressively focused on supporting predominantly political ends.

Socio-economic goals took a back seat and when considered, the focus remained on foreign interests.

Such dispensation prevailed well into independence and lingered-on for another thirty or so years.

The series argue therefore that a better sector performance was most desirable after it became abundantly clear that the frameworks regulating the sector were not yielding the kind of results expected by the nation and its people.

Some regressive and undesirable indicators of the post-independence land tenure dispensation include an increase in rural and urban land-use conflicts and tenure disputes in all Regions of Tanzania mainland.

The situation could not be salvaged by amendments to existing laws and politically guided policies that spilled into a national outcry in the decade of the 1980s.

A totally new land policy, legal mechanism and land delivery strategy was the only way out of the quagmire.

When all this was happening, the land administration system was almost incapacitated and could not pick up the crumbs.

The depression of the land administration system was itself a depression of the sector that was ill directed.

The causes of depression were also therefore embedded in the level of attention that the lands sector received in economic planning and budgeting considerations.

A serious re-examination of the lands sector was deemed necessary and a torque for change was then initiated by the setting-up of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters in 1992.

People Guided Policies:
The Presidential Commission elected to give the land-users a chance to participate in choosing policy options, on land tenure in a series of consultative meetings conducted in 1992, countrywide.

The result and momentum of the participatory processes of the inquiry, the commission's report, and the national workshop that ended the processes, have changed the course of land tenure and land administration's history in Tanzania for the better.

It is out of these processes that a framework of nationally bred and owned land policy, laws, strategies and programmes have evolved.

These structures include:
(i) the land policy of 1995,
(ii) the new land laws of 1999 and land disputes courts law of 2002,
(iii) a national settlements development policy of 2002,
(iv) a 10-year national housing development programme of 2002, and
(v) a strategic plan for the implementation of the new land laws (SPILL) of 2005.

This set of documents constitutes the framework that now guides lands sector operations, instead of the old colonial frame.

Developments are also underway to review, amend, harmonise and legislate policy and laws in the sub sectors (mapping, surveys, land-use planning, land registration, human settlements, etc) for better governance within a broader sector framework.

The new regulatory framework of the sector stands to be tested against performance in view of gains made, when compared with those of the old dispensation.

In particular, expectations run high as to the resolution of sector problems prevailing in the depression period.

It is therefore important to know the existing state of the sector that the new framework seeks to reverse and improve as highlighted hereunder.

The Legacy Re-iterated:
The legacy of the depression years is summarized, by SPILL, as 'the inability of the land ordinance of 1923 to change conditions of land tenure and land use in Tanzania after it attained its independence in 1961'.

People's expectations on land administration as undertaken by the sector are high particularly with regard to:
(i) streamlining land delivery;
(ii) enhancing the security of land tenure;
(iii) encouraging the optimal use of land and its natural resources; and
(iv) facilitating a broad based socio-economic development within a carefully balanced ecological balance.

Further, in the depression years, the lands sector, was grossly overburdened by a series of sector and across-sector and national challenges that hindered land management in the interest of economic growth and reduction of poverty.

These challenges have, of late, been a subject of scrutiny and analysis by experts in land administration and land policy analysis.

A study of the causative factors to the underperformance of Tanzania's lands sector in the years under review, has been undertaken in context of several studies including the public expenditure review (PER) studies undertaken from 2000 to 2005.

The studies were aimed at informing the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) and the budgets for the subsequent years from 2000/01 to 2000/04.

An extensive study, involving wider stakeholder participation, was done in the context of SPILL formulation in 2004/2005.

The study involved consultations in over 60 villages, 15 Districts, 13 Regions covering the three levels of Local Government in all major agro-economic zones of Tanzania.

They were also conducted in several Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the central Government and within the civil society organisations.

This study has been followed up by a more recent one conducted with a purpose of identifying, analysing and costing sector needs of relevance to the national strategy for growth and reduction of poverty (NSGRP) or MKUKUTA in 2006.

These two recent studies agreed with the earlier agreed challenges of the lands sector, for ease of identifying interventions, action plans, solutions and also for planning finance strategy for the identified activities.

The four identified groups of challenges that are endemic in the lands sector, namely the systemic, exogenous, policy-derived and financially constrained challenges. These groups are:

Problems reflecting continual application of policies and regulations of the past in land administration practice.

These include:
(i) lingering dispensation for villagisation approaches of the 1970s;
(ii) gender imbalance embedded in inheritance laws;
(iii) poor enforcement of law and order;
(iv) poor enforcement of land regulations and control of developments; and
(v) some urbanization and housing policies of the past.

Forces originating outside of the capacity of the lands sector or not unique to it, including national and global forces.

These include:
(i) uncontrolled urbanization particularly in an inflationary and poverty stricken economy;
(ii) population movement and shift to the eastern coastal areas;
(iii) rural-urban migration particularly to primate cities;
(iv) urban sprawl and lagging urban infrastructure;
(v) corruption; and
(vi) the development of spontaneous settlements.

Policy Derived:
Problems of limited and weak capacity for policy analysis and planning capacity leading to weak, non comprehensive and non-sustainable planning.

In this group are problems of:
(i) inefficiency and stagnation in land delivery;
(ii) poor enforcement of planning and building regulations;
(iii) skilled manpower retrenchments;
(iv) unregulated land markets;
(v) incomplete empowerment of dispute settlement machinery; and
(vi) the weak enforcement of law and order.

Financial Resource Constraints:
These are problems associated with gross under-funding of sector activities over a prolonged period in spite of the fact that the objectives are well known and understood.

Included in this category are problems on the near freeze of:
(i) topographical or base mapping and associated geo-referencing system;
(ii) land use planning and urban design services;
(iii) stagnation in cadastral survey systems;
(iv) incomplete boundary survey and lot adjudications in villages;
(v) a run-down land administration infrastructure institutions;
(vi) proliferation of irregular settlements; and,
(vii) poorly facilitated law enforcement institutions.

Challenges identified in the four groupings are evolutionary, cumulative and regressive in character.

Some challenges cut across cluster boundaries but many others are unique to one group each.

A detailed discussion of each of the categories or clusters of lands sector problems is the essence of the subsequent discussion.

This study paper was researched, developed and prepared by Dr. F. N. Lugoe for the Dar Es Salaam Institute of Land Administration and Policy Studies, DILAPS.

Source: Guardian - By Dr. Furaha Lugoe