We believe that everyone deserves equal rights to economic resources and that financial independence is paramount to ending the cycle of poverty. In northern Tanzania, pastoralist communities, including the Maasai and Hadzabe, continue to be forced off their lands to make way for national parks, game reserves, sports hunting, mining etc. Pastoralist women and girls are routinely denied the right to own land, property or the means of production… and hence the means of income generation.
Our strategic plan (2017-2022) details the part we can play in delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals in relation to increasing prosperity for all. Improved access to communal grazing and economic empowerment of women via microfinance schemes are critical to our work in building the livelihoods and resilience of marginalised communities.
NEW: Improving Community Resilience for Pastoralists through Land Rights and Gender Equality
In northern Tanzania, we have just started work with our long-standing partner, the Ujaama Community Resource Team (UCRT), on a new three-year project designed to improve community resilience for pastoralists through land rights and gender equality. The project will secure land for pastoralist communities through Customary Certificates for Right of Occupancy, allowing communal land ownership to be legally recognised. It will also raise awareness of a woman’s right to own land and livestock, and to participate in decision-making. In addition, this project will provide access to village community bank schemes to enhance women’s economic power and self-esteem, and to empower women as agents for change. This is a £250,000 project funded by UK aid from the UK government. Read more about this project here.
NEW: Disability Inclusion in Village Community Banking
Thanks to an award of £180,000 from the Big Lottery Fund, work is underway on a two-year project to bring economic empowerment to disadvantaged women in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania. We will be partnering with the Tusonge Community Development Organization (Tusonge means ‘Let’s advance’ in Swahili). Together, we will establish village community banks and deliver vocational, business and financial management training to women suffering extreme gender inequality – in particular, those living with a disability and others surviving on less than 75 pence a day. The project will enable women to start their own businesses and to enjoy a more dignified way of living. In addition, the project will raise awareness of women’s rights and understanding of disability rights. Read more about this new project here.
NEW & ONGOING: Increasing Economic Opportunities for Women
We believe the long-term success of our women’s rights work is dependent on women’s economic empowerment via microfinance schemes. It is the reason we are expanding our work in this area. In addition to our work with UCRT and Tusonge outlined above, we are also working on a new project with the Tanzania Women Research Foundation (TAWREF) to improve economic opportunities via VICOBA schemes as a means of addressing the core drivers of high-risk sexual behaviour among female sex workers, people living with HIV and other vulnerable groups. Read more about this new project here. Via our long-term partner, the Pastoral Women’s Council, we are also supporting Maasai VICOBA groups to improve household livelihoods via collective cattle rearing and the setting up of small businesses.
IMPACT: Empowering Pastoralists to Secure their Land Rights
African Initiatives and UCRT have a strong track record of securing land rights for marginalised communities. As a result of our ‘Empowering Pastoralists to Secure their Land Rights’ project (2012-2015), we succeeded in securing land rights for 27,300 people over 6,914 sq km in eight villages in Simanjiro district alone. The project also served to improve rangeland management through participatory land use planning processes and increased prospects for accessing credit finance using land as collateral. Women played a key role in mobilising the community to access their right to land. Read the independent, end-of-project evaluation report here.
VIDEO: Watch Edward Louré from UCRT talking about land rights in his acceptance speech after winning the 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize in the video below…