Land and Investment


Land conflicts are not new to Tanzania.  However economic growth and development strategies, the land law reforms and a renewed focus on formalisation of land ownership appear to be combining to intensify existing disputes and create additional disputes including those between investors and existing land holders/users.

In 2011 the Tanzania Natural Resource Forum (TNRF) in partnership with Research on Poverty Alleviation (REPOA) and the International Institute on Environment and Development (IIED) commissioned a scoping study to assess the appetite for and the imperative/timeliness to initiate a multi-stakeholder dialogue on land conflict issues with a particular focus on those associated with land-based investments.  The intention of a multi-stakeholder dialogue being to provide a platform for sharing a common appreciation and understanding of the underlying dynamics and to prompt action to find a way for land-based investment to support equitable and sustainable development in Tanzania.

In early 2012 the result of the scoping study on land based investments were shared at a national workshop that brought together key stakeholders, including government representatives, academia and civil society.  From the report findings through to the workshop discussions and debates there was a clear consensus that there is an urgent need to understand, address and find solutions to conflicts arising from land based investments in Tanzania.  There was also consensus amongst stakeholders that a multi-stakeholder dialogue was needed to bring about positive change and that three key areas must be central to any discussions on land and investment:

  1. Communities need security of land tenure if their livelihoods and their natural resource assets are not to be adversely affected by land based investments;
  2. Governance of land, natural resources and investment activities must be strengthened; and
  3. Tanzania should only seek quality foreign investments that contribute to growth and development of the nation.

Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue

There is a growing body of research, commentary and media reports documenting concerns over increasing levels of conflict associated with land based investments in Tanzania.  The dynamics underlying these conflicts are diverse and range from policies, growth and development strategies and legislative frameworks that undermine rather than protect communities’ land and resource tenure security; through to weaknesses in the governance of administration of land and natural resources and investment environments that deter rather than encourage responsible economic activity by investors.

It is anticipated that if the dynamics behind these conflicts are not fully understood and resolved, there is the potential for such conflicts to escalate in the face of growing pressure for access to land based resources by investors; local, regional and foreign. 

From community, civil society, government to investors, a broad range of stakeholders have expressed strong concern over the current unstable situation.  These stakeholders are prepared to engage in dialogue, bringing together the various interests in land and address emerging conflicts to find a suitable way forward.

TNRF and partners are already beginning working together to ensure that a broad range of stakeholders are involved in discussions on land and investment.

Legal Tools

Recognizing the potential of natural resources in Tanzania, the government has opened its door for investments in different sectors, most notably for food production, biofuel development, mining and tourism.  Investments in these sectors offer a range of potential opportunities for the country, including significant contributions to the national economy that could benefit livelihoods, reduce poverty and even improve conservation initiatives.  However, such benefits are contingent on there being sound policies in place and strong governance systems that support the implementation of these policies.  Currently, the land and investment legal environment in Tanzania is one that offers a lot of potential benefits and security to communities and the country as a whole.  However, there remain policies that are either unclear, contradictory or are not well harmonized with other policies, which has led to misinterpretations of laws and an unfavorable land and investment environment in Tanzania.

Ultimately, it’s the small-scale landholders and local communities that depend on their surrounding natural resources for their livelihoods. And it is these stakeholders that are being harmed by these unclear and cumbersome natural resource policies and laws.  These stakeholders should have access to information regarding the challenges and problems with the existing laws and policies that guide land and investment procedures in Tanzania.  They, along with other key influencers, need to identify where the problems exist and how to go about changing those problems for the better.  Further, without knowing and understanding the existing laws in place, these small-scale landholders are vulnerable to losing access to these resources, while also losing out on potential investment opportunities, especially as small-scale investors themselves. 

Objectives of program:

1. Laws and policies are broken down into readily accessible language that is understandable and straight forward to average citizens.

2.  Information on land and investment laws and policies is available for influencers (eg. NGOs, LGAs, media) as well as the general public so that awareness is raised about the challenges and opportunities about the policies in place.

3. The media is well informed about the status of land and investment laws and policies in Tanzania, and they are using this information to inform national audiences.

More information on Land