Solving land use challenges in Tanzania – Innovative village land use planning methods supported by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

Salla Eilola and Andrew Ferdinands

Land is one of the major conflict issues in most African countries. In Tanzania, the high population growth rate coupled with concerns on climate change puts an extra pressure on land use sustainability. As a means to reconcile socioeconomic development, land justice and nature conservation, land use planning has been put high on the country’s agenda. Currently, however, less than 15 % of Tanzania's 12,000 villages have land use plans and there is a need for technological advancement to speed up planning process without undermining the quality of the plans. To answer this challenge, Private Forestry Programme (PFP), supported by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, and the University of Turku in Finland have developed a Practitioners’ Manual on participatory mapping and planning tools for the village land use planning in collaboration with the National Land Use Planning Commission of Tanzania.

As the manual focuses on participatory methods, also the development process has been collaborative. In April, the developers of the manual organized a three-day stakeholder workshop in Morogoro that gathered together over 40 key land use planning actors in the country, among them academia, authorities and NGOs. The manual received very positive response, and the participants expect eagerly to receive their own printed copy of the finalized manual. The workshop was also an inspiring forum for sharing experiences on the use of simple, yet powerful spatial technologies that can support active community engagement and production of high quality land use plans at village level.

Copyright: Studio 19
The Director General, Dr. Stephen Nindi, of the National Land Use Planning Commission addressing the stakeholder workshop participants.

This joint effort to develop participatory mapping tools that utilize satellite imagery began in 2015. The Embassy of Finland in Dar es Salaam brought the PFP and the University of Turku together to address limitations in the existing village land use planning process. As part of PFP’s activities, 55 village land use plans have been developed in 10 different districts in the Morogoro, Iringa, Njombe and Ruvuma regions. Collaboration with the University of Turku turned out to be very fruitful and introduced several innovative, yet practical tools for land use planning in rural Tanzania. To extend their knowhow and gain more adept human resources, the PFP and the University of Turku brought in an Iringa-based NGO – RLabs Iringa. Their vast experience in active community facilitation gave the development team a great joined knowledge base.

Equipped with these new tools – the use of satellite image printouts and increased open discussions among villagers – the team has been able to raise not only the accuracy of land use mapping, but also the spatial understanding and transparency of decision-making during the village land use planning process. These advantages were recognized by the National land Use Planning Commission and collaboration to write the Practitioner’s Manual on the use of these tools started in 2017. The Practitioner’s Manual is expected to be ready by the end of 2018. It will become an official annex to the national Revised Guidelines for Participatory Village Land Use Planning, Administration and Management of Tanzania.

By publishing the manual, village land use planning practitioners in Tanzania can take advantage of the tools and be inspired to adapt them into their everyday planning. The long-term aim with the tools is to foster local democracy and inclusive decision-making at village level, which will hopefully transform rural economies into a more sustainable path.

Copyright: Salla Eilola
The new mapping and planning tools will be featured on a short documentary filmed by Studio 19.

About the Private Forestry Programme (PFP)

The Private Forestry Programme (PFP) supports private forest ownership, particularly the establishment and management of plantations by smallholders, as well as the wood industry and the development of timber markets that would benefit all stakeholders. The programme operates in four regions: Iringa, Njombe, Morogoro and Ruvuma. The Programme is coordinated by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism of Tanzania and supported by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. to another website.) (Opens New Window)

About the Tanzania research team of University of Turku

The multidisciplinary research team has been working in Tanzania since 2003. The research focuses on livelihood strategies, environmental change and participatory geographical information systems solutions to planning and monitoring. The team consists of researchers from the Department of Geography and Geology and Department of Future Technologies. Close collaboration with several universities, administrative and private sector partners and different NGOs in Tanzania is integral part of the team’s applied research approach including higher education development. to another website.) (Opens New Window) to another website.) (Opens New Window)