Population, land management and environmental change: the case of Lushoto district

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University of Dar es Salaam
This study set out to establish the basis for the increased degradation of environmental resources in Lushoto district. The major objective was to understand the nature of man-environment relationships, as well as rational use and conservation of natural resources in the context of sustainable development. Specifically, the study intended to: (a) identify and assess environmental changes caused by population growth; (b) assess people's perceptions of the existing environmental and population problems in their areas; (c) establish factors that influence land management practices, and (d) recommend methods of managing population and the environment sustainably. Findings of this study are based on several sources of data. These include: person-to-person interviews, group discussions, field observations and documentary reviews. For questionnaire administration, a total of 200 heads of households were sampled and interviewed. A closed and open ended questionnaire was used. The bulk of the qualitative data was subjected to content analysis. For the quantitative data, some statistical analyses were performed using: the Chi Square (X2) test, Coefficient of Contingency (c) as measure of association and the Pearson Correlation Coefficient (r). The study established that population and land management are closely related to environmental change. It has been shown that population in Lushoto district is growing faster than the resources found there can support. Consequently, increasing population, mismanagement of land and other environmental resources have aggravated the land degradation problem in the district. Other factors that have contributed to the worsening of the situation include: land alienation, demographic and socio-economic factors. These, working in various combinations, have resulted in soil erosion, land fragmentation, loss of land productivity, out-migration and overall poverty. It was established that the people in Lushoto have a high level of perception of the population and environmental problems. Many are aware of the common practices that conserve resources. However, some villagers showed negative attitudes towards some of the scientifically and externally introduced methods to conserve environmental resources. This is explained by the fact that there has been neglect of the indigenous knowledge in project formulation and implementation. This is construed as a major setback towards adoption of better methods of environmental resource management among some rural communities. The study concludes by emphasizing that there is a great need to deliberately incorporate peoples' perceptions and knowledge, skills and experiences in planning strategies for combating land degradation in Lushoto district. Other strategies are recommended that might help to regulate the increasing population and environmental degradation: (i) relocating people to other places as found feasible and appropriate, (ii) strengthening family health education, (iii) developing strategies to promote off-farm employment opportunities, (iv) avoiding, as far as possible, further land alienation in matters of land allocation for small-scale users, farmers, villagers and large-scale users (investors). Future proposed research areas should focus on: (a) anthropological exploration of why and how the Wasambaa adopt or not adopt scientific environment conservation measures, (b) assessment and analysis of people's reluctance to out-migrate as a response to population pressure and increasing decline of the resource base, and finally, (c) research should be conducted on ways of promoting rural industrialization for better management of population and environmental resources
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Population, Man-influence on nature
Kashaija, A. (1997) Population, land management and environmental change: the case of Lushoto district, Masters’ dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at (