Socio-economic transformation and environmental degradation in Tanzania: a case of Njombe district

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University of Dar es Salaam
The basic objective of the study was to investigate how the society has been affected socially, economically, politically, culturally and to find out how and why man-environment relationship has resulted into man-environmental crisis. The study also attempted to discover how, when and why the people of Njombe have transformed their environment. The study used a historical approach to analyse the man-environmental relationship from pre-colonial times to the present. The underlying assumption that led the study is that much of the land degradation problems and the resulting agricultural impacts result from longterm social economic processes. To a larger extent environmental degradation in Tanzania in general and the study area in particular became a matter of concern with the advent of colonialism resulting from the new economic and political ethic that was set in. Land alienation, forced labour taxation etc. combined to disrupt a self-propelling social formation which took the environment to be part and parcel of the society. The new economic system was bent towards exploiting resources for an economy abroad and therefore was not concerned with sustainability. The study developed a theoretical framework to explain the relationship between man and environment. Space time and culture are some of the pillars which have been shown by the framework that changed social organisation in the society. Again, the framework and the questions/assumptions were empirically tested by investigating the historical changes in the economic systems in Njombe district in particular. The major findings have shown that land degradation is caused by both the commoditisation of production, social relations arising there from which naturally compelled people to exploit land without recourse to its restitution the result of which has been serious depredation.
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Tanzania, Environmental degradation, Land degradation
Mfuse, M. G. (1999) Socio-economic transformation and environmental degradation in Tanzania: a case of Njombe district, Masters’ dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at (