Climate change discourse and the intensification of conflicts over access to land and water resources in Tanzania

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University of Dar es Salaam
This study sought to understand growing land and water use conflicts in Tanzania by empirically analyzing the extent to which climate change is a factor. Conducted in Rufiji and Kisarawe districts, the study employed a case study research design with detailed analysis and in-depth investigation of deepening social tensions from the point of view of key actors, such as pastoralists, peasant farmers, government officials and investors. Multiple qualitative methods, such as interviews, Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), document review and observation were employed to ensure a triangulation and validity of evidence. The study found, however, that as opposed to climate change-induced resource scarcities, the growing conflicts should be understood as products of increasing exclusions over access to resources. The exclusion ensues from a drastic increase in demand for resources due to two recent forces, notably forced displacements and land enclosure for biofuels and food production. Rufiji and Kisarawe are respectively hosting more than 110,000 and 55,000 livestock of more than 700 pastoral families arriving within the past ten years following their displacements from Ihefu and Kilombero wetlands. Concurrently, the districts are experiencing an unprecedented scramble for land by private investors and agencies of foreign governments. The two districts are thus placed in a twofold dilemma - they have to accommodate competing interests for land by inflowing investors and pastoralists and meet the same demands by peasant farmers. As a dominant global environmental discourse, climate change has, therefore, been scapegoated and taken hostage to legitimize resource control through forced displacements and land acquisitions for biofuels and food production. The findings are in line with the theory of access positing that resources are not necessarily scarce, but their command is negotiated and shaped by actors with different competing interests and 4bundles or webs of power’. Bundles of power in terms of capital, authority and knowledge, for example, allowed investors to mediate access to land and water resources through legal and illicit means, such as coercion, manipulation and threats. As such, excluded local communities having limited webs of power in terms of authority and capital counteracted the power of investors through non-violent civil disobedience and direct action attached to their social relations and identity webs of power. On the other hand, to negotiate access to resources, ecologically marginalized pastoralists use their financial power to ally with officials of government and the police. Threatened by webs of power employed by pastoralists to mediate access to resources, peasant farmers, whose access to capital is limited, at times responded violently through their social relations and identity power. Thus, it is not scarcity of resources that explains land and water use conflicts in Rufiji and Kisarawe, but dynamic webs of power held and employed by actors to mediate and maintain access to increasingly scarce resources due to forced displacements and land enclosure for biofuels and food production. Findings from this study suggest that the following policy interventions are needed: first, a separate and independent category of grazing land for pastoral communities should be established and lerally secured to serve livelihood alternatives of ecologically marginalized pastoral ins. Second, interventions through peace education are required to reconcile the broken relations between pastoral communities and peasant farmers. However, for any peace education program to succeed, the move towards addressing ecological marginalization of the two groups should be prioritized.
Available in print form, East Africana Collection, Dr. Wilbert Chagula Library, Class mark ()
Climate change, ntensification, and water resources
John, W. (2015) Climate change discourse and the intensification of conflicts over access to land and water resources in Tanzania. Master dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaam.