Iringa District


Msosa is a traditional village, and was officially registered in 1991. The name Msosa is derived from the Msosa river which flows through the centre of the village. The village lies in Mahenge division, in Mahenge ward, in Iringa Rural district. To the north, it is bordered by Ruaha Mbuyuni village, to the south by Ikula village, to the west by Mtandika village and to the east by Udzungwa National Park and Kilosa district. The Ruaha river runs to the north of the village, and divides it from the main DSM-Mbeya road.

Iringa district


Msosa is located approximately 110km from Arusha and 16km from the main Arusha-Dar es Salaam road at S 07º 30′ 32.6″ E 036º 31′ 14.9″. It is located in the Ruaha valley and is positioned between the Udzungwa National Park and the Great Ruaha River. The mountains surrounding the village are densely forested with sub-montane forest unlike the hills and mountains closer to Arusha, which have all but lost their forest cover due to the demand for wood and charcoal. The village has partitioning of land for different uses with a central living area, irrigated farmland, rain-fed agriculture and land for grazing.

Agricultural productivity varies depending on the availability of water. Therefore, although the village is in a semi-arid area there is dependence on high altitude forests to provide water. Irrigation water comes from the Great Ruaha River and the Msosa River and supplies farms in the east and south of the village. In areas where there is irrigation productivity is high. Areas around the houses are used for rain-fed agriculture and productivity is lower as farming is dependent on the vagaries of the weather. Most of the crops grown on irrigated land, such as tomatoes, onions beans and groundnuts are sold for cash while the rain-fed farmland is used to grow the staples for the villagers diet. Therefore, there is a subsistence dependence on rainfall. This year there has been greater rainfall than in recent years especially in October/November and February. However, the last month has been dry and there is much less water available for farming.

The irrigation canals run through the village in places and the water is also used for some domestic uses although not for drinking. This is because the Great Ruaha River is used as a source of domestic water but the threat of crocodiles means that many activities such as washing clothes and pots is carried out in the irrigation channels. The river is also used as a source of fish for sale in the village and elsewhere. Firewood is collected from the Miombo woodland surrounding the village in the north, which is also used to graze livestock. There is some evidence of overgrazing with patches of land with no vegetation cover. There is greater woodland cover to the west and south of the village.

There is one road that leads to the village from the main Arusha-Dar es Salaam road. The village is quite close to the main road but on the other side of the Great Ruaha River so access is difficult. The remoteness of the village means that there is no electricity even though the high-tension power lines from Mtera pass through village land.

Village history

In the past, residents of Msosa considered that their village stretched to the east as far as Kilombero valley. But in the 1970s the Udzungwa mountains were gazetted as a forest reserve and many people were moved out of it and down into Msosa.

Human population, ethnicity and settlement pattern

The village has about 295 households and a population of 1425 (711 men and 714 women), according to the census carried out in 2000. The largest ethnic group is the Sagala, which constitutes about 98% of the population. In addition there are also representatives from the Hehe and Gogo tribes. There are four sub-villages (Mjengo, Mbinga, Uhindini and Madela) which are all concentrated together in the central part of the village.

Present village administration

The village government has three committees:

  1. Planning and finance
  2. Social services
  3. Defence and security

One of the important sub-committees under the Social Sevices committee is the Land Distribution committee, which is headed by a woman. Most other committee members are men.

Ownership, use and management of CPR

Villagers identify the following resources as CPR:

  1. Rainfed agricultural land
  2. Irrigated agricultural land
  3. Residential area
  4. Village forest
  5. Pasture land for grazing livestock
  6. Village land
  7. Forest reserve
  8. Wildlife
  9. Fish

Rainfed agricultural land

This is a specific area set aside for agriculture, and lies in the southern part of the village, along the Msosa river. The land is owned partly by the village government who are responsible for distributing it to people who request land, and partly by individuals under customary ownership, inherited from their parents and grandparents. The main crops grown on rainfed land include maize, beans, groundnuts, sorghum, millet, sesame (which they have just started cultivating).

Irrigated agricultural land

The irrigated area is in the northern part of the village, and lies alongside the Ruaha and Msosa rivers. It is a large area, but water does not always reach the furthest parts of it, therefore there is not sufficient land for everyone to cultivate, and many farmers have tiny plots, as small as a quarter of an acre. The system is traditional and has been used for several generations, but in the 1990s SNV-TIP, a Dutch traditional irrigation project, assisted the village to improve the system, e.g. by helping to build the intake. As in the case of the rainfed land, the irrigated land is either owned by individuals or by the village government. The main crops grown on the irrigated land include maize, onions, beans, groundnuts, cassava and bananas. Some farmers have a large area of land (up to 25 acres) much of which they rent out. The price for renting a piece of land varies according to the crop which will be cultivated, e.g. for the cultivation of onions, an acre of land is rented for TAS80,000, for beans the price is TAS30,000 and for ground nuts it is TAS 25,000.

There is an irrigation committee as part of the village government, which has 12 members and whose responsibility it is to oversee the main channels, including maintenance, cleaning, construction and rehabilitation, and the even distribution of water. For each small channel there is also a committee, which consists of 5 members. Income for this committee derives from membership fee, land ownership fee and fines for e.g. neglecting the maintenance of the small channels, or diverting water onto their shamba when it is not their turn to receive water. The income is used for repairs, new building projects, equipment and allowances for committee members – as an example, a new intake was built, to which the village were able to contribute TAS800,000. This money also pays for the use of the water.

Residential area

Each family in the village is allocated a quarter of an acre as the area on which to build a house.

Village forest

The residential and agricultural areas of the village are surrounded by natural forest. The village has not planned an area as a village forest reserve, and people have free access to the forest. Women collect firewood, but complain that dead firewood is getting further and further away, and they are not allowed to cut green firewood. Village leadership told us that there is no charcoal making in the village, but given the village’s location near to the main road, it seems likely that a certain amount goes on. They also claim that there are no trees suitable for timber in their forest and that any timber used comes from Ilula (over 50km distant), but again, since they also told us that some people come in and steal timber trees, this may not be the whole truth….

Pasture land for grazing livestock

Many people in the village own goats and sheep, although they say that there are no cows. There is an area set aside for grazing adjacent to the agricultural area, and next to the Msosa river. There is enough grazing to support all the animals in the village. They say that no pastoralists (e.g. Masai) bring their livestock to graze in the village.

Village land

If someone is in need of land, they send a letter of application to the village government, stating for what purpose they need the land (e.g. residential, agriculture) and how much land they need. The village government discusses the application, and after agreeing to the request, the social services committee is responsible for allocating the piece of land. The person who requests the land must pay TAS 2500 administrative costs.

Forest reserve

People are not allowed to go into this forest at all. However, people who used to live in the village of Mbatwa, who were moved during the 1970s, may apply for a permit to enter the forest to visit sacred clan sites in order to carry out traditional rites.


In the forest reserve, there are many wild animals, e.g. elephants, wild pigs, tandala, monkeys, impalas. In the past, the villagers relied on wildlife as a part of their diet, but now they are not allowed to hunt in the forest reserve. Since there are fewer checks on wildlife, the populations are increasing, and many animals are now entering the shambas and destroying crops, especially pigs, hippos, baboons, monkeys, and occasionally elephants. There are many crocodiles and hippos in the Ruaha river, which affect women’s access to the river water – water from the irrigation channels is mostly used for domestic use, but it is too dirty to be used for drinking water. Women must therefore risk the crocodiles and hippos by the river.


People fish in the Ruaha river. The fish are smoked in the village and sold both in the village and outside. It is therefore both a source of nutrition and of income.

Past, present and future influences on resource use and management systems that impact on poverty alleviation

Relocation of people from Udzungwa National Park

People were moved from villages in Udzungwa National Park in the 1970s and relocated in Msosa, putting pressure on existing resources in the village, such as land, especially the irrigated land, and forests. There is still clearly resentment on the part of people who were moved.

Irrigation system

The presence of a large area of land which can be irrigated for most of the year ensures that people can cultivate at least two crops per year, and that they therefore rarely experience times of hunger. However, there are some people in the village who have such a small piece of land that they are not able to gain significant benefits from it. The SNV-TIP project helped the village to improve its irrigation system and also brought in new management ideas which have made the system more efficient.

The presence of the road and the river

The main DSM-Mbeya road only 5km from the village provides a good market for village produce, especially onions, which are sold in small stalls along the road. However, the fact that there is a large river between the village and the road is a check on the amount of produce which can be taken to the road – it may be that there would be more charcoal production if the village were directly on the road.

Norms regulating resource use

  • In the forest reserve it is prohibited even to enter, without a special permit for a good reason (e.g. to perform rites in traditional areas)
  • In the village forest areas it is prohibited to cut down trees without a permit and to cut green wood for firewood
  • Areas of land are set aside for specific purposes, e.g. there is an area for rainfed agriculture, an area for grazing, a distinct area for settlement, an irrigated area. Cultivation cannot take place in the grazing area, nor can livestock be grazed in the areas set aside for agriculture.

Village problems

  • Water – lack of clean water for drinking
  • danger of collecting drinking water from the river because of crocodiles and hippos
  • No MCH clinic in the village – pregnant women have to go to Ruaha Mbuyuni by crossing the river in a small canoe.
  • Diseases – malaria, typhoid, diarrhoea, dysentery, STDs
  • Transport – the road to reach the main DSM-Mbeya road is long and in poor condition
  • Destructive wild animals – hippos, pigs, monkeys and baboon destroy crops
  • Firewood is far away
  • Flooding – when there is a large volume of rain, the Mtera dam fills up and water has to be released, which then floods many shambas along the edge of the river.
  • Shortage of irrigated land
  • Marketing products – the road is very long and in bad condition, and there is a limit to what can be taken across the river in dugout canoes.
  • Lack of economic projects since there is no access to credit
  • Lack of agricultural inputs

Financial benefits accrued from natural resources

The village does not collect a fee of any kind from forest products. The ward office, through the ward Forestry Officer, issues licences, collects fees and fines villagers who cut and sell firewood or charcoal. These charges are meant to discourage and restrict these practices. Collection of firewood or charcoal production for personal domestic use is free. Money collected by the ward Forestry Officer is used by the District Council to fund development programmes and to cover office expenses at the district level.

Land is allocated to villagers for housing or farming after a down payment of 2,000 TAS per application. The application fee (ada ya ombi) is collected by the village authority and used to cover their expenses. Irrigated land is in high demand for growing cash crops like onions, beans and groundnuts. This land is owned by individuals who can rent this land to others. The rent paid is dependent on the individuals and on the type of crop intended to be grown that season. Onions are charged 80,000 TAS per acre per season. Beans are charged 30,000 TAS per acre per season. Groundnuts are charged 25,000 TAS per acre per season. Payment is usually in cash, either when the owner has a pressing problem or after harvest. Payment can be made in the equivalent value of crops but cash is the preferred form of payment.

Every family resident in the village pays 1,000 TAS per year for the irrigation canal regardless of whether they have irrigated farms. It is believed that each family benefits from the irrigation water so everyone should pay the fee. Non-residents pay 10,000 TAS per season if they have irrigated farms. A fee of 2,000 TAS is charged per acre per year to each person who has used water from the irrigation canals. This fee is called ‘ada ya wenye shamba’. Fines are also imposed on anyone who breaks the regulations regarding irrigation water. Those who do not assist in the maintenance of the canals are fined 1,000 TAS for each day they miss. Farmers who prevent water reaching other irrigated farms or use water outside of their scheduled time are fined 5,000 TAS for each fault.

Money from the irrigation scheme is managed by the Irrigation Committee (Kamati ya Umwagiliaji), which is under the jurisdiction of the village government. The money is used to construct new canals if necessary and to maintain existing canals. Part of this money is also used to pay the water bill to the Rufiji River Basin Management Authority. In 1999/2000 a total of 87,890 TAS was paid and it is expected that the same will be paid again this year. Last year money from fees was also used to construct a temporary bridge at Madela intake after it was destroyed by heavy rains. This cost 400,000 TAS. The village also contributed 800,000 TAS from the water fees to construct a 3.3 million TAS intake wall. This was done with the assistance of the WWF and the Udzungwa National Park through the TANAPA arrangement that promotes cooperation between institutions and villages bordering national parks. The village also purchased the tools required for maintenance work and paid each member of the water committee 200 TAS for each day that they met. The water committee makes all the decisions regarding money collected through water fees. The village council checks these decisions before they are brought before all the villagers during a village meeting (Mkutano wa wafaidika) for approval. The irrigation committee has a bank account with NBC Iringa and at present the balance is 22,000 TAS.

Fishing in the Msosa River is mainly for food and is of small scale. No licences are imposed but if excess fish are sold in the village market there is a charge of 100 TAS per day.

Villagers find it more beneficial to have the neighbouring Udzungwa Mountain forests under the control of the government rather than the village. However, individuals own land for agriculture as this gives them the greatest benefits. If an individual does not cultivate their land in a particular season for any reason they can always get some benefits by renting the land out to others.

Wealth ranking

Poor group

  • Their house is made from sticks and mud and thatched with grass
  • They do not have enough food to last the year – they may only harvest one sack of maize
  • They may only harvest 5-7 sacks of onions from a very small area of irrigated land
  • They never have any spare money

Middle group

  • Their house is solidly built of mud with a grass roof
  • They harvest enough food to last them for about 9 months – about 2-3 sacks of maize
  • They harvest 7-15 sacks of onions.
  • They have a small amount of spare money.

Well off group

  • They have a house built of burnt bricks and roofed with iron sheets
  • They have an asset such as a milling machine, or water pumps for irrigating their shambas
  • They have over 5 acres of irrigated land.
  • They have over 50 goats and sheeps.
  • They harvest over 100 sacks of onions.
  • They harvest between 20-40 sacks of maize.
  • They never experience hunger.


Isele village is in Itunundu ward, Pawaga division, Iringa Rural district, in the north west of Iringa region. To the south it is bordered by Mafuluto village in Idodi division, to the north by Kinyika village, to the east by Kimande village and to the west by Ruaha National Park and the Great Ruaha river. The feeder road to the village runs through a forest along the edge of the previous course of the Ruaha river. The whole area becomes very wet during the rainy season, making the road impassable for several months of the year.

Iringa district


Isele is 84km from Iringa at S 07º 21′ 31.5″ E 035º 25′ 49.5″. There are two roads that provide access to the village but during the rains both roads become difficult to navigate. In general vehicles do not come to the village until July/August. A 10km stretch of one road passes through a riparian forest and it is this section that makes the road impassable during the rains. There is a school in the village but no power because of its remoteness. The riparian forest is very close to the village and is used as a source of firewood. It is likely that the forest is also used to make charcoal, even though it is important for protecting the water source of the village.

There is some partitioning of land for different uses although housing is spread over a wide area in the village allowing grazing of cattle in and around the housing in the grassland and miombo woodland. Subsistence crops such as maize are grown in small rain-fed farms around the houses and so are more effected when there is little or no rain. Isele has irrigated land in the north-east along the edge of the riparian forest, which is used for cash crops so they are less dependent on the vagaries of the weather. Irrigation water comes from the Ruaha River.

Village history

Isele is a traditional village. In the past it was a very large village, but was later divided into two and then three villages (Isele, Kisanga and Kinyika). When Ruaha National Park was established, the inhabitants were all moved out, and many came to live in Isele.

Human population

Isele is a registered village (1974) and has seven sub-villages – Kisoloka, Mbugani, Magombwe, Mlenge, Kikuruwe, Isele and Mbingama. The village has 624 households with 2080 people. The main tribes resident in the village are the Hehe and Gogo, with semi-permanent populations of Sukuma and Masai. There are also Kinga and Bena people who come into the village to cultivate rice during the agricultural season – some of these have now made their homes here – and Barabaig pastoralists who occasionally pass through. Previous residents of the village who have left for the cities, e.g. Dar es Salaam, Iringa, also come back to cultivate rice.

The settlement pattern of the village is very spread out, with the sub-villages strung out in a 10km long line along the road and the southern border of the village.

Present village administration

The village government is composed of three major committees which administer village affairs:

  • finance and planning
  • security and defence
  • social services

Under each committee there are several sub-committees, e.g. natural resources, land distribution, irrigation.

Ownership, use and management of common property resources

The following properties are considered to be CPR:

  • rainfed agricultural land
  • irrigated agricultural land
  • game controlled area
  • the village game controlled area
  • grazing land
  • residential area
  • forest set aside for building poles and ropes
  • forest for firewood
  • riparian forest reserve
  • wild animals
  • water

Rainfed agricultural land

The cultivated area in the village is roughly divided into two sections – dry areas for rainfed cultivation (mostly of maize and sorghum) and irrigated areas. In the past, people used to rely much more on cultivating maize, which is their main staple, but reliance has waned in recent years due to lack of rain. There is sufficient land for all those who want to cultivate maize. Most of this land is owned by customary tenure, and has been passed down from father to son. However, there is also an area which is village land, and which can be distributed on request to the village government. People can also acquire a shamba on a temporary basis from the owner who is not cultivating it that year. There is generally no charge for the use of the shamba.

Irrigated agriculture

There are two large areas of irrigated land, along the southern border of the village, running alongside the main irrigation channel, the Kiri. The irrigation channels were dug sometime during the 1950s by local people, and at that time the water came directly from the Little Ruaha river. However, during the 1960s, the course of the river Ruaha changed (an Italian priest dug an irrigation channel which the river took over as its new course), and the former course, the Kiponzelo, was left with very little water. In the 1980s, an intake was built from the river, which regulated the flow of water, but this gate is closed in August (since the river feeds the Mtera reservoir, a large hydroelectric dam which supplies much of Tanzania with electricity) and does not open again until December. The intake feeds two main channels from the Kiponzelo channel – the Kiri, flowing into Isele, Kinyika and Kisanga, and the Chamnala, which goes to Kimande and Itunundu.

The main crop cultivated in these areas is rice, although Sukuma people cultivate sweet potatoes along the edges of the fields. There is sufficient land for all who want to cultivate rice, and everyone who lives in the village has a rice field. Again, much of this land is owned by customary tenure, but the village government also has an area which they distribute on request. However, the limit for receiving a piece of land from the village government is 4 acres. People who own irrigated land may rent it out, at 15,000/= per acre. In many cases, people do not have this sort of money at the beginning of the agricultural season, so they will agree with the owner of the land that they will pay half the money at the time of renting, and the other half after harvest. Those who rent land are those who want more than the 4 acres which they can get from the village government, and also people who come into the area from outside to cultivate rice. There are also many people from the neighbouring villages of Ilolo and Magozi in Ilolo ward who do not have an area of irrigated land who come in to rent land.

In the past, during the times of the chiefs, there was a jumbe (headman) in charge of the whole system of irrigation and a strict regime of laws and maintenance. After independence, the chiefs and their administrative system was replaced by village governments and the irrigation system began to collapse. The village government says that now there is an irrigation committee with five members (but no women). Their responsibility is to oversee the fair distribution of water, to make sure that no-one blocks off the channels to flood their own shamba with water (a fine of 3000/= is imposed for doing this) and to discuss with other villages about the distribution of the water from the Kiponzelo channel. They also supervise repairs to the system, and decide when money needs to be raised for these repairs. This system may work efficiently, but several people mentioned that the channels were not in good condition, which suggests that there may still be problems.

Game controlled areas

There is a large swathe of land around the northern and western edges of the village which is part of the Lunda-Mkwambi Game Controlled Area (LMGCA). This area surrounds the Ruaha National Park and was gazetted during the 1970s. At that time everyone living there was moved out, and now villagers are not permitted to enter this area for any reason. In the late 1990s, the MBOMIPA project (Matumizi Bora ya Mali Asili Idodi na Pawaga) set up a new scheme in line with government policy to transform the existing LMGCA into a sustainable wildlife management area under community authority and responsibility. The project is building up the capacity of the community to manage the wildlife on their lands – the population of this wildlife is calculated by the district game officer, who then works out a quota of animals which can be hunted. The hunting quotas are sold to the highest bidders at an annual auction (this year, they were bought by an Arab businessman and a Greek farmer, both from Iringa). The income from the sale of the hunting quota come directly to the villages involved, and is used for community development initiatives, e.g. the construction of classrooms at the school, the construction of a secondary school for the two divisions of Idodi and Pawaga. It is therefore in the village’s interest to preserve the habitat of the animals which contribute to the hunting quota. To these ends, the village of Isele has decided to extend the official game controlled area by a further 5km into village land, in order to make the area for wildlife larger, and moved the inhabitants of this area out. The incidence of poaching has been reduced by the presence of village employed game scouts (many of them former poachers…). Some of the proceeds from the hunting quota payments are used for the game scouts’ allowances (who spend 10 days out in the LMGCA on patrol at a time). In the past, there have been problems with these game scouts, who have given themselves additional powers to threaten villagers. It is not clear from discussions with the village government whether this conflict has been resolved. The natural resources committee is very much involved with this part of village life.

Grazing land

In the past, there were major conflicts between livestock keepers/pastoralists and farmers, since the livestock keepers would often drive their livestock onto people’s shambas in June after harvest – although the rice crop wasn’t damaged, vegetables which people had left between the rice plants would be trampled or eaten, and the livestock would compact the shambas while there was still residual moisture. They would also ruin the irrigation channels and make the water, which many people use as their only source of water, dirty. In 1999, land use plans were drawn up by the village, and an area of grazing (Lyamdawi) was set aside. In 2000, the Iringa District Commissioner, himself a member of a pastoralist community, came to mediate between livestock keepers (mostly Maasai and Sukuma) and local farmers. The end result was an agreement that the livestock keepers will remain in the grazing area until September 1st, on which day they are allowed to enter the shambas. By that time any vegetables will have been harvested, the irrigation gates will have been shut and the shambas dried out and therefore minimal damage will occur both to the channels and to the shambas. In addition, the farmers say that it saves them the trouble of clearing or burning their shambas before the next season’s cultivation if livestock graze all the crop residues. At this stage, little was learnt about grazing patterns of these pastoralists within their grazing area. We also did not hear whether there is any conflict between the preservation of wildlife on village land (e.g. lions) and livestock keeping.

Residential area

The residential area is very spread out along the southern boundary of the village. There do not seem to be any regulations about who builds where. Many of the people are very far from the village centre, the school and the dispensary.


There were several types of forest mentioned in this village. In Mbingama sub-village there is a forest which has many mikoch trees (a sort of palm tree) – these trees are much used for building purposes, especially for ridge poles for houses, although they are useless as timber since they are so fibrous. The village has set aside this area for the sustainable harvest of these trees and also for ropes. Anyone who wants a tree must get a licence from the village government (natural resources committee) and then go with a scout to choose suitable trees. A tree takes 20 years to be harvestable, but the village government claims that the present rate of use is sustainable. The cost of a tree is 200/=, but if a person if found cutting them with no licence, the fine is 5000/= per tree cut. It is not permitted to use these trees for sale.

Firewood is harvested from the woodland around the residential area. Although women say that these days firewood is further away than it was in the past, they deny that it is a problem. Various reasons were given for the forest receding in this way – there are many more people than there were in the past, due to natural increases, and also immigration from the game controlled area, and some people told us that Sukuma farmers, who first started to arrive in the village from the Usangu plains in 1994, have cut down large areas of woodland for their maize shambas and cattle pens. There is little destruction of this woodland for commercial purposes however, since the market for firewood and charcoal is so far away (Iringa town, 80km on bad roads) – this, combined with the free availability of agricultural land ensures that the forest, for now, is safe from exploitation from the poorest sectors of society, who in other places have no alternative.

There are also two areas of riparian forest, which are forest reserves. These forests (Mlenge and Nyumbandito) are unique to this area and contain very different species from the surrounding miombo woodlands. They follow the Kiponzelo irrigation channel, and originate from the time when the Little Ruaha flowed along this course. Although the village government claims that they are reserves and thus protected, it seems that they are being encroached upon, by farmers gradually extending their shambas, by people stealing timber and by livestock keepers grazing their animals, thus preventing regeneration (grazing is permitted in the forest). It is also rumoured that the prison in Itunundu has started making charcoal in this forest. The village may not have control over the latter users, since there would be some powerful government figures involved.

Wild animals

Village leaders say that there are more animals than ever in the village and this is good, since their children are now seeing animals which only their grandfathers had ever seen before. This has come about because people have stopped hunting, and therefore there are more animals, and they are not so nervous about approaching inhabited areas. The downside to this is that some of the animals are destructive to shambas, especially elephants. Men say that they use smoke to drive elephants away, but that the elephants have now got used to this and don’t mind it any more. Other animals mentioned as entering the village include giraffes, zebras, monkeys, baboons, wild pigs, impalas, dikdiks, and even lions.


There are several sources of water in Isele. During the cultivation season, water for domestic use is drawn from the irrigation channels. When the water is shut off in about September, some women dig holes in the irrigation channels, while others go to the two indigenous wells near the boundary with Kinyika. These wells are used by the inhabitants of three villages (Isele, Kinyika and Kisanga) and do not have sufficient water for everyone. They are also locally dug, and get progressively deeper as the dry season goes on, and thus are prone to collapse. Women in Mbingama sub-village collect water from a seasonal river, but when that dries up, they walk through the LMGCA to the Great Ruaha, which takes 2-3 hours and takes them through forest full of potentially dangerous animals.

The irrigation water is generally sufficient during the cultivation season, except for those on slightly higher ground, where it may not reach properly. Since the water is shut off in August, this means that people cannot cultivate crops during the dry season, although some people manage to squeeze in a few vegetables before the water disappears, and Sukuma people cultivate sweet potatoes.

Past, present and future influences on resource use and management systems that impact on poverty alleviation

Recent agreements between farmers and pastoralists

In the past, there was serious conflict between farmers and livestock keepers (mostly Maasai and Sukuma) since the livestock keepers drove their animals onto people’s shambas and damaged them. It seems, according to the village government, that much of this conflict has now been resolved, and people can cultivate in peace, and the degradation of shambas through compaction has been reduced. However, more information is needed to confirm whether the issue has been entirely resolved – enmities as strong as this do not disappear overnight. There is also still considerable resentment between the Sukuma and the local people, often much to do with resource use, e.g. local people see that the Sukuma harvest more than they do from their shambas, and they blame this on supernatural powers rather than better agricultural practices, and they feel that the Sukuma are profligate in the use of the forest resources.

Benefits gained from proximity to the national park

In the past, people were very sceptical about the benefits to be gained from living next to the national park and the game controlled area. Most people had some sort of hunting implement in their houses, and their main source of protein would have been bush meat. Now they are not permitted to kill any animal. The village government say that this is outweighed by the financial benefits of the TANAPA scheme of ujirani mwema, which assists them to implement a project chosen by the village (e.g. they are planning to build two new classrooms at the school) and of the MBOMIPA initiated hunting quota scheme, which provides the village with a source of income. This means that the previous system of demanding contributions from everyone in the village every time they wanted to start a new village project is no longer necessary, and the money which would have been taken up in contributions can now be used to buy meat, of which there is a plentiful supply. The sense of ownership of the animals is also important – in the past, the district gave out hunting permits to outsiders and prosecuted poachers, and the village received nothing, but now it is in the village’s interest to preserve the animals and their habitat. However, more investigation needs to be done to ascertain exactly how people weigh up these benefits, and whether the financial gains compensate for the loss of bush meat.

Insufficient access to irrigated land

Although the area of land itself is sufficient for everyone, some people do not have enough irrigated land to cultivate. This is because some people, usually the original inhabitants of the village, have large land holdings, which they rent out to people from town for a large amount of money. Young people within the village cannot compete with the town people, and thus do not get land. This affects village food security.

Unfair distribution of irrigation water

There is an unfair distribution of irrigation water between the Kimande and Isele – people say that the irrigation channel going towards Kimande draws more water into it, leaving Isele with insufficient water for their needs. They say that there are plans to dig out the Isele channel, but that for now the excavator which they were going to use has broken down.

Riparian forest

This forest seems to be under threat from several angles, since local people, of course, do not yet appreciate its unique biodiversity. Therefore there are incursions from farmers, livestock keepers, charcoal makers, and possibly also hunters.

System of cultivation

There are ample resources of land in Isele to meet everyone’s needs, but there are several factors which prevent people from cultivating, or from realising the potential of their resources. The first is lack of rain, which in many years precludes rainfed cultivation at all. But there are also social factors which contribute. There is a system known in Kihehe as gani – men have their own shamba, the proceeds of which they use for their own needs rather than for family requirements. These needs may range from a bicycle or radio, to a new wife. In many cases, the existing wife/wives must cultivate the gani shamba first, meaning that they are late in cultivating their own shambas, on which the family depend for their food security, which in turn means that the harvest may not be as good as if they had cultivated earlier. Another factor preventing people from realising the full potential of their land is that of the cycle of hunger – the period of hardest work occurs between January and March, when crops have to be planted and weeded. However, the worst time of hunger also occurs at this time, when last year’s food stocks have already finished and this year’s crops are yet to be harvested. This means that farmers must find work as labourers on better off farmers’ shambas in order to have enough food to feed their families. The implications of this are that they are not able to devote all their time to farming their own shambas at this critical time and thus the amount of food which can be produced from them is reduced.

Norms regulating resource use

We heard of several norms which are in place to regulate resource use, but were not able confirm whether they are actually followed or not.

Livestock have an area set aside for them where they must stay from the beginning of the rains until Sep 1st.

People are allowed to harvest building materials from the Mbingama forest – a licence must be sought, and 200/= is paid per tree harvested. They are not for sale outside the village – only for domestic use.

It is forbidden to carry out any activities or harvest any products in the game controlled areas.

There is an irrigation committee which controls the distribution of irrigation water.

The riparian forest can be grazed in but cannot be used for harvesting timber or firewood.

Hunting wildlife is strictly prohibited.

Conflict resolution

We found several examples of systems of conflict resolution. The conflict between livestock keepers and farmers seems to have been resolved, but it is hard to know whether this would have been possible without the participation of the then DC, someone whom the Masai would have seen as ‘one of them’. This DC is no longer in Iringa, therefore if the conflict arises again, it may not be as easy to resolve.

The longstanding dispute between the northern villages of Isele, Kimande and Kinyika, and the southern villages of Kimande and Itunundu, of unfair distribution of water in the irrigation channels is in the process of resolution, through discussions at the ward council, the BMK.

It is rumoured that village leaders are chosen according to clan, following the old chief clans. This can often lead to conflict within the village, although we did not hear of anything specific. It is difficult to resolve, because the very ones who should be resolving it (the leaders) are the ones who are causing it in the first place.

Key problems identified

  • The main problem identified by most people, especially women is that of water during the dry season. Two wells are shared between three villages and the water in these wells is not sufficient for everyone, meaning that women have to wait often for hours for the well to replenish its water. The wells are very deep and are dug using local methods, thus are not stable, permanent or deep enough.
  • Some people complained that irrigation channels are sometimes in poor condition – this conflicts with the village government’s assertion that there is an efficient management system to ensure that the channels are all maintained.
  • There is a shortage of irrigation water, due to the gates being closed in August/September, and due to the uneven distribution between Kimande and Isele.
  • Transport is a big problem, especially during the rainy season when the village is virtually cut off. During the harvest, however, many lorries come into the village to transport the rice and bring maize.
  • For some sub-villages, the distance to the school is very great.
  • There is a shortage of classrooms and teachers’ houses at the village school, and there are not enough desks.
  • There are many diseases prevalent, e.g. malaria, diarrhoea, dysentary
  • There is a lack of meat since they are no longer permitted to hunt.
  • Elephants come onto shambas during the dry season and destroy crops.
  • There is no access to credit.
  • There is often too little rain.

Financial benefits accrued from natural resources

An immigrant to the village is charged 5,000 TAS per acre of land. 2,000 TAS is charged to a resident applying for the same land for any purpose (housing/agriculture). Individuals are not allowed to own more than four acres of irrigated land and one acre for housing. The village government appropriates the income from land allocation. Villagers who own irrigated land are able to rent land to others. Rain-fed agricultural land is not rented out in part because there is an abundance of land for this type of agriculture but also because the unpredictable climate means that harvests are more likely to fail leaving the owner unable to collect any rent. Individuals who rent land include immigrants from other areas and resident villagers who wish to cultivate a larger area. Land rents are paid in cash or partly in cash and partly with an equivalent amount of rice. One acre of irrigated land for rice cultivation costs 15,000 TAS per year to rent. Cash is preferred when the person renting the land is not resident in the village or if the landowner needs money for other things.

Farmers are charged 2,000 TAS per acre per year for the use of irrigation water (ada ya maji na ukarabati). Fines of 3,000 TAS per mistake are imposed on those who fail to adhere to the regulations for proper utilisation of irrigation water. Money from irrigation fees is administered by an irrigation committee of five members (men only). The treasurer of the committee keeps the money. The committee does not have a bank account because the village is too far from Iringa. Keeping the money in a bank account would mean that access to the money in an emergency would be very difficult. The money is used to pay the water bill to the River Basin Management Authority (137,000 TAS for the year 2000) and to repair and maintain the irrigation canals.

The Ngingame forest provides wood from a species known locally as Mikochi for building purposes. Each piece of timber is charged 200 TAS. The fee is pre-paid to the village forestry committee when the requirements are specified. Other harvesting is prohibited and a fine of 5,000 TAS is imposed for each tree cut.

Professional hunters can buy a quota of allowed animals in a hunting block controlled by the village leadership. The quota is auctioned by the district wildlife officer on behalf of the villages surrounding the game controlled area. The officer then distributes the money received equally to the respective villages. In 2000 this totalled 1,046,330 TAS.

The natural resources committee under the authority of the village government manages money from the use of forests and wildlife. This committee has a bank account (Akuanti ya mali asili Isele, Natural resources account for Isele) with NBC Iringa. This money is used to pay fees and allowances for ten village game scouts who work 15 days each in a rota system. Each is paid 10,000 TAS per 15 days. The rest of the money is used for village development programs like the rehabilitation of classrooms and purchasing desks. Some money is also used for general administration expenses.

Individual ownership of irrigated land is preferred because of the benefits accrued by ownership. Landowners can choose between cultivating themselves or renting the land out and in both cases they gain benefits. Community ownership of grazing land is preferred since this maximises the benefits for everyone. Government control of forests and wildlife is preferred as this provides strict controls and greater benefits for the community in the form of money from the allocation of hunting blocks and neighbourhood assistance programmes from TANAPA.

Last Updated: 18 December 2018