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Changing Customary Land Tenure Regimes in Tanzania

The case of women's land rights in matrilineal and patrilineal communities

Time: Thu 2022-10-13 10.00

Location: DMTC Building, Ardhi University, Dar es Saalam, Tanzania (Tanzania time: 11:00 am), Dar es Salaam

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Language: English

Subject area: Real Estate and Construction Management

Doctoral student: Jenesta Urassa , Fastighetsvetenskap, Ardhi University, Tanzania

Opponent: Associate Professor Faustin Maganga, St John's University of Tanzania

Supervisor: Docent Jenny Paulsson, Fastighetsvetenskap; Professor John Lupala, Ardhi University, Tanzania; Peter Ekbäck, Fastighetsvetenskap

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QC 20220919


Customary land tenure is a dominant system in agrarian societies and in Africa generally,which is evolving from communal to individual regimes in response to socio-economicissues. Various studies have paid attention to economic incentives of shifting communaltenure into private property, while ignoring social implication of such changes. In Tanzania,while progress has been made to strengthen property rights through legislation, somecommunity members, particularly women, have lost their land rights. The objectives of thisstudy are to examine the changing customary land tenure regimes from communal toprivate, with a focus on the existing policies and laws protecting property rights, changesin social relations that determine customary land tenure in matrilineal and patrilinealcommunities. A cross-sectional study was carried out, whereby documentary reviewinterviews and focus group discussions were used to collect data.

The study’s findings indicated that cultural mix has influenced land transfer practices,whereby social relations in matrilineal and patrilineal communities and women'sattachment to land have been affected. Intermarriage contributes to the loss of propertyrights in the case of divorce or death of a husband, particularly in a matrilineal society. Lowlevels of education and income constrain women from competing in the land market. Jointtitles allow women to be involved in making decisions about land use in households, andto claim property rights if they are widows. On the other hand, there is a perception that ajoint title does not ensure a positive outcome for some women, due to continuing subtleviolation of women’s land rights.

The study revealed that although land laws exist, the main challenge was knowing abouttheir applicability. Land disputes persisted among those using the land, mainly as a resultof the violation of land rights. Although dispute resolution machinery allowing people topresent their land-related claims were in place, the resolutions reached largely depended onthe parties’ knowledge of the existence of the adjudication of land cases. The studyrecommends a review of policies and programmes, collaboration with non-governmentalorganizations (NGOs), women’s empowerment and a programme aimed at changingcommunity attitudes.