The continuing struggles for land in Africa and the recent and dynamic academic debates about conservation as land grabbing calls for the critical analysis of the complexity besieging land deals that disempower local resource owners in different social-economic and political settings. This paper considers Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in Tanzania as a new category of protected areas with potentially continuing effects on rural community land rights. Using an example of uranium mining and hunting concessions in the Mbarang’andu WMA in Namtumbo district, the paper demonstrates how WMAs have served to release village lands for different kinds of private sector investments in both nature-based and extractive industries. Conceptually, the paper draws from the body of literature on idle/waste land and the power relations to demonstrate how the existing legal framework and the relations of power work to the detriment of local land users. Qualitative techniques were the main thrust of data collection both in Dar es Salaam and during the fieldwork in Namtumbo district. The main argument of the paper is that the change of village land into conservation has entailed an irrevocable change of land and other resource tenure. Yet, the use of WMAs and the economic gains from investments in them are not determined by community members, but the relations of power at higher levels – the government ministries, investors (who are often foreign to the community) and local elites. In particular, the circumstances in Mbarang’andu suggest that the mining law lacks complete recognition of WMAs, which pre-empts any possibility for negotiations for community rights to mining investments or the associated social-economic impacts. Instead of empowering local communities, therefore, WMAs may continue to serve the interests of those with the necessary capital and political influence, which engenders new social regimes of power and inequality.
Noe, C. LDPI Working Paper 15. Contesting village land: uranium and sport hunting in Mbarang&#8217;andu Wildlife Management Area, Tanzania. The Land Deal Politics Initiative, (2013) 20 pp.