Communal culture, communal land rights
Born to a Maasai tribe, Edward Loure grew up in the Simanjiro plains, where his family and others in the community led a peaceful seminomadic life raising their cattle in harmony with the surrounding wildlife. In 1970, the Tanzanian government sealed off part of their village land to create Tarangire National Park and forcefully evicted the Maasai residing within the park boundaries.
His personal experiences, cultural background, and education—with degrees in management and administration—put him in a unique position to lead the Ujamaa Community Resource Team (UCRT), a local organization that has championed community land rights and sustainable development in northern Tanzania for the past 20 years. Loure was one of the first people to join UCRT, and together with his colleagues—hunter-gatherers and fellow pastoralists—began driving efforts to protect his people and traditions.
Loure and the UCRT team found an opportunity in one particular aspect of Maasai governance: its strong communal culture. It became the basis for Certificates of Customary Right of Occupancy (CCRO), a creative approach to applying the Tanzanian Village Land Act. Instead of the conventional model of giving land titles to individuals, CCROs allow entire communities to secure indivisible rights over their customary lands and manage those territories through bylaws and management plans. By formalizing communities’ land holdings and providing legal documentation, CCROs would help them protect their land rights and ensure the environmental stewardship of their territory for future generations.
Improving economic realities, promoting wildlife conservation
Their early work and experience with the Hadzabe paid off in 2014, when the Tanzanian government issued the first-ever CCRO to a Maasai community in Monduli district. With their rights to the land guaranteed by law, the community members are thriving. Their cattle stocks are healthy, which creates additional income for people to pay for medical care and send their children to school.
Thanks to Loure’s leadership and his team’s dedication, UCRT has protected more than 200,000 acres of rangeland through CCROs. With their land rights secured, a band of Hadzabe people are ensuring the survival of their hunter-gatherer lifestyle while generating modest revenue from carbon credits and carefully managed cultural tourism.
Loure and UCRT, along with national and international partners, are now looking to replicate the CCRO model throughout Tanzania, with communal grazing lands of nearly 700,000 acres slated for titling in the next year or two. Their goal is to scale up efforts so that community-based land titling becomes a key component of land use planning and management that balances the needs of Tanzania’s people, its environment, and economy.