Tanzanian government evicts pastoralists

Published: Friday 30 June 2006

The Tanzanian government recently began evicting pastoralists from the Ihefu basin in the country's Mbeya city claiming they were causing environmental degradation.

Ihefu, a catchment basin of Rufiji river in the Mbeya city, is also known as the Usangu wetland. Around 1,000 pastoralists, who collectively own two million heads of cattle, have been asked to leave the basin.

Authorities claim the area is a protected area and a game reserve while also being an important water resource for the Ruaha river, which feeds multiple hydroelectric projects downstream and joins the Rufiji river. Authorities also added that intensive human activity was not allowed in the reserve. Regardless of this, pastoralists had settled in the area with their livestock.

Earlier, the government had approached herdsmen to convince them to vacate the land and advised them to limit their livestock that might give them leave to stay outside the reserve. "Some pastoralists have already left the areas, but there are others who don't want to leave and we are going to use force," said John Mwakipesile, Mbeya regional commissioner.

No alternative settlements had been made for the pastoralists, who claim they had nowhere to go. Authorities say they were free to go anywhere in the region but suggested they cut down their cattle to a manageable quantity.

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