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Tanzania: PM Ends Loliondo Long-Running Land Conflict

PRIME Minister Mizengo Pinda has ordered to put on hold plans to carve off 1,500 square kilometres from the former Loliondo Game Controlled Area, in a bid to solve the long-existing land conflict in the area.

The premier said that things should simply revert back to the way they were before the conflicts erupted.

"The 1,500 square kilometres were meant for conservation, which is a good idea but on the other hand, we have come to the conclusion that the Maasai pastoralists who have inhabited the area since time immemorial are good conservationists themselves, thus can still take good care of the area," he said.

According to Mr Pinda, the decision was reached after a series of consultations that climaxed with the PM's meeting with Ministers for Lands and Human Settlement Development; Natural Resources and Tourism as well as Livestock and Fisheries all of whom held talks at Wasso on Monday.

The ministers also held meetings with traditional Maasai elders (Laigwanans), local investors and district officials, sessions that came up with the ultimate decision to let Loliondo remain the way it was before.

"Except this time all parties must sit and come up with proper land-use plans aimed at ensuring sustainable environmental preservation, wildlife protection and conservation of important river sources that pump water downstream to the Serengeti National Park and beyond," pointed out Mr Pinda.

At least 70,000 people mostly nomadic pastoralists live in the Loliondo and parts of Sale divisions of Ngorongoro District, many moved into the area back in the 1950s after being evicted from Serengeti which was then becoming a National Park.

The place became a multi-purpose area hosting game hunting ventures, a bit of conservation, human residence and until now it serves as headquarters for the Ngorongoro District where the district commissioner and council offices are located.

Mr Samuel Nangiria representing the Ngorongoro Network of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) expressed gratitude to both the premier and his government for being responsive to the needs of the Maasai in the area.

Land Minister, Prof Anna Tibaijuka said the voices of indigenous people will always be respected, adding that the recent plans to survey and map villages located within Loliondo and Sale divisions will resume after being halted for a while.

Members of Parliament for Simanjiro (Christopher Ole Sendeka) and Longido (Lekule Laizer) who earlier on formed a special commission from the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) to look into the matter, said the premier's decision gave credit to the party that it was still focused on ordinary people.

Loliondo is part of the legendary Serengeti Eco-system comprising the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Maswa Game Reserve, Serengeti National Park and Maasai-Mara Game Reserve (Kenya) forming Africa's largest wildlife area.

By Marc Nkwame, 25 September 2013

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