Round Table Dialogue on Consultation for Indigenous Peoples and local communities in Tanzania

By Stefano Consiglio, IFAD Country Office Tanzania

On 3-4 December 2016 a round table dialogue on consultation for indigenous peoples and local communities was co-hosted by IFAD Country Office in Tanzania, the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance, and the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, in Dar es Salaam. Representatives of the Government of Tanzania, IFAD partners, and members of the different indigenous communities, discussed the central role of consultation in the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples.

Left to right: Hon. Augustine Mahinga, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
of the United Republic of Tanzania, and Ms. Antonella Cordone,
FAD Senior Specialist on Indigenous Peoples.

The Government of Tanzania and the rights of Indigenous Peoples

It is important to demystify the fear connected with  recognizing  indigenous peoples and their right to self-determination, stressed Hon. Augustine Mahiga, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Republic of Tanzania. The Government needs to accept, he added, that the definition of Indigenous Peoples, as provided in International and Regional instruments, applies to some groups living in Tanzania. The Government of Tanzania, he recalled, is fighting against marginalization, embracing the process of consultation and talking about indigenous peoples in the context of development and unity. Tanzania, concluded the Minister, is a champion in tolerance and multi-ethnic coexistence; it is paramount to build on this diversity as a major cultural asset, which will foster development and social inclusion.

Cultural diversity is an asset for development

In the centre: Mr. Adam Ole  Mwarabu, a member of the Masai community
from the PAICODEO indigenous forum, who participated in the
Indigenous Forum organized in IFAD HQ in 2015.
Dr. Alber Barume, of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, recalled that for over 60 years, development was based solely on the concept of statehood; cultural diversity was seen as a dividing element. Today, he noted, the African Development Agenda considers cultural diversity as an asset for development, fully embracing the idea of “leaving no one behind”, which is embedded in the 2030 Development Agenda. Dr Barume noted that both the African Union and the Governments of the different African States, consider consultation of local communities key to the realization of the development agenda. A multi-stakeholder dialogue, he emphasized, is paramount for the development of a country-specific consultation process, of which this round table dialogue is a very good example. This consultation process, he concluded, must follow a right-based approach, applying international consultation standards.

The intervention of Mr Shani Msafiri, representative of one of
the hunter-gatherers’ communities that participated
in the round table discussion.

The impact of consultation on the policies of the Government of Tanzania

The policies of the Ministry of Agriculture are adopted after a dialogue with stakeholders, said Mr. Victor Mwita, from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries. A clear example of the impact of consultation on the policy-making process, he added, is represented by the Grazing Land and Animal Feed Act. The idea of linking land management and livestock, he noted, was brought to the Parliament as a result of the consultation process held with the pastoralists. These indigenous communities, Mr. Mwita concluded, are not following an outdated system, on the contrary they are good scientist, who know where and when to move their cattle.

Indigenous peoples, land titles and the struggle for better laws

The formal recognition of the customary rights of occupancy of indigenous peoples, noted Mr. Edward Lekaita of the Ujamaa Resource Community Trust, is upscaling the level of protection offered to indigenous communities. The collective land title obtained by the Hadzabe hunters/gatherers communities, he added, is a clear evidence of the importance of supporting those legal instruments that can protect indigenous peoples from those phenomena of land grabbing and land degradation, which are affecting their livelihood. The importance of adopting laws that recognize the rights of indigenous peoples, was further emphasized by different speakers representing the respective indigenous forums.  Mr. Joseph Parsambei, of the Tanzania Pastoralist Community Forum, noted that despite the important role of indigenous peoples, there is no specific law in place that recognizes them. The lack of recognition, he emphasized, is limiting the rights of indigenous peoples. To overcome this situation, Mr Pasambei stressed, it is crucial to promote consultation with the Government and with other stakeholders, promote the involvement of the media, and act on the basis of the international instruments adopted by the Government of Tanzania. The words of Mr Parsambei were echoed by Mr. Edward Porokwa, Executive Director of PINGO’s Forum, who highlighted the importance of the proposed Constitution, which has been under discussion since 2011. The new constitution, he noted, recognized specific human rights to the minorities [Makudi Madogo Madogo in Kiswahili], who are identified with those people who depend on biodiversity for their livelihood.  This constitution, he concluded, is benefiting from the direct contribution of indigenous communities, who have 10 seats in the Constituent Assembly and are drafting entire sections of this crucial legal instrument

A united front to tackle challenges and deliver on achievable milestones

Left to right: Hon Bahame Tom Nyanduga, Chairman of the Commission for
Human Rights and Good Governance; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the
United Republic of Tanzania; and Mr Francisco Pichon,
IFAD Country Director Tanzania.
It is paramount to avoid fragmented actions and create a united front through the joint identification of a road map with achievable milestones, noted Mr. Francisco Pichon, Country Director for Tanzania.  It is crucial, he added, to avoid being blocked by the definition of indigenous peoples, and focus on the joint efforts that can be made to promote and protect their rights. The importance of a streamlined approach was emphasized also by Ms. Antonella Cordone, Senior Specialist on Indigenous Peoples, who recalled that behind every system and every organization there are the people. It is important, she added, to identify the champions of indigenous peoples in government and civil society and go beyond the organization of workshops. It is key, she concluded, to jointly set the next steps and milestones that could be achieved, and to understand that if indigenous peoples can benefit from IFAD’s support, also IFAD needs the help of indigenous peoples, who are the depositary of an invaluable knowledge. 

The Tanzanian Country Programme and the rights of indigenous peoples

The Tanzanian Country Strategic Opportunity Programme 2016-2021 gives special attention to the needs, priorities, and inclusion of pastoralists, hunter-gatherers and other indigenous groups in Tanzania, noted Ms. Rachele Arcese of the IFAD Country Office in Dar es Salaam. IFAD, she added, is currently acting through three main projects, which focus on the rights of indigenous peoples. A large country grant provided to the International Land Coalition, she noted, is fostering policy dialogue through the creation of a platform for NGOs coordination on land governance. The GEF-funded LDFS project, she continued, has been designed through a participatory approach, strongly focused on the consultation of the involved indigenous communities. The same approach, she concluded, will be used for the Dryland Development Project in central and north-western Tanzania, which will be formulated in 2017.

The importance of global engagement for the rights of Indigenous Peoples

The round table dialogue held in Tanzania was a direct result of the engagement of IFAD both in the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, and the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. This engagement at global level allowed IFAD to start a policy dialogue with the Government of Tanzania, which would not have been possible without this global level engagement. With the financial and technical support of our partners, including the National Commission for Human Rights, IFAD is playing a catalytic role in facilitating this policy engagement process, and the upscaling of the national policies adopted to protect the rights of indigenous peoples. It is, therefore, paramount for IFAD to focus both on country level dialogues and global engagement, two strategies which are not only mutually reinforcing, but which are also facilitating the dissemination of good practices, both at national and global level. 

The participants of the round table dialogue came from the Government of Tanzania, IFAD representatives from both HQ and the ICO, IFAD development partners, and representatives of different indigenous groups.