Land is the basis of human society because it provides food, water, energy, clothing, and shelter. Land resources, however, are finite. Problems of inappropriate land use, population growth, over-exploitation of natural assets and environmental degradation are complex and long–term. These factors are exacerbated by poverty, inequality and social conflict because many people have inadequate access to land or to the benefits from its use. In the face of scarcity of resources and increasing conflicts over land uses, the role of integrated land use planning for sustainable management of natural resources becomes evident.
Participatory village LUP entails natural resource management achieved in an integrated manner through full involvement of the villagers and their institutions for the benefit of all stakeholders. The aim of the National Agricultural Policy (1997) is to promote integrated and sustainable use and management of natural resources in order to conserve the environment. CHEMA believes in creating awareness through participation. The tasks which CHEMA has implemented together with the District Council show CHEMA to be a key partner in LUP due in large part to technical know-how. CHEMA is also committed to empowering women by imparting knowledge on their land ownership rights.
The aim of this project has been to bring together the community representatives for each village in order to list, rank, prioritize and analyze land use planning problems and opportunities. Previous phases of this project have involved training representatives from 45 villages at a 95.5% success rate and have been facilitated by Bernhad Kazaula, regional land use planner, Elieskia Mgheni, district forestry officer, and Stephen Kileo.
Development Issues and Land-Use Problems Identified:
- Lack or poor roads connecting the village/villagers to the outside.
- Lack of agricultural technicians.
- Increased incidence of malaria.
- Increased incidences of HIV/AIDS.
- Increased cases of cattle theiving.
- Uncontrolled bush fires.
- Increased poverty perimeters.
- Increased soil erosion.
- Increased deforestation caused by charcoal production.
- Decreased soil fertility.
- Increased destruction of water catchment areas.
- Increased fuelwood shortages and scarcity.
- Improper land tenure system.
- Increased destruction of crops by wildlife in those villages around game reserves.
- Inadequate technical know-how on natural resource management.
These problems and issues lead to lower agricultural productivity and have their roots in many underlying causes, including a limited education level. For instance, some farmers are unaware that continued cultivation on steep land leads to soil erosion. Additionally, poor livestock management such as uncontrolled grazing or perpetual use of the same herding routes can also lead to the creation of gullies and soil erosion. Poorly planned drainage systems along road construction sites have also caused much damage to nearby crops due to flash floods. Generally, it is mistakenly thought that bush fires increase soil fertility, while they instead create barren land. The fact that there is no clearly defined policy on public lands lends itself to the degradation and destruction of such areas. Some of the main bottlenecks that hinder successful achievement of such intervention efforts are primarily linked to inadequacies of funding, transportation, infrastructure & equipment and a qualified extension staff.
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