AFRICA/TANZANIA - The Maasai people forced to leave their homes in the protected area of Ngorongoro

Friday, 10 March 2023

Malambo (Agenzia Fides) - The Tanzanian authorities are pushing the Maasai people to move away from the protected area of Ngorongoro, where most of the population resides, proposing financial 'aid' which is not sufficient for their minimal needs, as well as unsuitable settlement area. This was reported to Fides by local sources, highlighting what appear to be violations that some Maasai suffer with regard to their settlement rights. "Some" a local source tells Fides "have been forced to abandon their homes for a long period of time due to government restrictions as they are unprepared to live in a different place and lifestyle".
Despite their resistance, amid mass protests and clashes, Maasai leaders had few meetings in which they were able to express their opinions on the government's plan and suggest possible solutions. Some public facilities, such as schools, clinics, and non-governmental facilities providing social services, are controlled and monitored by the government through security personnel.
Ngorongoro District lies beyond the Ngorongoro Protected Area. Loliondo and Malambo are larger villages in the district, although they are not within the protected area. According to the testimonies collected, the situation in these areas is much worse than in Ngorongoro. The inhabitants were forcibly displaced, without any support and in a very short time. In the case of the Malambo region, residents of villages such as Irkarian, Sanjan, Ndinyika, were given 24 hours to leave, and those who refused to follow orders were jailed. In the Loliondo area, clashes took place, during which a policeman and Maasai fighters lost their lives. There is no clear information about this incident as the government claimed that those involved were not Maasai from the Tanzanian side, but were from the neighboring country of Kenya.
"The issue is more complicated and more dangerous than that of the Ngorongoro Protected Area. Local leaders have been imprisoned and accused of planning strong resistance which then escalated into armed conflict, although the incident occurred a few days after the leaders had already been arrested and imprisoned. Government security agents succeeded in evicting the Maasai from the villages in the Malambo area mentioned above.
The Maasai people are silenced as they have no influential representatives in high government offices or higher authorities who can come to their defense.
In Malambo, some Maasai elders faced fines when their herds were found grazing within the restricted areas where they previously lived. The government claimed that those places were uninhabited and there was no need to compensate them". (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 10/3/2023)