Livestock Research for Rural Development 26 (1) 2014 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Assessing dynamics of forced livestock movements, livelihoods and future development options for pastoralists/agro-pastoralists in Ruvuma and Lindi Regions, in the Southern Tanzania

P L Mwambene, R P Mbwile*, F U Hoeggel**, E C Kimbi, J Materu***, A Mwaiganju**** and S Madoffe*****

Tanzania Livestock Research Institute (TALIRI) Uyole, PO Box 6191, Mbeya, Tanzania
* Southern Highlands Livestock Development Association (SHILDA), PO Box 252, Iringa, Tanzania
** Center for Development and Environment (CDE), Berne University, Switzerland
*** Lindi Region Commissioner’s Office, Lindi,
**** Ruvuma Region Commissioner’s Office, Ruvuma,
***** Sokoine University of Agriculture, PO Box 3000, Morogoro Tanzania


The study that aimed at understanding the dynamics of forced livestock movements and pastoral livelihood and development options was conducted in Lindi and Ruvuma regions, using both formal and informal approaches. Data were collected from 60 randomly selected Agro-pastoralists/Pastoralists and native farmers using a structured questionnaire. Four villages were involved; two in Lindi region (Matandu and Mkwajuni) and the other two in Ruvuma region (Gumbiro and Muhuwesi). Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics of SPSS to generate means and frequencies.

The results indicate that a large number of animals moved into the study area following the eviction order of the government in Ihefu wetlands in 2006/2007. Lindi region was earmarked by the government to receive all the evicted pastoralists. However, by 2008 only 30% of the total cattle that were expected to move into the region had been received. Deaths of many animals on transit, selling of the animals to pay for transportation and other costs while on transit and many pastoralists settling in Coastal and Ruvuma regions before reaching their destinations were reported to be the reasons for the discrepancy observed. To mitigate anticipated conflicts between farmers and pastoralists, Participatory Land Use Management (PLUM) plans were developed in all the study villages in order to demarcate village land area into different uses, including grazing, cropping, settlement and forests. Land units for grazing were supposed to be provided with all necessary livestock infrastructures (dips, charcoal dams, livestock markets and stock routes). However, the land use plans were not able to prevent the anticipated conflicts because most of the livestock infrastructures were lacking, the land use boundaries were not clearly demarcated and there was limited enforcement of village by-laws, since most had not been enacted by the respective district councils. Similarly, the areas allocated for grazing were inadequate for the number of livestock available and thus the carrying capacity exceeded. Thus, land resource-based conflicts between farmers and pastoralists were emerging in the study areas for the reason that most of the important components in the PLUM plans were not in place. Nevertheless, the arrival of pastoralists in the study areas had positive effects on food security and growth of social interactions between pastoralists and farmers including marriages between them. Environmental degradations due to the arrival of livestock were also not evident. Thus, there is a need for the government to purposely set aside enough grazing land with all necessary infrastructures in place for the agro-pastoral/pastoral communities in the country.  

Keywords: conflicts, eviction, Ihefu wetland, livestock infrastructures, migration, participatory land use plans


Livestock production in Tanzania originates from a large resource base composed of different livestock species, breeds and types whose ownership and distribution differ from region to region. Three livestock production systems are commonly distinguished in the Tanzanian rangeland areas: commercial ranching, pastoralism and agro-pastoralism. Commercial ranching accounts for only 2% of the total cattle herd which is practiced by the National Ranching Company (NARCO). Pastoralism and Agro-pastoralism represent the traditional herd owned by small scale farmers which accounts for the remaining 98% of total cattle herd in the country (Mlote et al 2013). Pastoralism is concentrated in the northern plains of the country and is practiced in traditional grazing areas where climatic and soil conditions do not favor crop production. In pastoral production systems, livestock play a triple role; providing means for subsistence, serving as a store of wealth and a source of cash income. Agro-pastoralism, which was previously concentrated mostly in the Lake and Central zones of the country, involves cultivation of a range of crops and livestock keeping. Agro-pastoralism, is now thriving in many parts of the country due to the synergy between livestock and crops, and shortage of pastures and water in the domicile areas. Both pastoralism and agro-pastoralism  production systems have been increasing at more than 2% per annum (MLFD 2012) and supply more that 95% of the meat and 70% of milk consumed in the country (Njombe and Msanga 2008).  

Currently, pastoralim/agro-pastoralism production system in Tanzania has been facing shortage of natural pastures and water for livestock. Gradual climate change and an increase of both human and livestock populations in both production systems have been attributed to these challenges. Establishment of new and expansion of existing game reserves by the government and other land acquisitions by investors have further implicated to amplify the shortage of grazing and cropping land in the country. All these challenges have therefore, been forcing agro-pastoral/pastoral communities to migrate into different regions of Tanzania to search for pastures and water since 1970s (Mwambene et al 2010). In the recent past, the major pastoral/agro-pastoral communities who have been migrating with livestock in different parts of the country include Sukuma, Maasai, Barabaig, Kurya and Taturu (Tenga et al 2008). For example, in 1967, the Sukuma community migrated from the Lake Zone to the Lake Rukwa basin, and later to Usangu and Morogoro plains in 1972. The Maasai and Barabaig from the northern Tanzania migrated to Morogoro and Usangu plains before independence (Lukumbo 1998; Pingos Forum et al 2007; Walsh 2007). All these movements were aimed at searching for pastures, cropping land and water.   

Despite these livestock movements to cope against feeds and water shortages, most of the national policies were and still are based on the implicit notion that agro-pastoralism/pastoralism is not the most efficient use of land. Consequently, even in their new destinations, pastoral land has continued to be converted to farm land by small and large scale crop farmers and to conservation in the form of game parks, game reserves and game controlled areas. In this context, pastoralists/agro-pastoralists are persistently forced to move to marginal areas along the periphery. As a result, land degradation along the shrinking pastoral areas due to overstocking has been increasing and conflicts with farmers and game reserve authorities are emerging frequently. Despite these happenings, the government does not have any strategies to adapt the pastoral production system to emerging challenges. This situation has led to many discussions and triggered a variety of political arguments in the recent past decades.  

Following further invasion of conserved areas due to overstocking in the marginal areas and increased conflicts with farmers and game reserve authorities, in 2007, the government decided to forcibly evict a large number of pastoralists from Ihefu wetland in Mbeya region. The reasons for eviction among others included environmental degradation purported to be a result of pastoral/agro-pastoral activities in the area. All the evicted pastoralists were ordered to go and settle in Lindi region where the indigenous people of the region are traditionally non livestock keepers. However, according to Ruvuma and Coastal region authorities, some of the evicted pastoralists, on their way to Lindi, decided to settle in these regions following the quarantine imposed in 2008 owing to Rift Valley Fever (RVF) outbreak. Even after lifting the RVF quarantine, pastoralists/agro-pastoralists were reluctant to move to Lindi region while others were also moving out of their new destinations in Lindi region to Ruvuma and Coastal regions. Before the current study, the reasons for reluctance of the majority of pastoralists/agro-pastoralists to move to Lindi region were unknown. Their dynamics, livelihoods, development options and challenges they faced into new enforced destinations were undocumented. Similarly, the reactions and response of inhabitants of Lindi, Ruvuma and Coastal regions who are traditionally non livestock keepers upon the arrival of pastoralists into their locations were not known. Social, economic and environmental impacts of the rapid influx of livestock into new locations were as well not appraised. This study, therefore, aimed at assessing the dynamics of forced livestock movements, pastoral livelihood options and challenges they were facing in Lindi and Ruvuma regions. The findings of the present study would contribute to conflicts mitigation between new and inhabitant communities and support policy decision through a better understanding of important environmental and socio-economic aspects of coexistence of pastoralists and farmers in Lindi and Ruvuma Regions.

Materials and methods

Study area 

The study was conducted in Lindi (Mkwajuni and Matandu villages) and Ruvuma region (Muhuwesi and Gumbiro villages) (Figure 1). Both Lindi and Ruvuma regions lie between latitudes 1100″ and 1500″S and longitudes 3700″ and 41 00″E. The regions have almost a unimodal rainfall pattern that starts in November and ends in April/May every year. The prolonged dry season extending from June to November, is a limiting factor for forage availability.

Figure 1: Map of Tanzania showing the study regions and villages

The current estimated populations of cattle in Lindi and Ruvuma regions stand at 30,784 and 75,366, respectively (URT 2012). The Lindi and Ruvuma regions have a total land area of about 140,000 km2 of which 86 percent is used for agricultural activities, wildlife and forestry. Of the total agricultural land, about 62.5 percent is communally owned through local authorities for expansion of cropping activities and grazing of animals, whereas about 37.5 percent of the total land is privately owned for different uses. Farm size per household for cropping activities is moderate (4–15 acres) (URT 2010). 

Lindi and Ruvuma regions are divided into seven agro-ecological zones (AEZs) based on altitude, soil types, land use, climatic condition, natural vegetation, agricultural suitability and other economic activities. Among these AEZs, the maize, cassava-cashew and rice-cassava-cashew are the main ones. They occupy about 70 percent of the total area of the two regions, mainly the large part of Songea rural, Namtumbo, Tunduru, Lindi rural and Kilwa districts, and are currently invaded by pastoralists/agro-pastoralists (Mussei et al 2013). 

Lindi rural, Kilwa, Songea rural and Tunduru districts were chosen for this study because they currently have a relatively large number of migrated agro-pastoralists. Other livestock species such as goats, indigenous chickens, sheep and turkeys are kept in the areas and various food crops produced. In these areas, crop production is the dominant agricultural activity while livestock keeping is a new economic activity after being introduced by migrating agro-pastoralists. The predominant natural vegetation along the study areas is the tropical savannah, mainly with grasses such as Hyperenia rufa, Pannicum maximum (Guinea grass), Setaria sphacelata (Giant setaria) and Heteropogon contortus with somehow modest to thick natural trees in almost all the study districts (URT 2010).

Cattle management system in the entire study area is extensive which consists of herded grazing in the communal grazing land, fallow land and crop fields after crop harvest. The system is largely traditional and subsistence oriented with very minimal management inputs in terms of breeding, disease control and supplementary feeds (Mwambene et al 2012). The farmers have also little control over the natural feed resources. Indigenous cattle are used for draught, sales, milk, meat, savings and cultural commitments. However, cassava, maize and cashew nuts are the main crops grown by native farmers.  

Research design 

The study encompassed both formal (using a structured questionnaire) and informal (using participatory rural appraisals and focused group discussions) approaches. A cross-sectional research design was employed in this study whereby information from the farmers and district authorities were collected at one point in time. To obtain the desired data, purposive sampling was used to select one village per district, making the total number of study villages to be 4 of the 21 villages with migrated agro-pastoralists. Selection of study villages was based on respective extension staff suggestions for the villages with relatively large numbers of received agro-pastoralists and their accessibility. In each village, fifteen households (ten crop farmers and five agro-pastoralists) were randomly selected using random numbers from the lists of crop farmers and agro-pastoralists, making a sample size of 60 households (Table 2). Data were collected during the commencement of dry season, from June to August 2012. 

Data collection 

A structured questionnaire containing both closed and open-ended questions was used for data collection. The questionnaire was administered through individual interview of household heads by the research team with assistance from the extension staff. Other members of the household were allowed to supplement relevant information during the interview. The questionnaire was pre-tested to check clarity and appropriateness of the questions. Some of the information collected during interviews were supported by on-site observation. The questionnaire was designed to obtain information on general household characteristics, socio-economic activities, traditional management practices, production objectives, socio-cultural interactions, farmers perceptions on the arrival and coexistence with agro-pastoralists, socio-economic and environment impacts, production challenges and interventions options. Similar information particularly on the arrival of agro-pastoralists, reactions of farmers, socio-economic impacts and plans for sustainable production and development options for conflicts mitigation between native farmers and migrants were also collected from the extension and other key district staff particularly from the departments of lands, agriculture, livestock, natural resources/environment and community development using PRA and focused group discussions that were guided by a checklist in order to crosscheck the consistency of information previously provided by the farmers. 

Stakeholders’ workshops 

Stakeholders’ workshops were organized in each study district in order to harmonize and validate the research findings obtained from farmers and other stakeholders, and to identify major issues that required attention. They further aimed at initiating and fostering dialogue between farmers, livestock keepers and the government from village level upwards in order to come up with issues of concern on agro-pastoral livelihoods and sustainable management of Natural Resources basing on the outcome of the formal and informal surveys. The stakeholders’ workshops included the district council chairperson, district executive officer, planning officer, natural resources officer, land officer, community development officer, agricultural officer, veterinary officer, livestock officer, ward councillors, ward executive officers, village executive officers, ward and village agriculture and livestock officers, farmers and livestock keeper representatives. A brief summary of the research findings for each study district was presented by the research team, and was followed by plenary sessions before reaching final deliverables.  

Data processing and analysis 

Qualitative data from the field survey were coded and analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS, 2008) computer software in order to generate descriptive statistics such as means and frequencies or percentages. Workshop deliberations were synthesized and summarised.

Results and discussions

Arrival of Pastoralists in Lindi region 

Six agro-pastoral families were reported to arrive in Lindi region from Ifakara in Morogoro region since 2003. However, a large number of pastoralists arrived in the region following the government eviction order of them from Ihefu wetland in October, 2006. Preparations to receive the pastoralists/agro-pastoralists were reported to start before their arrival in new destinations. The arrangements included introduction of village land use plans using participatory village land use management (PLUM) approach (NLUPC 1998), development of necessary livestock infrastructures and provision of veterinary services. According to the respondents, a total of 34 villages were selected and about 325,000 ha of grazing land set aside for 163,000 cattle projected for the region (Lindi RCC 2011). Out of the 34 villages selected, 26 villages had land use plans by 2006 with a total of 113,684 ha of grazing land set aside to accommodate 56,842 cattle (Table 1).

Table 1: Number of villages with land use plans ready to receive pastoralists in 2006/2007 in Lindi region





Lindi rural


Number of villages set aside to  receive pastoralists





Number of Ha set aside  for grazing





Number of cattle projected for the area





Number of villages with PLUM plans were implemented





Total grazing area set aside (ha)





Number of cattle expected (2 cattle/ha)





The grazing area set aside to accommodate 56,842 cattle is in agreement with the 307 movement permits that were received by Lindi region from Mbeya region in 2006 indicating the coming of 50,168 cattle, 2,671 goats, 6,602 sheep and 244 donkeys to the region. However, the actual number of animals received up to August, 2008 was only 30%, 22%, 20% and 24% cattle, goats, sheep and donkeys, respectively against the movement permits (Table 2). Nachingwea district refused to receive any agro-pastoralists.

Table 2: Number of livestock received by Lindi region by August 2008

District Councils selected to receive pastoralists in Lindi region





Kilwa District





Lindi rural















% received against movement permits issued





Several reasons were reported to be responsible for the decline of number of animals received against movement permits issued, including;

  1. Loss of animals while on transit to Lindi. It was reported that a) many animals died mainly of diseases and starvation on transit, and b) many animals were sold to pay for transportation and other costs incurred on transit.

  2. Loss of animals while in Lindi. Many animals that managed to arrive in Lindi died due to limited veterinary services, including lack of functioning dips. There were only 4 dips in the region but only 3 were in use (Table 3).

  3. Some of the evicted pastoralists, on their way to Lindi, decided to settle in these regions following the quarantine imposed in 2008 owing to Rift Valley Fever (RVF) outbreak

  4. Some pastoralists decided to settle in other regions (Coastal and Ruvuma regions) or other places than the designated districts in Lindi region.

  5. Decision of pastoralists to abscond Lindi region after their perception of the poor production environments and unavailability of livestock infrastructures in the region.

Establishment of village land use plans in the villages selected to receive the pastoralists had an overall objective of demarcating village land area into different land use units such as cropping, grazing, settlement, forestry and reserved land before the arrival of pastoralists to mitigate conflicts expected between farmers and the agro-pastoralists. The introduction of land use plans included also provision of all necessary livestock infrustuctures such as water, dip tanks, stock routes and livestock markets.

Table 3: Number of villages with land use plans, pastoralists and livestock infrastructures in Lindi region by March 2012





Number of villages with land use plans



Number of villages with pastoralists immigrants


2 (Mkwajuni and Mnyangala)

Number of pastoralists’ households


19 (18 in Mkwajuni, 1 in Mnyangala)

Number of cattle under pastoralists



Number of dips


2 (all not in use)

Number of charcoal dams


1 (construction not completed)

Number of livestock markets



It was reported that after conducting the village land use plans, village by-laws were proposed. The objective of village by-laws was to provide a controlling management framework for sustainability of the village PLUM plans. To be legally operational, the by-laws had to be approved by the District Council. All the villages visited had no approved by-laws. It was further reported that customary certificates of land occupancy could be provided to individuals and groups within the village boundaries once the village PLUM plans were produced and if the village had a land registry suitable for storing documents. None of the villages visited had a working land registry office.  

Arrival of Pastoralists in Ruvuma region 

Ruvuma region had also a small number of pastoralists who moved into the region since 2004. The majority moved into the region in 2006/2007 following their eviction from Ihefu. They were settled in Songea, Namtumbo and Tunduru districts after the region accepting to accommodate them on temporary bases following the imposed quarantine against RVF disease outbreak in 2008. Some pastoralists went to Lindi to have a survey of the available natural resources for their animals and almost all preferred to settle in Ruvuma region as compared to Lindi region. Ruvuma region, which is mainly covered with miombo woodland vegetation is more open and therefore, allows for more pasture growth than in Lindi region. The region is also endowed with many permanent rivers.  

Different viewpoints emerged among the leaders and the Ruvuma public in general on the continued stay of the pastoralists in the region. The Songea and Tunduru district leaders encouraged the settlement of the herders in their districts while in Namtumbo the opposite was true. After receiving the pastoralists, the districts planned the land uses by adopting the recommended land use model as it was the case with Lindi region. A total of 8 PLUM plans were developed in 4 villages both in Songea and Tunduru districts (Table 4).

Table 4: Wards and Villages with pastoralists in Songea and Tunduru districts



Villages with pastoralists

Villages with land use plans

Number  of Pastoralists

Number of cattle













As was in Lindi region, the livestock infrastructures were not in place. There was only one primary market and a dip at Mhepai in Songea and the same were planned for Muhuwesi in Tunduru.   

Co-existence of Pastoralists and Farmers 

Farmers and pastoralists are expected to enjoy a peaceful coexistence as long as land resource-based factors that may instigate conflicts between them are avoided. The intention of the PLUM plan to mitigate expected conflicts between farmers and pastoralists is something to be praised. However, the PLUM plans had many components missing. As a result, conflicts were still emerging at the extent of 40%. The instigating factors mentioned were:

a.  By-laws proposed for protecting PLUM plans were not enacted as well as not followed due to lack of law enforcement. The allocated grazing areas under village land use management were for communal use and not for pastoralists alone. The pastoralists, although allowed to own plots in the settlement units and possessing areas for cultivation, cultivated and made their settlement in the grazing lands because the grazing land units were located very far from the centre of the village. Therefore, lack of security for their livestock was pointed out to be the main reason for the pastoralists to stay and cultivate within the grazing land. Following this situation, some farmers continued also to cultivate in the grazing units by arguing that they have been cultivating in the areas for a very long time.

b.   Indistinguishable boundaries between land use units and between villages were observed. A situation of unclear boundaries between villages and game reserve was also noted in Tunduru district between Muhuwesi village and a game reserve bordering the village. The available village land use maps were shown by coordinates (GPS readings) which could not be easily translated by the villagers.

c.  Grazing land was insufficient to sustain available number of livestock all the year-round. There were, therefore, frequent livestock movements in and out of the villages caused by inadequacy of feed resources in the grazing areas, particularly during the dry season. The area set aside for grazing was fixed and meant for just a few pastoralists and their herds (not more than 5 pastoralists). The number of pastoralists in some villages e.g. Gumbiro in Songea and Mkwanjuni in Lindi was more than 16. The pastoralists were aware of this situation which threatened the effectiveness of their production system. They were therefore, forced to access dry season grazing areas found along permanent rivers within or outside their villages.

d.   Lack of necessary livestock infrastructures. Lack of water in the grazing areas forced the pastoralists to move to wherever water sources could be found. This situation was more serious in Lindi region.

e.  Pastoralists from different villages/districts/regions continued to enter into villages without any prior permission. Since the Ihefu episode to the study period, people in Lindi, Mtwara and Ruvuma regions continued to come into contact with many herds of cattle that moved from different places within or outside their regions. They were looking for either places to settle after their eviction from neighbouring regions or looking for feed resources. Most of these pastoralists came into the areas without prior notice to the village leadership. 

Trends of people and livestock production environment 

Since the Ihefu period, when the farmers in Lindi and Ruvuma regions abruptly found themselves living together with pastoralists with large herds of cattle and very different cultural background, many noticeable socio-economic changes were reported by farmers and other stakeholders to be happening, such as:

  1. Improved food security: Since the arrival of agro-pastoralists, food security was reported to be improving, particularly in the villages where agro-pastoralists were in a considerable number. Most agro-pastoralists are also good crop cultivators. They use ox-driven ploughs to cultivate large areas of land compared to local famers. However, farmers were being persuaded to use ox-driven ploughs for crop cultivation. This was observed at Mkwajuni village where farmer group of ox-plough users was been formed.

  2. Increased availability of meat and milk: Lindi and Ruvuma regions were no longer facing meat and milk shortages as they used to be. There was an increase of meat business in towns. The fear of cattle among local farmers was changing and by then some farmers started keeping animals. The study communities started to foresee a future whereby they would diversify their means for livelihoods by incorporating livestock keeping into their production systems. Diversified socio-economic activities were perceived to increase not only income but also improvement of diet from availability of milk and meat.

  3. Social interaction between agro-pastoralists and farmers including marriages between them was also mentioned to be growing.

  4. Ill feeling against local and foreign investors: However, there was an increase in local people perception that the investors including the agro-pastoralists were coming to grab their land. This stimulated hatred towards pastoralists. 

  5. Local people’s tolerance of agro-pastoralists was declining in response to the news which was frequently reported from different places in the country on the fighting between farmers and pastoralists and the eviction instructions by the government to pastoralists. Repeatedly environmental degradation was alleged to be a result of pastoral activities in the areas they were evicted from. These situations led many farmers to believe that cattle were the main causes of land degradation and therefore, would bring big damage to their land.

Pastoralists/agro-pastoralists’ situation 

From pastoralists’ point of view, the research team noted the following;

a)   Many evicted pastoralists from Ihefu reported that they became poorer than before by coming to Lindi and Ruvuma regions. They referred to the many deaths of their animals and to the payments they had to make for transportation costs and to the village leaders for their permission to stay in the villages.

b)   Young and elder pastoralists showed fear for their future livelihoods. They reported that the effectiveness of their pastoral production system practiced before the Ihefu episode was threatened and could no longer be the same. This is based on the fact that movement of livestock during the dry season as coping strategies for pastures and water shortages could not be practiced in the PLUMs.  

c)   In addition to the very serious problem of water shortage for both humans and livestock, the pastoralists reported that Lindi region, particularly Lindi district has limited availability of pastures which forced many of them to leave Lindi regions. Lindi region is endowed with coastal forests which are modest and fragmented. The forest patches could be very dense such that grass growth underneath was very limited (Figure 2). Livestock also found it difficult to penetrate through.

Figure 2: Dense forests in Lindi district which restrict grazing and therefore
discourage the stay of the pastoralists in Lindi district


Based on the findings observed in the current study, it is concluded that;


The study team thus recommends the following;

  1. Because the grazing area in villages is not enough for the number of livestock available and for the intended pastoral production system and because it is difficult for the villages themselves to allocate enough land for the needs of the pastoralists, there is a need for the government to purposely set aside enough grazing land for the pastoral communities.

  2. Some agro-pastoralists own more than 1,000 heads of cattle. These pastoralists could be very good internal investors if grazing land is granted to them for ownership. The government should seriously consider the possibility of ensuring that these pastoralists are given an opportunity to individually own land.


This study was undertaken with the financial support from the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) through the Eastern and Southern Africa Partnership Program (ESAPP). The authors would like to extend their gratitude to the sponsor and District council authorities for the cooperation they received. The team is indebted greatly to the ward and village leaderships and to the farmers and pastoralists/agro-pastoralists whom without their willingness to collaborate in this study would have not been completed.  


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Received 8 October 2013; Accepted 18 October 2013; Published 1 January 2014

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