Tanzanian women are breaking new ground by owning and managing their own farmland, thanks to a government-supported initiative. Among them is Zainab Hamis Hussein, a farmer in the semi-arid district of Ikungi, Singida in central Tanzania.
Hussein was one of over 2 000 women who have obtained a land certificate as part of a three-year programme aimed at empowering women and adolescent girls, which began in 2021.
Before the initiative, women in Tanzania had limited options to register land under their names, leaving them vulnerable to losing the land they had farmed for decades.
According to research by the Tanzanian National Bureau of Statistics, only 9% of women had sole ownership of land, and 25% had joint ownership, compared to 30% of men who had sole ownership and seven percent joint ownership. Furthermore, when women did own land, it was typically smaller and had lower yields.
The initiative, funded by the Korea International Cooperation Agency and implemented by UN Women, supported the Ikungi District Council in Singida to issue Certificates of Customary Rights of Occupancy (CCROs) for women’s sole or joint land ownership.
The programme modernised land demarcation with a gender-responsive approach and advanced technology, issuing over 5 360 CCROs as a result, with over 2 000 issued to women.
Hussein, who now has joint ownership of her family’s land, said, “Now I have more decision-making power in terms of what we do with our land, what to cultivate, and how much we can sell. I am also considering using the land as collateral to be able to get a loan to further grow my farming business.”
After receiving financial and entrepreneurship training, Hussein diversified her farm, and her sunflower yields soared from 5 bags per year to 16 bags.
The programme also linked women farmers with agro-dealers and significantly decreased the incidence of land disputes and land grabbing in the Ikungi district, dropping from 40 cases per year in four targeted villages from 2019 to 2020 to five cases from 2021 to 2022.
The success of the programme has empowered women like Hussein, who have not only gained ownership of their land but have also increased their income and gained decision-making power in their households. Women like her are not only growing crops but are also growing their businesses and advocating for women’s land rights in their communities.