• Indigenous peoples in Tanzania

    Indigenous peoples in Tanzania

    Tanzania does not recognise the existence of indigenous peoples, even though Tanzania is home to 125-130 different ethnic groups.
  • Peoples

    125-130 ethnic groups, falling mainly into the four categories of Bantu, Cushite, Nilo-Hamite and San, live in Tanzania.
  • Current state

    2015: New government in Tanzania elected. A few months after indigenous peoples found themselves the victims of government actions.
    2016-17: Evictions of indigenous peoples in Kilosa, Mvomero and Morogoro Vijijini districts.
  • Rights

    There is no specific national policy or legislation on indigenous peoples.


Although Tanzania voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 and is the home to 125-130 different ethnic groups, the state does not recognize the existence of indigenous peoples. There is no specific national policy or legislation on indigenous peoples, but Akiye, Hadzabe, Barabaig and Maasai have organized themselves and their struggles around the concept and movement of indigenous peoples.

In addition, various policies, strategies and programs are continuously being developed that do not reflect the interests of indigenous peoples in terms of access to land and natural resources, basic social services and justice, resulting in an increasingly political environment. hostile and deteriorating. both shepherds and hunter-gatherers.

Indigenous peoples in Tanzania

It is estimated that Tanzania has a total of 125-130 ethnic groups, which fall mainly into the four categories of Bantu, Cushite, Nilo-Hamite and San.

While there may be more ethnic groups that identify themselves as indigenous peoples, four groups have organized themselves and their struggles around the concept and movement of indigenous peoples. The four groups are the hunter-gatherer Akiye and Hadzabe, and the pastoralist Barabaig and Maasai.

Although it is difficult to arrive at exact figures since the ethnic groups are not included in the population census, it is estimated that the Maasai in Tanzania has 430,000 people, the Datoga group to which Barabaig belongs has 87,978 people, the Hadzabe 1,000 and the Akiye 5,268 people.

Although the means of subsistence of these groups are diverse, they all share a strong attachment to the land, different identities, vulnerability and marginalization. They also experience similar problems in relation to the insecurity of land tenure, poverty and inadequate political representation.

Violations of the human rights of indigenous peoples in Tanzania

Indigenous peoples in Tanzania continue to suffer human rights violations. The human rights situation of pastoralists in the Morogoro region worsened at the end of December 2016 and the beginning of 2017, when indigenous peoples were evicted in the districts of Kilosa, Mvomero and Morogoro Vijijini.

This was driven by a recent eviction operation declared in December 2016 by the Regional Commissioner of Morogoro, the Minister of the Interior and the District Commissioners in the region.

Land grabbing and land conflicts in Tanzania are also a great challenge for indigenous peoples. They are often related to the expansion of national parks, and the invasion of pastoralist pastures in Western Kilimanjaro is one. There were other attempts to grab land related to attempts to annex pastoralist villages to national parks and game reserves, such as the case of the village of Kimotorok in northern Tanzania.

The eviction attempts in Loliondo were concealed within the broad justification for the "conservation of wildlife" of the Serengeti ecosystem, an excuse that has long been used to undermine pastoral livelihoods in the Loliondo area.

The development of infrastructure also causes the dispossession of lands for indigenous peoples in Tanzania. One of the most serious cases is the conflict in Hai district, in northern Tanzania, between seven mainly Masai pastoralist villages, on the one hand, and Kilimanjaro airport, on the other.

Tanzania: Report documents human rights violations

A survey conducted in ten districts of six regions of mainland Tanzania reveals deterioration of the situation of indigenous peoples and gross violations of their human rights. Evictions that take place with impunity are among the most serious problems found. Reports of various enquiry commissions are apparently simply shelved by the responsible authorities.

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IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending indigenous peoples’ rights. Read more.

Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for indigenous peoples worldwide. Read The Indigenous World.

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