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    Tanzania does not recognise the existence of indigenous peoples, even though Tanzania is home to 125-130 different ethnic groups.
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Tanzania government stops violations of the Maasais in Loliondo

A promising development in Tanzania, as the new government takes action to end the yearlong land dispute in Loliondo. It could be a historic turning point, says Julie Koch, IWGIA’s Executive Director. 

For two decades Masaai people in Loliondo in the Northern Tanzania have seen their land decreasing and their rights being violated. In August 2017, the Maasai peoples witnessed an unprecedented escalation of violence against their communities and livestock.

Estimates say that more than 5,700 houses in the area were burned to the ground between 13 August and 13 October. More than 25,000 men, women and children lost their homes and most of their personal property. Reports from Tanzania linked the violations to the private Dubai-based company Ortello Business Cooperation (OBC).    

IWGIA, therefore, issued an urgent alert in August to call on the international community and the government in Tanzania to stop the evictions and violations of the Maasai people.

A historic turning point?

Now, the government in Tanzania is taking important steps to solve the conflict in Loliondo by addressing the situation and the violations that have been committed. 

“I am really pleased that the concerns raised by IWGIA and the affected peoples in Loliondo have been heard. For the Maasai people that have been forcibly moved from their land since colonial times this could be a historic turning point,” says Julie Koch, IWGIA’s Executive Director.

No former government has succeeded in tackling the issues in Loliondo since the conflict broke out two decades ago when the Dubai-based company Ortello Business Cooperation (OBC) bought hunting licenses to a 1,500 square kilometres wildlife area including the Maasais’ traditional lands in Loliondo. 

IWGIA has throughout followed the worsening situation for indigenous peoples in Loliondo in close collaboration with local partners and will continuously support their efforts to ensure land rights. 

This is what happened after IWGIA's urgent alert:

  • 21 September 2017 The East African Court of Justice in Arusha opened a case brought to court by four villages. This is formally known as Case 10 of 2017, application 15. The main case is the villages Arash, Kirtalo, Olorien and Ololosokwan versus the Attorney General representing the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism of Tanzania
  • 23 September 2017 President John Pombe Magufuli officially visits Arusha and is informed about the Loliondo land conflict by Maasais from Loliondo who he meets face to face for the first time.
  • 7 October 2017 Tanzania’s President Magufuli reshuffles the cabinet and replaces the Minister of Tourism and Natural Resources responsible for wildlife management and hunting deals
  • 22 October 2017 The newly appointed Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Dr Hamisi Kigwangalla announces that no hunting licenses in Loliondo will be renewed and that the government will facilitate a land use plan that is friendly to community livelihood and conservation
  • 26 October 2017 The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism visits Ngorongoro and Loliondo to investigate the conflict in Loliondo and Ngorongoro conservation Area complex.
  • 5 November 2017 The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism fires the Wildlife Director and orders the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) to investigate the Ortello Business Cooperation’s executive director and former ministers for corruption and bribery.



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

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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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