Not Affected the Same Way: Gendered Outcomes for Commons and Resilience Grabbing by Large-Scale Forest Investors in Tanzania


Gmür, Désirée. 2020. “Not Affected the Same Way: Gendered Outcomes for Commons and Resilience Grabbing by Large-Scale Forest Investors in Tanzania.” Land 9 (4): 122.

Author: Désirée Gmür


The topic of large-scale land acquisition (LSLA) has attracted wide interest in the literature and the media. However, there is little work on the gendered institutional changes and gendered impacts on common pool resources (CPR) due to LSLA. The aim of this paper is to address these impacts. This is done by discussing data from participatory research (using the methods of participatory observation, semi-structured and narrative interviews, biographies, focus group discussions, value chain analysis, and household questionnaires) on a forestry plantation operated by the British investor, the New Forests Company (NFC) in the Kilolo district, in the Iringa region. The institutional arrangements regarding different land-related common pool resources from pre-colonial times until the arrival of this investment will be shown. Furthermore, how these arrangements have changed over time and since the LSLA is presented. Then, the effects on men’s and women’s access to CPR and, thus, the impacts on their capacities to perform their reproductive work and resilience will be addressed. Furthermore, the paper focuses on how different stakeholders in the land deal (the investor, the government, different local people) make use of these different institutions to push through their own interests regarding the land. Finally, the paper looks at collective compensation payments (such as monetary compensation and jobs) and forms of corporate social responsibility (CSR) schemes, and how they are perceived emically. It is argued that the LSLA in this case clearly grabs land and land-related common pool resources that were previously held in common. Women, such as daughters, sisters, and wives, had specific access and property rights to these. Thus, the paper concludes that this grabbing lowers women’s resilience and deprives them of important resources for their livelihoods, and for food and cash production at critical times. CSR programmes and compensation rarely reach women and are, for them, an anti-politics machine, hiding the grabbing processes, and impacting the poorest of the poor, while the company uses a development discourse to legitimise its activities. In fact, the people perceive the investment as trapping them in underdevelopment.

Keywords: large scale land acquisitions, gender, institutions, common pool resources, common property, land tenure transformations, corporate social responsibility, social anthropology, resilience

Topics: Development, Gender, Land Grabbing, Rights, Property Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Tanzania

Year: 2020

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