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Tanzanian Farmers Are Paying For ‘Conservation’ With Their Land, Lives

Tanupriya Singh

Located in Tanzania’s Southern Highlands, the district of Mbarali in the Mbeya region has long been considered the country’s “rice basket”. However, for the past year, smallholder farmers in the area have been unable to cultivate the grain even to securely feed themselves, let alone produce for the market.  These farmers are among 21,252 people in Mbarali who are facing eviction from their land under the guise of a ‘biodiversity conservation’ project— namely, the expansion of the Ruaha National Park (RUNAPA) — being undertaken by the Tanzanian government, with funding from the World Bank. There is an extensive history of displacement of local communities along the Great Ruaha River.