Widows determined to fight for land ownership rights

Widows of the Magole ward in Kilosa District have shed tears in front of leaders of Greenbelt School Trust Fund organisation (GSTF) soon after been educated that they have customary rights to own land up to 50 hectors.

They found themselves crying during a training organised by GSTF through funding from the Foundation for Civil Society. The training was on the 1999 Land Act and Village Land Act NO. 4 and 5, while issues of their involvements in the management and administration of land rights in villages councils and land conflict resolution also came into the limelight.

Speaking on her experience, a widow from  Magole ward Anna Chilangile whose half hector of land was taken by the village land council after the death of her husband, says at the beginning she thought it was a right decision but after the awareness she decided to take the issue to the court.

“Many times we are being deprived from our lands rights. I am a widow with four children and my husband died a while ago but village leaders have grabbed a portion of my land and reallocated it to a businessman claiming that my land was so big for ordinary use. I did not know what to do, but thanks God now I have the knowledge to claim it back. I will fight for what is mine, till I get it back," says Anna.

CSOs give voice to the voiceless

Any government that adheres to rule of law and good governance has to embrace the role that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) play in social-economic development of the country.

CSOs are actually an indispensable government partners in the promotion of universal values around human rights, social development and governance.

The Network of CSOs in Ruangwa District (Mmakiru) has proven to be one of umbrella non-governmental organisations that can play a role.

If well utilised, its perspective, expertise and partnership-building capabilities cannot only promote democratic values in the society, but also enhance people’s participation in development of the nation. But the government’s backing is inevitable if it to sustain CSOs activities without heavily relying on donor support.

Above all, most network activities complement the government’s own responsibility to the society.

The Mmakiru network has helped CSOs to join forces in devising strategies, securing funding and executing plans.
It focuses on, but not limited to, education, health, agriculture and social issues.

Mmakiru recently organised three different symposia on writing of a new constitution.

During the symposia, people got an opportunity to comment on the draft new constitution.

The symposia were held in Mbekenyera, Mandawa and Ruangwa wards for people from remote areas, in particular, to also get a say over what they want to appear in the supreme law.The Union structure, administration, judiciary and human rights mainly featured during the dialogue.

Govt asked to prioritize orphans and unprivileged children

The government has been advised to cooperate with civil society organisations in supporting orphans and vulnerable children in order to reduce the growing number of street children.

The plea was made by the project coordinator of Huruma Aids Concern and Care (Hacoca), a civil society organisation engaged in supporting HIV patients and vulnerable children, Mr Johnson William, who addressed stakeholders during training on how to empower vulnerable groups in society.

“I would like to call upon the government and other institutions to cooperate with CSOs in making sure these vulnerable children are getting support for their future,” he said.

Mr William said the workshop, which was funded by the Foundation for Civil Society Organisations, aimed at building capacity for civil society stakeholders to facilitate their efforts to reach the entire community.
He said it’s high time the government considered taking care of vulnerable children including orphans especially those living in rural areas.

For his part, workshop facilitator, Mr Hamis Kiloya said civil society organisations lacked sufficient cooperation from the government in executing their duties, urging the government to maximize their support to the organisations.

“ It is obvious that in many areas the government has been slow to support CSOs, we all understand that there are various challenges including shortage of funds, but we still believe that the government can assist CSOs in this matter,” said Mr Kiloya.



Law enforcers, ward officers learn sign language

Police officers, medical doctors and ward executives in Ilemela District have completed a seven-day training on the sign language conducted by experts from the Tanzania Deaf Association (Chavita) through funds from Foundation for Civil Society.

The training facilitator Mr Henry Mtasiwa, said the training was aimed at empowering the officers with skills that would enable them to communicate easily with people with hearing disability in the course of their duties.
“We are not dumb or deaf as people prefer to address us, the best name for us is people with hearing problems and we are human beings, therefore this training will also help the officers to campaign for us against this stigmatization,” said Mr Mtasiwa.

Additionally, Devotha Mtesigwa, a teacher at Bwiru Boys Secondary School, said the training on sign language should involve schools as teachers often face a communication barrier when dealing with students with hearing disability.
“There are over 50 students in my school with the hearing problem. We need sign language experts to help them understand what their teachers teach them,” she said.

For her part, Ilemela District Commissioner Amina Masenza said district authorities will look into the possibility of establishing a special school for people and pupils with the hearing disability in the district.

Women trained on marriage Act

In many communities of Africa, women are subjected to abuse and denial of their rights. The dominant patriarchy system in most of the African societies and the low level of awareness and understanding of human rights are among the factors that contribute to increase the problem. That situation stimulates some civil society organisations to initiate projects to support in community education, awareness creation and capacity building on women rights.

Women of Pera ward in Bagamoyo have been trained on marriage act of 1971 to increase their awareness on women's rights and influence long lasting change.The training which was organized by CHACODE Community Development Organization with the funding from Foundation for Civil Society, also aimed to increase their confident to demand their inheritance rights.

One of the training participants, Hadija Salum confessed that many women in rural areas often lose the right to inherit marital assets upon widowhood which is mainly caused by their lack of information on their rights and inability to access legal services.“Another reason might be poverty, illiteracy, lack of guts and own decision making, together with the total dependence of us to men, this has been a great obstacle towards achieving an equitable and just society,” says Hadija.

Earlier during the opening of the training, social community welfare officer of Bagamoyo, Anthony Nyange advised the organization to use intended fund wisely to educate community especially women on their rights.

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