Journal article Open Access

Land use change patterns and livelihood dynamics on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Soini, Eija

This study is about changes in land use and interactions of land use change and livelihoods in the Chagga farming system on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. An aerial photo interpretation and fragmentation analysis of the years 1961, 1982 and 2000 was conducted covering approximately the Kirua Vunjo Division, a transect of 152 km2 from the forest reserve edge to the plains. Earlier changes were traced from literature review. The results show the expansion of cultivation to more marginal land down the slope, the disappearance and extreme fragmentation of bush land and appearance and expansion of settlements. The home garden area has experienced some specific internal change, but has not expanded down the slope. In the 1960s there were small open fields and patches of grazing lands amongst home gardens. In the 1980s the area was more uniformly covered by homegardens. Since then it has become patchy again as new homesteads have been built on subdivided farms and more food is produced on the higher slopes. Population pressure and the ensuing expansion of agriculture to more marginal land, intensification of the homegarden system, together with climate changes affecting the water supplies, have caused changes in farmers livelihoods. As land scarcity now hinders expansion of agriculture, farm size has seriously decreased, common resources have become scarce, and prices of coffee in the world market remain low, farmers are trying to intensify and diversify their farm production. Local initiative is leading to change, but the locally conceived alternatives are too few and lack integrated approaches of technical agricultural research, economic analysis, and policy studies and reforms. Non-agricultural activities and paid employment are becoming increasingly important. However, due to considerable entry barriers to remunerable off-farm jobs, not all households enjoy equal access to attractive non-farm opportunities. The future welfare of the area will depend on increasing the marketable knowledge and skills of the population that will enable it to become integrated in the economy of the region and the country.
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