The village that vanished : The roots of erosion in a Tanzanian village

Abstract: In the village'of Citing in the northern highlands of Tanzania, the factors: social stratification, land tenure, production strategies, investment patterns and the economic uncertainties of society are studied and their relationship to land degradation is examined. The main assumption of the study is that the causes of land degradation are so complex that a methodology that emphasises contextualisation has to be used. A methodological framework that considers inter-linkages between all these factors is developed and tested. The result of the test shows that contextualisation gives a more in-depth and complex explanation than conventional, positivist research. The study gives a detailed account of the relationship that various wealth groups have to land and land degradation in the village. It is found that all wealth groups are destructive to the land but in varying ways. The rich farmers are over-cultivating land marginal to agriculture, the middle peasants have too many cattle in the village while the poor peasants are so marginalised socially that they hardly influence land management. Those identified as having economic as well as social incentives to maintain soil fertility are the middle peasants, while the rich farmers are shown to be consciously soil-mining the former grazing areas.