Development and Local Knowledge: New Approaches to Issues in Natural Resources Management, Conservation, and Agriculture

By Alan Bicker; Paul Sillitoe et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 8

The globalization of indigenous rights in Tanzanian pastoralist NGOs

Greg Cameron1

In this chapter I focus on a Tanzanian pastoralist network called the Pastoralist Indigenous Non-Governmental Organizations (PINGOs) Forum where the original vision of the affiliate NGO members was undermined in part by the top-down programmes and structures of Western donors who were imposing notions of indigenous human rights from other international contexts. Section 1 examines the capture of the PINGOs Forum Secretariat by the leadership of one of the founder affiliate members, a process which saw the PINGOs Forum veer away from its original mandate of membership networking, advocacy and lobbying the Tanzanian government, to the international arena. Section 2 analyses the origins of indigenous rights processes and their potential decontextualization within the PINGOs Forum. Section 3 examines the murkier side of indigenous human rights initiatives within the PINGOs Forum, delineating the ways in which the PINGOs leadership, in practice, employed notions of the ‘indigenous’ in an exclusionary way so as to buttress their power base. Section 4 situates indigenous human rights, and donor fundraising and advocacy in the West, arguing that such perspectives exoticized local communities while having virtually no positive impact on the mission of PINGOs or the affiliate members. Section 5 argues that the communitarian model of society-state relations as propounded by some donors, and supported by the PINGOs leadership, was overly simplistic and based on notions of ‘dominant’ and ‘dominated’ groups and a monolithic state.


The emergence of the PINGOs Forum

In Tanzania, pastoralist and hunter-gatherer lands had been feeling the most immediate pressures since economic liberalization in the 1980s and 1990s, due to schemes that largely ignored their traditional land rights, whether it was from state farms, conservation interests, private agribusiness or in-migration by small scale agriculturalists. 2 Among pastoralists’ organizational responses to land alienation, my focus is on the emergence of pastoralist community-based organizations (CBOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The origins of these NGOs, mainly Maasai, varied, and encompassed a number of

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