Identity cards for Maasai in northern Tanzania

Electronic identification for communities in Ngorongoro.

Maasai pastoral communities living within the confines of north Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) are to be issued with electronic identity cards as part of measures to control the number of people entering the conservation area.

The plan also includes the branding of livestock and is designed to establish the number of people and farm animals living in Ngorongoro.

The government says the measures will help authorities to identify visiting herdsmen from neighbouring countries, some of whom allegedly masquerade as traditional Massai pastoralists to avail of grazing land as well as local social services.

The government says the initiative will also protect the conservation area from the negative impact of increased human activity, particularly near the Ngorongoro volcanic crater, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site.

The idendification cards will be issued to “legitimate residents” following a people and livestock census, scheduled to begin on 1 July, in tandem with the establishment of a lands planning commission in the NCA.

Pastoralists, however, have expressed concern that the upcoming census will be used to evict legitimate residents from the conservation area which was established in 1959.