How documented property rights gave a Tanzanian widow financial stability
Asiah Samila is a farmer with five children. She lives in Mlanda, a village located outside Iringa in central Tanzania.
When Asiah’s husband died, their youngest child was just a newborn. He left her with their house and farmland in Mlanda village. However, she did not have a title deed for the property, putting her in a difficult position.
In rural villages like Mlanda, women typically are not involved in family decisions. A woman is seen as a caregiver to children, a homemaker, and someone who is responsible for taking care of the needs of the husband. Few women own land.
Lacking Land Rights
Widowed women face many challenges when they don’t have official paperwork proving ownership of their land. In some cases, a widow’s in-laws may forcefully claim the land, displacing her.
Without documented property rights, widows can’t buy or sell their land, nor can they obtain access to bank loans.
In Asiah’s case, the neighboring school claimed that she was occupying part of their land, and Asiah was unable to show the paperwork needed to defend herself and her right to the property.
But with USAID’s help, Asiah was able to find a solution to the conflict.
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