Development Interventions and Environmental Change in Maswa District, 1920 to 1960.

Jonas Leonard Shashen


Negative environmental changes have been a major problem in Maswa District and their causes have been perceived differently in the existing literature. Some scholars have viewed environmental changes as human-induced phenomenon others have perceived it as a product of natural processes. Yet great emphasis has been placed on the failure of local people to adhere to the principles for modern environmental conservation. This view portrays local people as harbingers of environmental destruction. It fails to give due attention to political power as a contributing factor. In that light, this paper offers an alternative perspective which explains the causes of environmental changes beyond the existing explanations by considering the historical interaction between state developmentalism and environmental changes. The paper focuses on two major state interventions during the British colonial rule in Tanganyika, namely tsetse fly control projects and settlement schemes. Drawing from oral and archival information and working within the framework of political economy theory, this paper shows that development interventions introduced by the British colonial state in Maswa led to irreversible environmental changes, such as shrinking of natural forests, disappearance of fauna and flora species, destruction of water sources, increase in land degradation and heightening of arid conditions.


Environmental change, political economy, colonial state, development intervention, Maswa.

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