Land is considered the most fundamental resource to the poor and is essential to
enabling them to lift themselves out of poverty. More than 60 percent of the active
population in Southern Africa is dependent on land for livelihood. The last three decades
have witnessed some land reforms in Southern Africa, some of which were aimed at land
redistribution and introducing land titling for customary tenure. While the issue of land tenure
reform has not been given sufficient attention, land distribution has tended to be the core
issue in many of the Southern African countriesвЂ™ land policy reforms. However today there is
a growing recognition of the centrality of land tenure in sustainable development process in
the region as witnessed by a number of regional and national initiatives and meetings.
Providing security of tenure is often seen as a precondition for intensifying agricultural
production and is now increasingly stressed as a prerequisite for better natural resource
management and sustainable development. Rural people generally need both secure individual
rights to farm plots and secure collective rights to common pool resources upon which whole
villages depend. Despite the fact that security of land tenure is required for agricultural
production and poverty eradication, cases of land tenure insecurity have been reported in the
sub-region. What are the major sources of insecurity of rights to land of farmers under the
current land tenure systems in the sub-region? What have the governments done to improve
land tenure security of farmers? What is the status of womenвЂ™s land rights under the current
land tenure systems? What are the barriers to women acquiring land rights under the current
land tenure systems? What has been done to improve the land rights of women?
This technical publication attempts to provide essential information on these central
questions. The technical publication describes the major sources of land tenure insecurity in
six selected countries: Lesotho, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa.
Findings of this study reveal that land tenure insecurity is still experienced in Southern Africa.
The publication presents a summary of the specific initiatives that the study countries are
adopting to improve land tenure security of farmers and womenвЂ™s land rights. It offers
recommendations on strategies that can be adopted by countries to improve land tenure
security of the farmers in general and of the minority groups and women in particular.
ECA-SA wishes to thank the UNDP country offices in Malawi, South Africa,
Lesotho, Botswana and Mozambique for facilitating the field missions for this study. Thanks
are also due to all the key representatives in relevant government ministries and civil society
groups for agreeing to participate in the study. The contribution of the ECA-Sustainable
Development Division on earlier drafts of the document is gratefully acknowledged.
A team of experts reviewed the draft document at an Ad Hoc Expert Group Meeting
on Land Tenure Systems and Sustainable Development in Southern Africa held from 1 to 3
October, 2003 in Lusaka. The comments and observations made by those experts whose
names follow were very helpful: Michael Banda, Lovermore Rugube, Frightone Sichone,
Lovemore Simwanda, Henry Machina, Phyllis A. Simasiku, Akinyi Nzioki, Lewis M. Bangwe,
Zakes Hlatswayo, Qhobela Cyprian Selebalo, Scott Drimie, Susan Mbaya, Gear Mumena
Kajoba, Dirk Effler, Mfaro Moyo, Musonda Kunda, Pamela Mhlanga, Naomi Ngwira,
Kennedy A. Liyungu, Abby Taka Mgugu, Sam Moyo, Rogier Van Den Brink, Patrice
Kandolo, Ballard Andrew Zulu, Tobias Mulimbika, Joseph Mbinji, Joan C. Kagwanja, Maurice Tankou, and Anthony Mwanaumo.
ECA-SA gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the former Director, Robert M.
Okello. The principal author of the publication was Gladys Mutangadura. The ECA-SA
professional team provided valuable input through reviewing and commenting on earlier
drafts of the publication. The team includes Ernest M. E. Dhliwayo, Zifa W. Kazeze, Irene B.
Lomayani, Wilfred Lombe, Guillermo Mangue, Elizabeth Simonda, and Saskia Evans, assisted
by ECA-SA support staff. Many thanks to the intern Kelyson MangвЂ™ola who helped conduct
the research in Zambia.
It is my expectation that this technical publication will prove valuable and timely to
decision-makers in government, intergovernmental organizations, bilateral and multilateral
development partners, non-governmental organizations, academia and the general public.
Officer in Charge, ECA-SA