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United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
Economic Commission for Africa
Southern Africa Office

Land tenure systems and sustainable development in Southern Africa

Gladys Mutangadura

Report 1:
Report of the ad hoc expert group meeting on land tenure systems and sustainable development in Southern Africa - 175Kb ~ 1 min (43 pages)
- November 2003

Report 2:
Land tenure systems and sustainable development in Southern Africa - 249Kb ~ 1 min (56 pages)
- December 2003

These reports have been posted with the permission of the Southern African office (Lusaka) of the Economic Commission for Africa.
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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 countries’ 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 women’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 women’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 Mang’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.

Dickson Mzumara
Officer in Charge, ECA-SA
December 2003

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