A new project on ‘Privatisation of customary land and implications for women’s land tenure security and livelihoods in Southern Africa’

In cooperation with the Austrian Development Agency

African rural women’s land rights are being undermined by rapid and ‘silent’ processes of formalisation and privatisation of customary land. While land-based investments by multinational corporates have exacerbated tenure insecurity among the rural poor—and especially among women—they are not the only important process affecting land rights. This is partly because of adaptations from below to changing local and global context, but also accelerated from above by a resurgence of ‘high modernist’ pro-market land policies. This shift has created a new land tenure regime in Southern Africa but one that remains different from ‘Western legal’ forms of private property. Within this agrarian transition, there is limited empirical evidence to understand the driving factors, outcomes and nature of the obtaining tenure as it relates to the protection of women’s interests in land, land uses and livelihoods.

woman farming

In cooperation with the Austrian Development Agency, we at PLAAS are implementing an action research project entitled, Privatisation of Customary Land and Implications for Women’s Land Tenure Security and Livelihoods in Southern Africa. Launched in July 2020, this three-year action-research project is being implemented in partnership with civil society organisations in four study countries namely: Livaningo (Mozambique), Nkuzi Development Association (South Africa), Platform for Youth and Community Development (Zimbabwe), and Zambia Land Alliance (Zambia),  together with rural women’s movements themselves.

The project builds on the ‘Land and water rights in Southern Africa: Entrenching global and regional policy frameworks’ project (2016-2019). We found that a combination of less visible local processes is at play in reconfiguring land rights, land uses and livelihoods and one cannot understand the problem adequately without a more holistic approach. Between 1990 and 2017 there were 32 new land laws enacted across sub- Saharan Africa, much of it with a focus on reforming rights on customary lands. These have ranged from 1995 Land Act in Zambia to Mozambique’s 1997 Land Law. Most of the reforms allow for surveying of boundaries, registration and documentation, leasing, transfers and selling of customary land.

Against this background, our central question is: How is the formalisation of customary land rights (partly as a response to land grabbing) affecting tenure security, land uses and livelihoods for rural women and with what implications for policy?

Southern Africa provides a dynamic and valuable opportunity for investigating the nature of new land regimes and the differentiated impacts on women because of the dominant dual land tenure systems, which continue to shape agrarian relations. The main categories in Southern Africa remain statutory land tenure, which is administered by officials of the state using statutory law and customary land tenure regimes administered mainly by traditional leaders using cultural practices. The project will examine the main drivers of privatisation of customary land tenure, the extent of privatisation, the features and characteristics of new tenure regimes. The envisaged outcome is that rural women, policy makers and civil society organizations across the four study countries are supported with the capacity, evidence and platforms needed to promote policy formulation and implementation based on local practices and livelihoods realities as opposed to normative perceptions of what tenure system is in place or ought to be place.

For high impact, the project intends to target a diverse range of stakeholders. These include influential policy makers in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU) and the African Land Policy Centre (ALPC). Across the four countries, we will target policy makers in national governments, traditional leaders as duty bearers and civil society organisations especially rural women’s organisations and land-rights holders and users. The beneficiaries will primarily be women of different socio-economic status, marital status and age who occupy and eke their livelihoods on customary land.

Researchers

This project is led by Dr Phillan Zamchiya and Refiloe Joala.

phillan zamchiya

Phillan Zamchiya

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refiloe joala plaas researcher

Refiloe Joala

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Project region

This research project is being implemented in Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.

Funders

This project is generously supported by the Austrian Development Agency.

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Events

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PLAAS hosts workshop on women’s land tenure security in Southern Africa

| Events – Women's Land Tenure Security, News & Events | No Comments
The Institute for Poverty, Land, and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) is hosting an online workshop for its latest project titled “Privatisation of customary land and implications for women’s land tenure security and livelihoods in Southern Africa” from 7 to 9 July 2020. This new project, spearheaded by PLAAS and funded by the Austrian Development Cooperation, will be guided by voices from…
woman farming

PLAAS hosts policy engagement workshop to promote secure land tenure for women

| Events – Women's Land Tenure Security, Featured, News & Events, News & Events Featured, Uncategorized | No Comments
The Institute for Poverty, Land, and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) is hosting a policy engagement workshop for its latest project titled “Privatisation of customary land and implications for women’s land tenure security and livelihoods in Southern Africa” from 2 to 3 December 2020. The training workshop will focus on high-level policy engagement and communications to promote secure land tenure for women.…

Articles

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Raising a red flag on the privatisation of communal land

| News & Events, Uncategorized, Women’s Land Tenure Security | No Comments
During an online workshop hosted by the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS), participants discussed rapid and 'silent' privatisation of customary land under the theme women's land tenure security and livelihoods in Southern Africa. Civil society participants from Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe were part of a multi-country study to explore emerging trends around land grabbing by…

Rural women demand a seat at the table in Mozambique’s National Land Policy Review

| Blog, Featured, Featured Blog, Uncategorized, Women’s Land Tenure Security | No Comments
By Clemente Ntauazi, Joana Noyes, Refiloe Joala A new land policy in the works On 16 July 2020, the President of the Republic of Mozambique, Filipe Jacinto Nyusi launched the public hearing phase of the National Land Policy Review, which will culminate in the amendment of the 1997 Land Law (Law no.19/97), and other laws and regulations that govern land…

Mulheres rurais exigem maior participação na Revisão da Política Nacional de Terras

| Blog, Featured Blog, Uncategorized, Women’s Land Tenure Security | No Comments
Mulheres rurais exigem maior participação na Revisão da Política Nacional de Terras Uma nova política de terras em elaboração By Clemente Ntauazi, Joana Noyes, Refiloe Joala A 16 de Julho de 2020, o Presidente da República de Moçambique, Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, lançou a fase de auscultação pública para a Revisão da Política Nacional de Terras, que culminará com a alteração…
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Land tenure insecurity in Zimbabwe exposes rural communities to intimidation and arbitrary evictions

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By Owen Dhliwayo and Refiloe Joala Munyokowere villagers versus the State In a recent court ruling, presided over by Justice Mwayera at the Mutare High Court on 24 July 2020, an interdict was granted to prevent the eviction of 750 households from their homes and agricultural land in Munyokowere village, Chipinge District in Manicaland Province, southeastern Zimbabwe. The interdict also…

Zambia: Finalise and adopt the draft land policy now

| Featured Blog, Women’s Land Tenure Security | No Comments
The Zambia Land Alliance is calling on the Zambian government to ensure that the land policy formulation process is completed, and for the policy to be implemented for improved land administration in the country. According to Zambia Land Alliance (ZLA)’s Executive Director Patrick Musole, the draft land policy formulation process has taken too long and a lot of resources have…