Customary Land in Zambia: The New Scramble and the Evolving Socio-political Relations
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Over the last two decades, the demand for land in Africa has increased dramatically, due to various factors including population growth, growing interest in farm land from both foreign and local investors, the steady economic growth experienced over the last decade and half. These factors have created immense pressure on the available land resources, especially in areas surrounding major towns and cities, and areas close to developed social and economic infrastructure. In most African countries, the growing pressure on land is directed towards customary land which still constitute the largest portion of the land. In Zambia, as in many other countries, the growing demand for land has brought the policy and practice of converting customary land into leasehold tenure (privatisation) into the spotlight. While this policy is part of the Zambian government’s economic growth and rural development strategy (of ‘opening up’ the countryside to investors), there are huge challenges that this is creating. This paper examines the power relations around customary land in the context of the growing demand for land. The paper argues that the changing power and social relations raise serious questions about the future of customary land and the social fabric of rural communities.
KeywordsLand policy Tenure reforms Customary land Land acquisitions Zambia
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