JANUARY 2014.  Following passage of the 1995 Land Act, Zambia recognizes two types of land tenure: customary tenure and state land held under leases (leasehold tenure).  

While the former category has historically made up the majority of land in the country, the Land Act allows customary lands to be converted to privately-held long-term leases.   After a lease expires, the state often claims this land, slowly eroding the total amount of customary land in Zambia.  Furthermore, the rural poor are rarely able to acquire leases due to the high costs involved, leading to calls for reforms of the land tenure system.

Today, the Zambian government, with support from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the African Union’s Land Policy Initiative, and others is working towards development of a national land policy and reforms to address underlying challenges in the land sector, including rights to customary land. 

In this brief learn:

  • How the colonial and post-colonial land tenure regime has contributed to tenure insecurity for many Zambians;
  • How the 1995 Land Act diminishes the powers of customary authorities and has led to an erosion of customary rights;
  • Why the Act puts rural customary rights holders at a disadvantage when it comes to securing land rights;
  • How an innovative approach to securing community land rights, known as Community Development Trusts, has benefited local communities and wildlife.

At the World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty 2014, see a related poster by Jimmiel Mandima: Pos-2) Strengthening community land management using innovative easements for conservation, education, and enterprise development in Sekute Chiefdom in southern Zambia