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Graduate Student Research (2020 Deadline)


Zambia - Project E3-006: Effects of Land rights formalization on land tenure security and land investments in informal and rural areas of Zambia: Evidence from Lusaka and Chipata, Zambia

Mentor: Bridget Bwalya Umar, University of Zambia
Mentee: Lawrence Siloka
Dates: August 2020 - July 2021

Project Overview: 

Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia, has 45 unplanned settlements in which 1,220,085 residents live (CSO, 2011). Although unplanned settlements grew in density and number after independence in 1964, such settlements were not a post- independence phenomenon (Hansen, 1982). Their origins can be traced to pre-independence urban settlement policies, which forced poor urban settlers to reside in marginal areas of the city that had not been planned as residential areas by city authorities (Nchito, 2007). Potential residents simply moved in and claimed parcels of land by putting up low cost housing and other small structures. The housing structures were relatively cheaper to rent and thus became a pull factor to many rural immigrants into the city looking for low cost housing. With time, the population of these unplanned settlements expanded and currently houses around 70% of the entire population of Lusaka city (World Bank, 2002). Having such a large proportion of the city’s inhabitants in unplanned areas has brought about a myriad of challenges. Most of the houses were illegally built without any building approval. Although more than 65 percent of survey respondents said they owned their plot or house, only about 12% had any official land documents; thus, the owners do not have security of tenure (World Bank, 2002). Since 2000, several countries in sub-Saharan Africa have implemented a wide range of land formalization initiatives, with mixed results. In Zambia, the state embarked on a national land titling programme, the main objective of which is to regularize ownership of untitled properties in towns and cities and promote security of tenure for property owners on state land (GRZ, 2018). In 2018, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources had a target of processing and issuing 300,000 certificates of title to land owners in pilot areas. Because Zambia has a dual land tenure system, interventions have similarly been made to formalize customary land rights of customary land owners. Customary land tenure systems are based on customary norms, practices, and regulations, which have hitherto been undocumented formally. Interventions to formalize customary land rights in Zambia started several years ago. The difference is that these interventions have been driven by NGOs and not the state. One such intervention is the Tenure and Global Climate Change (TGCC) Program. TGCC developed and piloted household land certification with 541 villages across five chiefdoms to in Chipata to evaluate the impact of documentation on sustainable land management.

The data analysis to be conducted as part of this research study will provide information on how the national titling program has impacted land tenure security and land investments. If results show positive impacts on land tenure, proponents of the national titling program could be encouraged to continue with the program and encourage pro-formalization international organizations to support similar interventions in other countries. Lessons from the study could be used to improve the design and implementation of land formalization projects for improved effectiveness. Improved understanding of how formalization impacts land investments and the role of other factors will inform debates on land formalization in Zambia, including the ongoing stakeholder consultative processes on the draft land policy. Formalization interventions entail heavy allocation of resources, so it is important to understand their impacts, whether they are effective or not. If they are not, this feedback will be important for decisions on if and how to continue with them so as to minimize misallocation of resources.

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