Analyzing the Connection between Customary Land Rights and Land Grabbing: A Case Study of Zambia | Land Portal

Resource information

Date of publication: 
January 2023
Resource Language: 
ISBN / Resource ID: 
LP-midp003114
Copyright details: 
© 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article

Since the global crises in the 2000s, many foreign and domestic actors have acquired large tracts of land for food and biofuel crop cultivation and other purposes in Africa, often leading to the displacement of the African people living on customary land. The weak customary land rights of ordinary African people have been viewed as one of the main factors making it possible for various land-grabbers to exploit customary land with different purposes. However, it would be insufficient to conclude that the weak customary land rights are the only factor leading to land grabbing in Africa as such land rights give the inheritors the rights to use the land permanently. Therefore, the main objective of this research is to identify a more specific factor leading to land grabbing in Africa, which this article refers to as a ‘land-grabbing-friendly legal environment’. To achieve the main goal, by considering the case of Zambia, this research aims to: (1) analyze the main areas and regions where land grabbing occurs in Zambia and the land-grabbers involved; and (2) analyze the main uses of customary land and changes in tenure systems applied to customary land from the colonial era up to the present day, through a legal history research approach. The main findings of this research are as follows: (1) land-grabbing incidences have often been linked to the government-led agricultural program, involving both internal and external land-grabbers, and (2) the creation of the dual-tenure system during the colonial era and its continuation to the present day have led to the poor financial status of ordinary Zambians living on customary land, contributing to their weak customary land rights. By examining the main results, this research concludes that it is crucial for the Zambian government to bring about reasonable fees for land-titling registration for the ordinary Zambians living on customary land, as well as to separate development aspects from land laws. These steps will strengthen the land rights of the ordinary Zambians and prevent land grabbing.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Bae, Yuh J.

Corporate Author(s): 
Publisher(s): 

MDPI AG, a publisher of open-access scientific journals, was spun off from the Molecular Diversity Preservation International organization. It was formally registered by Shu-Kun Lin and Dietrich Rordorf in May 2010 in Basel, Switzerland, and maintains editorial offices in China, Spain and Serbia. MDPI relies primarily on article processing charges to cover the costs of editorial quality control and production of articles. Over 280 universities and institutes have joined the MDPI Institutional Open Access Program; authors from these organizations pay reduced article processing charges.

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MDPI AG, a publisher of open-access scientific journals, was spun off from the Molecular Diversity Preservation International organization. It was formally registered by Shu-Kun Lin and Dietrich Rordorf in May 2010 in Basel, Switzerland, and maintains editorial offices in China, Spain and Serbia. MDPI relies primarily on article processing charges to cover the costs of editorial quality control and production of articles. Over 280 universities and institutes have joined the MDPI Institutional Open Access Program; authors from these organizations pay reduced article processing charges.

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