Land in Zambia has been a subject of wide spread interest due to competing needs particularly for mining. A land locked country, Zambia has large copper deposits in the Copperbelt Province and this is a major economic activity in the country. Zambia has dual land tenure system which is recognized and has legal provisions in the 1995 Land Act, namely Customary and Leasehold tenure systems. Customary tenure covers about 94% of land in Zambia, while 6% of the Land is State-land under leasehold tenure. These estimates are based on 1928 and 1947 assessments.

Customary Land is administered by the Chiefs using the Customary Laws applicable to different jurisdictions, and subject to Zambian Laws and natural justice.  The Town and Regional Planning Act enacted in August 2015 is applicable in Customary Land.  Rural areas have vast natural resources which results in competing interests between incoming investors and the rural communities over land.  The Government recognizes the need for a robust and responsive legal regime to enhance land rights and stimulate investment.

The Government’s commitment to land reform is driven by underlying objectives for promoting security of tenure for customary land in rural areas; preventing displacement of local communities by the urban elite or foreign investors in rural areas; promoting good governance, decentralization and transparency in land administration; eradicating inequalities amongst interested groups in gaining access to land in order to cater for the less privileged in districts; establishing a land audit commission to undertake a land audit countrywide in order to plan for sustainable use of land resources; and regularizing ownership of untitled properties in towns and cities.  The Government is following inclusive approaches in the land reform processes entailing the development of the National Land Policy and related legal framework.  Development Partners involved in the land sector are also coming together to support the land sector initiatives under Land Sector Working Group.

The Global Land Tool Network engagement in Zambia is to support the inclusion of community-collected data on land in the formalization and land governance processes. This has been done through building relationships and institutional linkages between women’s groups, traditional leaders and Government authorities for a more informed, transparent and participatory land governance processes. Key strategic entry points are:

Supporting the Government in the development of the National Land Policy within the technical leadership of the Land Policy Initiative (a tripartite agreement between the African Union, African Development Bank and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa);

  1. Support Partners and relevant communities in the use of Social Tenure Domain Model to implement customary land certification interventions in Mungule and Chamoka Chiefdoms;
  2. Support Lusaka City Council and community members in Kanyama informal settlement to use STDM for mapping and enumerations towards issuance of occupancy licenses in Kanyama settlement in Lusaka;
  3. Supporting capacity development initiatives of land actors to implement other relevant land tools in order to achieve priorities in the land sector and make it sustainable.

Key documents