Changes in customary land governance and “plausible” development outcomes: A comparative study of Chamuka and Shimukunami chiefdoms, Zambia

  • Dinah Mwanza Copperbelt University
Keywords: Land governance, Tenure Security, Customary Certificates of Land Occupancy, Continuum of Rights, Conflicts,


Literature is now cognizant of the fact that customary land governance structures are changing in most of sub-Saharan Africa. The relevance of land governance is largely dependent on the local institution, even without direct State intervention. In other words, customary areas are no longer sites for unrestrained, selfish and uncivilized competitions resulting in high tenure insecurity. However, a number of issues still remain debatable over these changes: for instance, what is their exact form and what are the “plausible” development outcomes related to these changes? This paper assets that, answers to these questions are often location specific in literature, hence the rationale for this study within the Zambian context. This study compares two customary areas, with different customary rights and administration, i.e. Shimukunami were residents are issued with traditional certificates and Chamuka where they are not. Data was collected through household questionnaires, key informants and focus group discussions. The paper tested a number of parameters which included number of conflict (e.g. on ownership, boundaries, encroachments), agricultural production (labour, crops, etc.) and generally livelihood strategies. We conclude that change in customary land governance has been a reaction to pressures and influences such as rapid population, high demand for customary land and introduction of monetary transactions. Further, institutions are not static but have evolved to meet changing societal demands. Therefore, approaches recommended for effective traditional land governance must be mainstreamed in local structure so as to provide a sustainable solution to tenure security and rural development. However, the appropriate approaches should be chosen taking into account the need of the local communities, traditional institutions and dynamics of land governance of a particular area.