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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Dealing land in the midst of poverty: commercial access to communal land in Zambia
Authors:Metcalfe, SimonISNI
Kepe, ThembelaISNI
Periodical:African and Asian Studies
Geographic term:Zambia
Subjects:communal lands
land reform
land tenure
traditional rulers
private enterprises
External link:https://doi.org/10.1163/156921008X318763
Abstract:Customary tenure in Africa has tended to be marginalized in favour of statutory control and privatization, including public areas protected for wildlife and forest conservation. Zambia has retained a significant proportion of customary land controlled by traditional authorities (chiefs), although access to wildlife and other natural resources is controlled by the State. Recent private sector investment in the agricultural and tourism sectors has potential to support local livelihoods but, equally, land could become alienated to the private sector at low value. The outcome hinges on the responses of individual chiefs, and on how far communities can hold them accountable. This paper, which is based on participant observation (2005-2007), interviews of community members and government officials in rural Zambia, contextualizes the general problem of the privatization of the African and Zambian 'commons'. It then uses two contrasting case studies of chiefdoms that have negotiated commercial investment by the private sector on their communal land, Mukuni chiefdom and Sekute chiefdom. Additionally, the paper presents an experiment in establishing participatory common property regimes designed to manage private investment in communal lands and temper patriarchal rule with downward accountability. It argues that a reliable positive result depends on the extent to which local people can hold their chiefs accountable, as well as a new holistic policy and legislative environment, accompanied by sound extension services. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]