Summary: This project sought to strengthen the assessment and inventory capacities of Zimbabwe’s ministry in charge of lands, in order to support the effective implementation of the national land-reform programme initiated in 2000.
Problem: The fast-track land-reform programme of 2000 has transformed the land-ownership structure in Zimbabwe, by transferring agricultural land from 6,400 former large-scale commercial farmers to about 163,775 newly resettled farmers. This new structure requires that the land-administration system, as well as the related policy and regulatory frameworks, be strengthened in order to effectively respond to the emerging needs; otherwise, the expected gains of the land reform risk not being achieved. Indeed, the challenges already being felt include land insecurity, conflicts among farmers, illegal resettlements, environmental degradation and the decline of agricultural productivity and output. Consequently, the country has been experiencing problems such as food insecurity, inadequate supply of raw materials for the industry, job losses, shortage of foreign currency and overall economic decline. Yet, lack of resources and capacities has been hampering governmental efforts to address these challenges.
The main objective of this project was to support and strengthen Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement (MLAWCRR) and other implementing partners to carry out their activities in line with their mandates and in a more effective, efficient and sustainable way. The ultimate aim was to accelerate the rehabilitation of the land sector and to improve the regulatory and land-management frameworks as prerequisites for the recovery and development of agriculture and other land-based economic activities.
A project management unit was established and housed at the MLAWCRR, while a working group was established with the former commercial farmers to resolve the outstanding compensation issues. This has thawed the relationships between the Government and the former farmers. Other key components of the project included:
– The update of the farm inventories;
– The development of a consensus-based mechanism for the compensation of former commercial farmers;
– The establishment of an adequate survey-control network;
– The survey of medium-scale farm units (above 100 ha each) and the update of the land-information database;
– The establishment and strengthening of the coordination of the Land Information Management System (LIMS) within the MLAWCRR;
– The development of a dispute-resolution framework; and
– The evaluation of land-tenure systems and policy recommendations.
The project’s specific achievements include the following:
– 2,881 farm inventories were carried out, providing information for the purposes of determining the compensations to the former large-scale commercial farmers;
– 30 MLAWCRR staff were trained in database management, and a land database is being implemented (80% completed);
– Five continuously operating reference stations (GPS base stations) were built and are operational, thus cutting the costs and time involved in mapping and surveys;
– 24 staff of the Department of the Surveyor General (DSG) were trained in image-analysis software for using satellite data for mapping;
– 557 medium-scale farms were surveyed and a draft strategy for surveying the remaining medium-scale farm units was produced;
– Area networks (LANs/WANs) were established at the head offices of the MLAWCRR and DSG, as well as at DSG’s Southerton and Bulawayo offices; 114 officers were trained in LIMS and updated the existing database;
– The MLAWCRR drafted guidelines for a functional and legally supported dispute-resolution framework, based on international good practices;
– A study of land-tenure systems and policies was produced, to contribute to the development of the National Land Policy Framework;
– The Zimbabwe Land Commission (ZLC) was established as a specialized body for dealing with land-related issues, and its strategic plan was formulated to underlie its activities, including securing resources for land audits.
Study tours to Brazil and Malaysia in 2017 exposed ZLC’s commissioners to international experiences and best practices on land reform and tenure issues, including guidelines on how to conduct land audits, which have since then been developed and are being implemented in Zimbabwe. Study tours to African countries (Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania) in 2018 also provided ZLC’s commissioners with knowledge about different local land-governance provisions and regulations.
Provider countries: Brazil, Kenya, Malaysia, Rwanda, Tanzania
Beneficiary country: Zimbabwe
Supported by: UNDP and European Union
Implementing agencies: Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement (MLAWCRR)
Project period: January 2014 – February 2019