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Community Declaration on Land Rights to The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources; Ministry of Community Development and the Department of Resettlement – Office of the Vice President; and His Royal Highness, Chief Ndake


This community declaration was conceived when we, the community members of Nyimba, Zambia, with support from Zambia Land Alliance (ZLA) and Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS), met in Nyimba on 18th October 2021. This declaration makes demands to the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the Ministry of Community Development, and the Department of Resettlement, and His Royal Highness, Chief Ndake to promote women’s access to use, control, own, inherit and transfer land and natural resources.


‘We, the community members, present these demands on land rights developed through a consultative process involving representatives of communities and supported by ZLA and PLAAS. All demands presented below were endorsed by all participants.’

We Demand the following:

Land Policy and Laws

  • Translate the land policy to the seven major local languages and distribute it to all districts in Zambia to ensure that rural women across the country know and understand its contents.
  • A ban on any discriminatory practices in land allocation and ensuring that 50% of all land allocations are made to women.
  • Clear recognition of women’s land rights and establishment of mechanisms for the enforcement of these rights.
  • Promote the participation of women in decision making, particularly ensure at least 50% direct participation of women in land policy committees, land administration committees and land conflict mediation committees in both state and customary structures. Ensure that 90% of rural women have access to productive assets, including land, by 2030
  • Enact laws that explicitly promote joint and equal ownership of land.
  • Implement the Gender guidelines on natural resources for traditional leaders.
  • Decentralise land administration systems for both state and customary land that are cost-effective, transparent, and responsive to the needs of citizens and promote participatory approaches in land administration.
  • Full and transparent disclosure of the extent of developmental projects, how much land has been acquired, and which households will be affected.
  • Root out corruption in the allocation of land in developmental projects.
  • Minimise, as much as possible, any destruction of existing roads and paths and ensure that the community continues to enjoy their right of way.
  • Establish appropriate dispute resolution mechanisms that allow for rederess where those affected are unhappy with the decision made.
  • Traditional leaders must be mandated to disclose all land allocations on common property resources such as grave sites, forests, grazing land, and rivers.
  • Investors should include local communities in decision making over development projects.

Customary Land Rights

  • Recognise and respect customary land rights (whether registered or not).
  • Identify and ban customary practices that hinder women and youth from having equal rights to access, own, use and transfer land.
  • Review and revise land laws and policies that promote patriarchy to ensure tenure security for women and promote gender equality.
  • Develop land administration systems that allow customary land to be held in family trusts, where beneficiaries are clearly identified and the list updated from time to time.
  • Develop localised and low-cost registration and documentation of customary land rights to ensure the active participation of the vulnerable in the process.

Displacement, Resettlement and Compensation

  • Payment of fair and equitable compensation when land is lost in public interest and ensuring that there are no arbitrary displacements of communities.
  • All alternatives to displacement should be explored before the decision to displace is made (for both holders and non-holders of Customary Land Holding Certificates).
  • Provide adequate alternative and productive farming land for displaced communities.
  • Recognise the social and cultural attachments to land by communities when expropriating land in public interest.
  • Ensure that the special needs of women who are displaced are considered in all resettlement processes.
  • Include women in decision making on developmental projects, including private game ranches, and mining explorations, in Nyimba district.
  • Seek consent from women, youths, and people with disabilities to ensure that they willingly agree to developmental projects in customary areas.
  • Civic awareness on existing national, regional and international frameworks and safeguards around Large Scale Land Based Investment (LSLBI).
  • Ratify, implement, and monitor regional and international guidelines, protocols on sustainable investment, LSLBI and Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Tenure (VGGTs).
  • Respect progressive cultural norms and social practices that protect women’s land rights.
  • Strengthen traditional leaders’ role in protecting women’s land rights, especially in family disputes over land, and support their championing of women’s land rights.
  • Ensure that women’s access to land is not compromised in the event of divorce or the death of a spouse.
  • Build partnerships with financial institutions to ensure that women access credit facilities to improve their economic and investment prospects.
  • Promote non-discriminatory practices in land allocation to single women and respect their independence in making decisions on land use.
  • Provide farming implements and inputs, and facilitate access to markets for agricultural produce for both those with CLHC and those without.
  • Increase financial and human resource skills support to the Chief in the maintenance of the land register to ensure accurate and timely records on customary land ownership.
  • The continuance of custodial rights of Chiefs over customary land.

Women, Youths and Persons with Disability

  • Ensure that 20% of land allocations go to youths in the community.
  • Strengthen laws, local institutions, and legal remedies for youth to ensure that their land rights are enforceable.
  • Develop a fit-for-purpose land administration system to enhance social service delivery for all, including women, youth, and people with disabilities.
  • Build land use capacities of youth in agriculture.
  • Promote youth advocacy on land rights.
  • Introduce grants and state-subsidised loans that can empower young people who are financially poor to participate in free land markets.
  • Strengthen youth’s participation in policymaking, land committees, and land management institutions at different levels of the state.

Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA)

  • The Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) should make available the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment timely and in the local language to give affected people the chance to engage stakeholders on the document.
  • ZEMA to be consistent in monitoring investments based on the ESIA to ensure investments adhere to its recommendations and safeguard host communities.
  • Communities should be allowed to object to projects that are not environmentally and socially sound unless the environmental safeguards are adequately addressed and outlined in the ESIA.


Media can contact:

Primary contacts:

Jesinta Kunda: +260976679881,

Elias Simbeye: +260978111241,

Secondary contacts:

Chilombo Musa: +260961513158,

Dyless Mbewe: +260977401086,

We would like to thank the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) for the financial support, but the views are entirely ours.