Mozambique is helping communities register their land rights to prevent them from being exploited by developers. The communities are also helped to negotiate with developers and potential investors about how their land is used. Teams of experts set up resource management committees in rural communities, comprised of local villagers. These work in conjunction with outside experts to define the borders of their community’s land, apply for government certificates, and agree on partnerships with business for its use. The program has helped 10% of Mozambique’s rural population register their land.
Results & Impact
By mid 2016, the program had registered the land of 655 communities, covering nearly 6.9 million hectares and 1.8 million people, 10% of the country’s rural population. The Mozambican government has committed to issuing land certificates for 4,000 rural communities
Department For International Development United Kingdom, KPMG, National Resources Institute at University of Greenwich
The Terras Comunitarias, or Community Land Initiative, brings together international donors that work with NGOs, communities and government to strengthen formal land claims in rural areas. Representatives stay with communities to set up resource management committees, comprised of local villagers, and provide training and technical support in land registration. They help the villagers navigate bureaucratic procedures and negotiate with potential developers. They have also helped reform government processes to make registration easier for communities and investors
Cost & Value
The yearly cost of the project was initially estimated to be $900,000
Running since 2006
In the initial stages of the project community engagement was a challenge, and plans to rely on NGO referrals to find communities in need resulted in few participants. Political crises in Mozambique also meant that government officials struggled to put to use the new systems which had been created for managing the land registry
Mozambique has settled disputes and empowered citizens by working with rural communities to register parcels of land and negotiate with potential investors.
The Community Land Initiative – iniciativa para terras communitarias or iTC – was established in 2006 in response to exploitation of community-owned land by investors and private companies. It trains and supports rural Mozambicans to obtain DUATs – rights of use and benefit from land, or direito de uso e aproveitamento da terra – establishing claims in law that could protect their land from appropriation or exploitation by outside investors.
By mid 2016, the program had registered the land of 655 communities, covering nearly 6.9 million hectares and 1.8 million people, 10% of the country’s rural population. The project is ongoing and the Mozambican government has committed to issuing land certificates for 4,000 rural communities.
While all land in Mozambique is owned by the state, a law passed in 1997 granted communities perpetual rights to their territory while giving investors the opportunity to buy 50-year leases for land, through different types of DUAT. But although the system worked on paper in practise it ran into problems — often because communities didn’t register their land with the government.
Without any formal claim they couldn’t assert their rights. That left them vulnerable to predatory commercial investment. According to one report, between 2004 and 2009 the government granted 7.5% of the country’s arable land to investors, driving some community members from their farms and threatening livelihoods.
It was this that iTC stepped in to remedy. A major issue was that the borders of land weren’t clearly defined, so the project has helped communities get delimitation certificates – paperwork proving where the boundaries of the land are – by providing land surveys, technical advice and guidance in navigating government bureaucracy. It helped communities establish bank accounts and set up training in navigating government procedures, setting out objectives for land use and negotiating with investors to get the best benefits from projects on community territory.
The iTC has supported some communities in creating sustainable projects, such as ecotourism camps or farms, through collaboration with the private sector.
Structures to ensure the training’s sustainability have also been established. The project set up natural resource committees to oversee the delimitation process, manage resources and negotiate with potential investors. Teams of nine — of which three must be women — are supported by technical specialists who work with communities for a week to compile the necessary evidence and paperwork to obtain a DUAT certificate.
In addition to working with rural Mozambicans the project also worked directly with government, creating a digital system of land registrations and training officials to properly process DUAT applications. Political crises meant pushing through these reforms took time and were challenged by political process, but cooperation and campaigning between NGOs and communities meant the iCT was maintained.
(Picture: Flickr / SuSanA Secretariat)