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Research Report

Understanding changing land issues for the rural poor in Mozambique

Eléusio Filipe
Simon Norfolk
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2017
Pages: 114
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 15-19)

    Land constitutes one of the most valuable resources in the southern African region, particularly Mozambique, where nearly 70 per cent of rural people depend on land and other natural resources for their livelihoods. The ‘land question’ in Mozambique became more complex after the 1992 Rome Peace Agreement, which ended 16 years of war between the FRELIMO government and the rebel movement RENAMO and led to the first general multiparty elections in 1994. These two historical events paved the way for a new era of national and economic investments in the country. Land became an important economic asset sought by nationals...

  2. (pp. 20-37)

    Mozambique “has been doing land reform since independence” (Calengo et al., 2007). The evolution of the country’s land policies and legislation has been generally progressive — particularly in the last 15 years — offering increased tenure security for most rural and urban land users. The legal framework for land use has increased protection to those who occupy land legitimately under customary regimes and to those who can prove long-term land use in good faith. The means of proving such occupation have been widened to include oral evidence from neighbours and witnesses, and administrative procedures for awarding state leaseholds to outsiders...

  3. (pp. 38-47)

    In the last decade, Mozambique’s rural landscapes have changed and land has become increasingly scarce. The availability of land and natural resources has always been a driver for development and investment in Mozambique. Since the mid 2000s, however, efforts to explore investment in rural areas have been accelerating. These have been driven by developments at national, regional and international levels: a new government with a strong investment agenda; the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), or the African green revolution; and the rise of biofuels, the food crisis and search for primary materials by fast-growing emerging economies.

    Foreign investments in...

  4. (pp. 48-73)

    This chapter examines the first case study, the Belo Horizonte area located close to the two major cities of Maputo and Matola, to understand how major drivers of change — urbanisation and rapid population growth — are impacting in different ways on poor people in peri-urban and rural areas. We will argue that land markets and land fragmentation in the area are having an uneven impact on local communities based on gender, age, generation and their levels of reliance on agriculture for livelihoods.

    The field research in Boane was carried out from late October 2014 to January 2015. The research...

  5. (pp. 74-95)

    This chapter presents the second case study, the Chicumbane rural area in the Lower Limpopo Valley, about 200km from Maputo. It aims to understand how major drivers of change —commercial agriculture and private businesses in particular — are impacting in different ways on poor people’s land access in this area. Drawing on the evidence, we will argue that land concentration in the hands of the Chinese-owned large agribusiness Wanbao Africa Agricultural Development Ltd (WAAD), part of the Wanbao Group, is having an uneven impact on local communities, depending on gender, age and level of reliance on agriculture for livelihood.


  6. (pp. 96-103)

    Land tenure is rapidly gaining importance in Mozambique. High rates of urbanisation, the surge in some international commodity prices, European subsidies for alternative energy and the prospect of global carbon market incentives have created a demand for large land areas for residential developments, plantations, forestry and biofuels. Combined with a lack of transparency over land values, significant imbalances in information between market participants and minimal land taxation, this has promoted speculation rather than sustainable investment, and the development of large inequalities in wealth and power, both countrywide and within communities themselves. Failure to address these issues will hold back growth...