Privatisation of Customary Land and Implications for Women in Southern Africa

Contract partner: PLAAS - Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian StudiesCountry: Southern Africa, regional Funding amount: € 600.000,00Project start: 01.06.2020End: 31.05.2023

Short Description:

Overall goal

The overarching objective of the project is to contribute to securing women’s land rights and livelihoods by changes in land tenure policies and practices. Interventions will be carried out in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia where women’s land rights remain insecure and poverty rates are high. The envisaged outcome is that rural women, policy makers and civil society organizations across the four countries have the capacity, evidence and platforms needed to promote policy formulation and implementation based on local practices and livelihoods realities as opposed to normative perceptions about the tenure system.

Expected results

Output 1: Gender sensitive research design framework, policy and communication tools for use by civil society, researchers and beneficiaries.

Output 2: A rigorous evidence base covering the process, outcomes and impact of the silent reconfiguration of customary tenure on women’s land rights and livelihoods for use by civil society and policy makers.

Output 3: Policy positions and implementation plans that integrate local realities in promoting and securing women’s land rights and livelihoods in the context of rapid change for use by policy makers at national and regional level.

Target group / Beneficiaries

The project targets a diverse range of stakeholders at regional, national and local level:

The target group includes a) Policy makers at the South African Development Community, the African Union and the Africa Land Policy Centre; b) Policy makers from the executive and legislative branch of government and traditional leaders of the 4 target countries; c) civil society organisations especially rural women's organisations and d) land-rights holders and users with a specific focus on women including widows, married, single, divorced, separated and young women.

The total number of direct beneficiaries is expected to be 739:

Regional: 10 beneficiaries

South Africa: 208 beneficiaries

Zambia: 208 beneficiaries

Zimbabwe: 208 beneficiaries

Mozambique: 105 beneficiaries



+) Training on gender sensitive research design, methodology and research instruments to study women’s land rights effectively.

+) Training on high-level policy engagement strategy and communication tools to promote secure land tenure for women.

+) Production of a training manual on the state of land tenure systems and women’s land rights in Southern Africa.

+) Empirical field-based research in 4 target countries leading to eight case studies.

Policy and data analysis leading to 5 policy briefs, 4 working papers, 1 book with testimonials from women.

+) Video documentation and solid impact stories leading to one short documentary.



The Southern African region is experiencing rapid and ‘silent’ processes of privatization of customary land in the rural agrarian economies. This shift has created a new land tenure regime in Southern Africa which remains different from ‘Western-legal’ forms of private property. Within this agrarian transition, there is limited empirical evidence to understand the driving factors, outcomes and nature of the obtaining tenure as it relates to the protection of women’s interests in land, land uses and livelihoods.

project number2512-01/2020
source of fundingOEZA
sector Landwirtschaft
modalityProject-type interventions
marker Gender: 2, Democracy: 2, Poverty: 1
  • Policy marker: are used to identify, assess and facilitate the monitoring of activities in support of policy objectives concerning gender equality, aid to environment, participatory development/good governance, trade development and reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health. Activities targeting the objectives of the Rio Conventions include the identification of biodiversity, climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, and desertification.
    • 1= policy is a significant objective of the activity
    • 2= policy is the principal objective of the activity
  • Donor/ source of funding: The ADA is not only implementing projects and programmes of the Austrian Development Cooperation , but also projects funded from other sources and donors such as
    • AKF - Foreign Disaster Fund of the Austrian federal government
    • BMLFUW - Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water
    • EU - Funds of the European Commission
    • Others - various other donors are listed in ADA’s annual business report.
  • Type of Aid – Aid modalities: classifies transfers from the donor to the first recipient of funds such as budget support, core contributions and pooled programmes and funds to CSOs and multilateral organisations, project-type interventions, experts and other technical assistance, scholarships and student costs in donor countries, debt relief, administrative costs and other in-donor expenditures.
  • Purpose/ sector code: classifies the specific area of the recipient’s economic or social structure, funded by a bilateral contribution.
  • Tied/Untied: Untied aid is defined as loans and grants whose proceeds are fully and freely available to finance procurement from all OECD countries and substantially all developing countries. Transactions are considered tied unless the donor has, at the time of the aid offer, clearly specified a range of countries eligible for procurement which meets the tests for “untied” aid.