Traditional Landholding Certificates in Zambia: Preventing or Reinforcing Commodification and Inequality?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The formalisation of customary land rights in Africa, as an alternative to their privatisation, is gaining increasing attention from scholars and policy makers. In this article, we use findings from Petauke district in eastern Zambia to discuss the impact of such reforms, where so-called traditional landholding certificates were implemented by the Petauke District Land Alliance in 2010. Based on interviews with farmers, chiefs and the Alliance, we argue that the certificates have reinforced, rather than reversed, both commodification of land and increased inequality of access to land. The main reason is that the certificates provide chiefs and lineage seniors with an efficient tool to further impose institutionally induced scarcity, thereby failing to provide already vulnerable groups with more secure rights to land.


External organisations
  • Lund University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Economic History


  • customary land, inequality, land reform, land certificates, Zambia
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613-628
JournalJournal of Southern African Studies
Issue number4
Early online date2018 May 14
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jul 4
Publication categoryResearch