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Better legal position for women and youth

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Published on: 4 January 2021 | Changed on: 05 January 2021

In Zimbabwe, there are 2 land management systems; one system based on national law and one system based on customary law. The interpretation of the different land management systems creates conflicts and confusion. Customary law is often practiced in rural areas. It can be discriminating for women and youths, if it comes to family law and inheritance law. Vulnerable groups such as women and youths find it difficult to exercise their rights in statutory law. Often, they are not familiar with their rights. The project aims to clarify the differences between the 2 systems. The project also aims to align both for the benefit of the entire population, including vulnerable groups.

On 24 November 2020, the FAO and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency signed an agreement for the first LAND-at-scale project in Zimbabwe. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Barefoot Education for Afrika Trust (BEAT) will carry out 2 pilot projects. These will help find out what the biggest problems are in the systems and how they can better be used to complement each other. The LAND-at-scale programme supports this project.

The government of Zimbabwe is currently and for the first time in history, developing a National Land Policy. This project will help create clarity on the duality between the 2 systems and feed the lessons learned into the currently ongoing National Land Policy development process. This project contributes directly to the creation of a fair and sustainable National Land Policy. In the long run, this input aims to strengthen the legal position of rural communities, in particular:

  • youths;
  • those without land; and
  • women in rural communities.

LAND-at-scale supports the ‘Crafting, validating and testing out a fit-for-purpose land administration and governance system for Zimbabwe with special emphasis on communal and old resettlement areas’ project with 1.8 million euros of funding.

A perfect fit

“The embassy warmly supports this project. We believe that land policy and land reforms are key for the social and economic transformation of Zimbabwe into an upper-middle-income status by 2030. The development of this LAND-at-scale project fits perfectly in supporting the sustainable improvement of the land tenure situation in Zimbabwe,” says Barbara van Helemond, the Dutch Ambassador in Harare.

The Netherlands Enterprise Agency is excited about the first LAND-at-scale project. “We are proud that the first LAND-at-scale project is starting. The programme helps local communities and the government to improve land governance. It not only does this in Zimbabwe, but also in many other countries. The collaboration in Zimbabwe with FAO is very importance to us. It gives leverage to the LAND-at-scale programme,” says Tjerk Opmeer, director of International Programmes at the Netherlands Enterprise Agency.


LAND-at-scale is a government programme that helps to improve land governance. The programme supports better food and nutrition security, economic development and peace and stability in developing countries. It also contributes to sustainable incomes and social justice. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs funds LAND-at-scale.