Mozambique land policy development case study

This study examines the evolution of land policy in Mozambique


This case study has been produced in response to a request made to the Evidence on Demand Helpdesk. The objective of the request was to provide a detailed case study on the evolution of land policy in Mozambique and provide the reader with insights into what is viewed as one of Africa’s most progressive land laws, recognising multiple forms of tenure.

Mozambique has experienced accelerated rates of growth over the past decade, averaging 7.2% per year, with projected growth rates of over 8%. However, this high growth rate has failed to translate into significant reductions in poverty and inequality has increased in almost all parts of the country.

While growth has been driven by capital-intensive projects, mainly in the extractives sector, agriculture is seen as an important foundation for economic development and there has been a high level of interest in acquiring large tracts of land for investment over the past six years. Mozambique is one the most land-abundant countries in Africa, with around 80 million hectares. Currently, only five million hectares are cultivated, mainly by smallholders under rain-fed, traditional systems, and only 3-5% of landholdings are formally registered.

Mozambique’s 1997 Land Law recognises the rights attached to customary and long-term (10 years and over) occupation of land by communities and individuals without needing a formal title. However, concerns that tenure security is threatened by the trend in large-scale land acquisition have led to moves by the government and donors to increase the formal registration of landholdings and improve land information systems. This is backed by a long-term exercise funded by donors to strengthen community land rights by supporting land delimitation and the demarcation of specific areas utilised by producer associations, a step necessary for communities to be able to apply for formal community titles. Donors have also supported the promotion of innovative models of community-investor partnerships.

Donors are planning to continue to support improved land administration and management through land tenure regularisation and land-use planning, and by rolling out a land information management system nationwide. Other opportunities for donor support include: enhancing awareness of rights and responsibilities under the Land Law and Regulation, particularly for women; deepening ongoing efforts to develop effective mechanisms and fora to resolve land disputes; developing further opportunities for innovative community-investor partnerships; improving land policy/legal consultation mechanisms; strengthening current investment project review processes; and supporting monitoring of land allocation and project implementation. This would usefully be underpinned by the strengthened coordination of donor engagement on land.

This report has been produced by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) with the assistance of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) contracted through the Climate, Environment, Infrastructure and Livelihoods Professional Evidence and Applied Knowledge Services (CEIL PEAKS) programme, jointly managed by HTSPE Limited and IMC Worldwide Limited.


Locke, A. Mozambique land policy development case study. Evidence on Demand, UK (2014) 24 pp. [DOI:]

Mozambique land policy development case study

Published 1 January 2014