Support to Land Reform

Project description

Title: Support to Land Reform
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Namibia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Land Reform (MLR)
Overall term: 2017 to 2020

Namibia. A new farmer on a commercial farm standing proudly in front of his cattle. As a result of the land reform, new farmers can generate a secure income from their farms. © GIZ


At the time of Namibia’s independence in 1990, nearly all commercial farmland was in the ownership of the white minority, with only 2.7 per cent belonging to the disadvantaged black farmers. The ownership structures of the commercial farms are established in written deeds, in accordance with modern legislation, while the arrangements for common land with the frequently overlapping land use rights are generally subject to verbal agreements. At the same time, the country is currently experiencing rapid urbanisation with the growth of informal settlements where land rights are not protected. The Namibian Government faces the challenge of implementing a comprehensive land reform that distributes land fairly whilst also protecting land rights. It is also equally important to ensure that natural resources are utilised sustainably to prevent their overexploitation.


Namibia has a coherent land reform strategy that takes all the relevant interests into account, which is being implemented collectively by the relevant government authorities, agricultural associations and civil society organisations. Conditions have improved for establishing equitable and needs-based access to land.


The project team is assisting the Namibian Ministry of Land Reform in implementing the comprehensive land reform strategy to ensure fair and equitable access to land in Namibia. As well as the Ministry, the project also works with the Namibia University of Science and Technology, the Legal Assistance Centre and a number of non-governmental organisations.

In a dialogue with the Ministry and the provincial authorities, the project team is developing land reform strategies and integrated land use plans. Numerous other ministries are also involved in the creation of integrated regional land use plans to be used as the basis for planning rural investments. Among others, these include the Ministry of Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, the Ministry of Mines and Energy and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

The project supports new farmers on both commercial and communal land in the productive, profitable and sustainable management of that land.

For efficient land management processes such as surveying, mapping and issuing of title deeds, as well as the valuation and taxation of land, the responsible staff in the authorities and ministries require extensive skills and appropriate equipment. The project provides appropriate training and material goods to ensure that these staff members can perform their new tasks and monitor the progress.

The team also acvises the Namibian Ministry of Land Reform, local authorities and the informal settlers’ association on the development and implementation of guidelines for the issuing of land rights in urban and peri-urban areas and the integration of informal settlements into urban planning.

Results achieved so far

A team of Namibian and international land rights experts has developed a comprehensive strategy for land reform and given advice on the legislative process. Based on this, appropriate legal and political frameworks have been established for land registration in communal areas and for equitable access to commercial land. As a result, 160,000 plots of land have already been surveyed and 88,000 land use rights registered in communal areas. Communal land boards established by the government work with traditional hierarchies, such as clan chiefs, to arbitrate land disputes. Women and marginalised groups, such as people living with HIV/AIDS, have benefited in particular from improved legal rights and guarantees of access to land.

In commercial areas, around nine million hectares of land had been peacefully distributed to landless and previously disadvantaged persons by 2016. The Namibian Government is therefore more than half way to achieving its goal of redistributing a total of 15 million hectares of land by 2020. All in all, more than 25 per cent of commercial farmland has so far changed ownership. In addition, up to five million hectares of land in communal areas is to be farmed by newly created commercial farming enterprises. In a mentoring programme, experienced commercial farmers have passed on their knowledge to 3,000 new farmers on commercial land, as well as 1,600 communal farmers, who can now gradually improve their productivity.

Eight integrated regional land use plans have been developed for the Karas, Hardap, Kavango East and West, and Zambezi regions. The Ministry of Land Reform is currently finalising similar plans for the Otjozondjupa and Omaheke regions. These plans have triggered a wide-ranging dialogue between citizens and the government, inspiring greater cooperation which is helping to minimise future land use conflicts.

Namibia. A young woman standing in her vegetable field on a small-scale commercial farm. The mentoring programme also supports communal farmers, enabling them to make their farms profitable. © GIZ

The legal and planning basis for the issuing of land rights in urban and peri-urban areas is currently being established. The project is supporting municipalities in the integration of informal settlements into urban plans, and in planning basic infrastructure for them.