FANRPAN Policy brief No. 3: Review of land policy in Malawi

Previous land reform experiments in Malawi failed to attain the economic and social legitimacy necessary to unleash the land market responses expected to spur national development. On the assumption that customary land was inherently insecure, the government decided, after independence to pursue a policy that would privatise customary land through the introduction of some form of freehold tenure, as a means of promoting agricultural development. The Customary Land Development Act and the Local Land Boards Act were enacted and are still in force for that purpose. The Government of Malawi operated without a comprehensive land policy since independence. The Malawi National Land Policy epitomises the government desire to address the constraints to Malawi's social and economic development caused by the absence of a comprehensive land policy. In January 2002, the Government of Malawi published its National Land Policy following a countrywide consultation process. The government is preparing a Sector Wide Approach (SWAP) to the implementation of the policy to which the World Bank, EU, DFID and USAID are contributing. Component projects under design include land acquisition and resettlement on under-utilised land to relieve landlessness.