Housing and Urban Development Jean Kalilani has cautioned people against selling customary land, saying land remains the most precious asset of every household.
The minister was speaking during the launch and handover of land governance information, education and communication (IEC) materials at Ching’amba Village, Senior Chief Lukwa in Kasungu on Monday.
Said Kalilani: “In a community, you may not have many things, but if you own land you feel comfortable. So, don’t be carried away when people, especially business people, offer you money to sell your inheritance.”
The materials, which were donated by a consortium of Oxfam, LandNet and the Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy (Cepa) with support from the European Union (EU), are meant to facilitate understanding of the new land laws.
With 1.6 million euro funding from EU, the three NGOs are piloting the implementation of new land laws, particularly the Customary Land Act 2016 in Kasungu, Rumphi and Phalombe districts where 3 000 households are targeted.
Oxfam country director John Makina said the project has supported the deployment of land clerks who will be dealing directly with communities on matters of land in Kasungu and Phalombe.
He said what remained was to create awareness about the land laws, benefits to the people especially smallholder farmers and their rights regarding land ownership and administration.
On his part, Senior Chief Lukwa said since the enactment of the new land laws, there has been a significant change of mindset by people on issues of property grabbing which was victimising women and children after the death of a husband.
“We used to handle many cases related to property grabbing by deceased man’s relatives. Some cases were also happening in matrilineal setup but they have reduced now because people are getting aware of their rights towards land ownership,” he said.
EU deputy Ambassador Lluis Navarro applauded government, the communities and the NGOs involved in the pilot phase of the project for showing commitment and ensuring that the land laws get popular.
He concurred with the minister that people need to register their customary land to have full proof of ownership and avoid selling the land irresponsibly.
Navarro said land governance is critical to the development of the agriculture sector, especially when considering women and smallholder farmers’ economic empowerment.