Local woman holding up her certificate

Transforming matrilineal land rights? Agricultural intensification and land regularization in Northern Mozambique

Research project
Active research
Project period
2022 - 2024
Project owner
Unit for Human Geography, Department of Economy and Society

Short description

The purpose of this study is to investigate how processes of individual/household land titling and agricultural intensification initiatives affect women’s and land-holding lineages’ land rights, and how they affect gendered land-related responsibilities under matrilineal tenure systems. While African policy documents highlight women’s land tenure insecurity as a key development problem, land reforms through regularisation are usually based on the implicit assumption is that land tenure is patrilineal. Furthermore, when customary land rights are formalised through ‘community delimitations’, in spite of non-discriminatory intentions, there is a tendency to formalisation bringing about a strengthening of male roles and authorities, in both patrilineal and matrilineal communities.

In a context of a community-based land tenure reform in Nampula Province in Northern Mozambique, we aim to carry out field-based studies in communities where traditional tenure arrangements have been matrilineal. We will focus on four main issues: i) titling processes and women’s roles, ii) land rights and gendered responsibilities, iii) access to and control of land, and iv) agricultural intensification and subsistence. The research approach is qualitative, based on a comparative case study of three delimited communities. So far, there are no systematic research findings reported in the scholarly literature on this particular topic.