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Malawi’s rural land development project gets additional funding
afrol News, 20 November - The World Bank has granted Malawi US$10 million for the Community-Based Rural Land Development Project (CBRLDP). The additional grant will also extend the project for another two years, the bank said.
The CBRLDP, popularly known as Kudzigulira Malo (vernacular for self-acquisition of land) started in 2004 with a $27 million grant and was due to close on 31 December, 2009, but the World Bank Board of Directors today approved an extension to September 2011.
Since 2004 the government of Malawi has been piloting the project to introduce policies and strategies that will improve efficiency of land use by bringing idle land into production through a “transparent, voluntary, legal and resource-supported approach” to land redistribution through efforts that are market-assisted, community-driven, and focused on rural areas, where poverty is most pervasive.
The World Bank has said extension and additional financing have been granted to enable the relocation of about 1000 households who were part of the 15,000 beneficiary households targeted by the project. So far the project has relocated 14,000 households from the densely populated Thyolo and Mulanje districts to Machinga and Mangochi districts.
The Bank said the additional financing will also cover complementary services such as extension and other capacity building services to enable all project beneficiaries to use the land acquired productively. A portion of the additional financing will cover activities in the recently extended project area in the districts of Balaka and Ntcheu, the Bank said, adding that the project was extended to these districts following the shortage of land in the original receiving districts of Mangochi and Machinga.
Apart from directly servicing the project beneficiaries, the additional financing and extension will enable the government to improve land administration issues. “The additional financing will strengthen land registries at district level and surveying and registration services,” says Hardwick Tchale, the Bank’s Task Team Leader for the project.
He adds, “Modernisation of land registries and land administration would improve services and governance and ease of access to land by investors, while reducing the amount of time it takes to register a land transfer.” This is a valuable component for Malawi at a time when Doing Business indicators show that registration of property, including land, is one of the problems slowing business in Malawi.
Part of the additional financing will be utilised to support activities aimed at resolving policy issues that hinder the development of land markets. Important among these are collection of land rent, introduction of a land tax on freehold land, and enactment of the new Land Law. The additional financing will also assist in computerization of land records, which will facilitate the establishment of an efficient land information system which is required to support the development of land markets, once the land law is passed.
The government also intends to scale up the program nationwide, and it views the World Bank’s continuing support as critical over the next two years while plans for the scale-up are finalized. “The additional financing will assist in this endeavor by providing an objective evaluation of the pilot and drawing lessons to inform the design of a scaled-up program, including options for resettlement and technical, environmental and social dimensions of the program,” said Fletcher Zenengeya, Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Lands.
The Bank’s Board has also explained that additional financing was approved in the backdrop of a number of key achievements, stating that apart from each of the resettled households being allocated 2.2 hectares of land compared to original holdings of 0.45ha, yields of maize, the main staple food, improved from an estimate of about 962kg/ha at baseline to 2,269 kg/ha, through a combination of improved access to land and input support provided through the project’s farm development grant. Tobacco yield has also improved from about 519 kg/ha at baseline to 1,390 kg/ha, the statement by the Bank added.
“As a result of larger holdings and improved productivity, food insecurity among project beneficiaries has been reduced and annual household incomes have improved from an average of US$84 to US$235 per household,” said Chrissie Kamwendo, the Bank’s Acting Country Manager for Malawi. “This can surely be a model for other countries in Southern Africa.”
Of the beneficiary groups relocated so far, 89 percent now have land titles.
By staff writer
© afrol News
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