Social impacts of land commercialization in Zambia: A case study of Macha mission land in Choma district

In 2005, in Southern Province, Zambia, the Macha Mission Church decided to start making economic use of its land – on which 222 families were living – in order to bring development to the area. The Church leased 200 hectares of its land to a privately owned organisation for a period of 35 years to introduce economically viable commercial activities, such as jatropha cultivation and the construction of amenities including a restaurant and a guesthouse. The 222 families, considered to be “illegal squatters”, were ordered to leave and, after some resistance, did so. This paper describes a situation in which apparently tangible positive impacts deriving from new commercial activities and services have been outweighed by the loss of houses, of grazing and cultivated land, and of well-established, locally developed commercial activities, leading to food insecurity and hunger.

John T. Milimo, Joy H. Kalyalya, Henry Machina, Twamane Hamweene