The government of the republic of Zambia has once again commenced the process of finalising the development of a comprehensive National Land Policy. The land policy development process had stalled since 2006 when the first draft was produced.

A notable shortcoming of the 2006 draft as highlighted in the analysis of experts as well as civil society is the poor consultation that preceded its development. Many important stakeholders in as far as access to and control of land is concerned were not adequately consulted. The poor, marginalised and disadvantaged who are worst hit by decisions made on all matters of land administration lacked avenues to have their voices heard as well.

Zambia Land Alliance has led efforts of civil society in engaging with government on the land policy as well as in gathering evidence to support the cause for a pro-poor land policy that ensures land is administered in a just and fair manner. Zambia Land Alliance realised that there was a gap in the representation of persons with disabilities as a vulnerable and disadvantaged group in matters of land.

The Alliance approved an application for Disability Rights Watch to join the network as a member to promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities in advocacy work around the land rights of the poor.

Zambia Land Alliance has been undertaking extensive consultations following the release of new draft lands policy by the government down to district levels and in thematic clusters. The disability sector thematic cluster meeting was organised by Disability Rights Watch on the 18th of December, 2015 at the Lusaka Grand Hotel.

The meeting brought together over 30 participants from Disabled People’s Organisations DPOs, Disability Service Organisations DSOs, The Zambia Agency for Persons With Disabilities, The National Trust Fund for Persons with Disability, Zambia Land Alliance and the media.

Persons with disability were happy that they too were considered as an important constituency whose wishes and aspirations equally mattered in a national policy debate. They participated with great enthusiasm and endeavoured to isolate their challenges as well as provide policy solutions to their problems.

  • Objectives of the Activity
    • To raise awareness to Persons With Disabilities on the need for a comprehensive land policy and build their knowledge on the land administration processes and challenges for Zambia.
    • To present the key issues in the draft land policy and subject them to scrutiny for disability inclusion.
    • To present the findings of the access to land survey by persons with disabilities conducted by ZLA and DRW.
    • To clearly arrive at the key challenges facing all categories of persons with disabilities and provide policy options for consideration by the drafters of the National Land Policy.




The consultation meeting was opened at 09:15 hours with a welcome statement from the Coordinator of Disability Rights Watch Bruce Chooma. He begun by thanking all the participants for coming out to attend the meeting despite the short notice given for the meeting.


Bruce Chooma

He explained that access to land for persons with disability was a very important issue that sat at the centre of their personal dignity.  It was for this reason that efforts to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities would be futile without tackling the important issue of access of land and property ownership and management. He expressed gratitude to Zambia Land Alliance for the support it has continued to render to DRW since the organisation joined the network earlier in the year.


Mr Chooma indicated that there was need to continue building the capacity of persons with disabilities and their representative organisations to understand land administration matters and advocate for their own rights to access and control land. Given that Persons with Disabilities were at the tail end of the poverty strata and that going by the World Health Organisation WHO estimates that they constituted up to 15% of the population, they were too large a constituency of people to be ignored in national programmes and policy development processes.


He appealed to the meeting participants to deliberate freely and explore all challenges they encountered and develop clear and practical policy proposals to enable the national land policy to be fully inclusive.


Tapuwa Nzara delivers his opening remarks

Mr Tapuwa Nzara Programmes Manager of the Zambia Land Alliance delivered a statement on behalf of the Zambia Land Alliance in which he explained the purpose of the Zambia Land Alliance. He also gave an update of the progress made so far in the process of developing the national land policy. He also thanked the participants for coming to the meeting and assured them that their input into the land policy development process was very important.


He explained that ZLA has over the years conducted a lot of research and consultations on the issue of land administration in Zambia and provided this evidence to government in a bid to influence government to see the need to ensure the protection of the land rights of the poor. He said it was for this reason that ZLA had earlier in the year commissioned a study on land administration challenges facing persons with disabilities, a survey undertaken with the technical support of Disability Rights Watch.


He informed the meeting that government had published the draft national lands policy and was undertaking provincial consultations on the document. He said ZLA was undertaking district consultation and thematic cluster consultations one of which was consultation with persons with disabilities. He also appealed to participants to feely deliberate and come with concrete proposals of measures to be considered at policy level for persons with disability.


Keynote Statement

DRW President Wamundila Waliuya delivers a keynote statement

Disability Rights Watch President Wamundila Waliuya (visually impaired) delivered a  keynote statement on access to land issues for persons with disabilities. He said the guiding principle for the participation of persons with disabilities in policy development remained “nothing for us without us”, adding that persons with disabilities are a historically disadvantaged group. He said the rights of persons with disabilities to own access as well as sell land were not recognised and respected not only at national level but sadly even in families.

He reminded the meeting that Zambia was signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities UNCRPD domesticated in the Persons with Disabilities Act 2012. The two instruments provided for the respect of the inherent dignity of persons with disabilities including the protection of the right to legal capacity. He explained that persons with psycho-social and or mental disabilities were worse affected when it came to the violation of the rights to own and manage land and property followed by women with disabilities.


He reminded the meeting of the existence of cultural and traditional practices that exacerbate the notion that persons with disabilities are incapable of owning property worse still land as they are people who only require to be taken care and are not in any position to be economically productive.


He bemoaned the fact that Persons With Disabilities have been overlooked in discussions of access and inheritance to land. Government policies and legislation are not explicit on the matter.   He implored the meeting to be candid on this matter and make government realise the need to ensure these rights were protected.


Findings of land access survey for PWDs

Workshop facilitator Bruce Chooma, made a summary presentation of the findings of the survey undertaken by the Zambia Land Alliance on challenges of access to land for persons with disabilities.

The research was premised on the understanding that land rights increase a person’s power in social, economic, and political relationships and that land rights also improve one’s sense of self-esteem, confidence, security, and dignity.


The objective of this study was to investigate the factors and actors which provide for opportunities and are challenges to PwDs to access and secure land rights.


Bruce Chooma shares findings of the land access survey for persons with disability

The field data collection was done in three (3) districts. Kabwe, Chibombo and Kafue). For Kabwe and Chibombo, the rural data collection was done in Liteta Chiefdom and in particular Liteta Leprosarium.

Focus Group Discussions were also conducted in Mukobeko and in Bwacha townships of Kabwe.   In Kafue District, data collection was done in Chifwema, a rural area where some of the Persons With Disabilities PwDs were resettled by the government.

He said the survey done by ZLA and Disability Rights Watch in early 2015 revealed that the current land administration practices either in customary or state land were not appropriate for persons with disabilities.

The following were the key conclusions:

  1. Persons with disabilities are routinely denied equal rights to land and inheritance of land or the related property such as housing. This denial had a profound impact on their ability to provide for themselves and their families.
  2. The stigma, prejudice and social isolation faced by persons with disabilities and the widespread lack of education, social support networks, and the right to appeal injustices at the family, community or national level, further limits the ability of persons with disability to contest inequities encountered in access and inheritance to land.  This denial of equality in access and inheritance to land had profound implications for intergenerational poverty among persons with disabilities. The research established that this was even worse for women with disabilities and persons with mental and intellectual disabilities.
  3. Zambia’s current laws and policies neither adequately protect the land rights of people living on both customary and statutory land nor provide guidance on the administration and management of customary tenure. This has led to an increase in the non recognition of various kinds of rights that customary land holders have in general and Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) in particular.
  4. PwDs in Zambia are generally not regarded as landowners and any presumed rights are subsumed as those of their kin without disabilities. Yet they tend to be poorer partly because of inadequate access and tenure security to land.
  5. The report noted that The Zambian Constitution: The Zambian Constitution (1991, amended in 1996) indirectly mentions the state’s responsibility to persons with disabilities.”

Although the Constitution does not mention disability under its anti-discrimination clause, Article 11 may also include persons with disabilities: “every person in Zambia has been and shall continue to be entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual

The PWDs Act 2012 is the principle anti-discrimination law on disability. The Act, however, is silent on aspects of disability and access to land either in state or customary land.

  1. This study identifies that Government policies and legislation on land are weak on how they can support access and inheritance of land by persons with disabilities.

Key Recommendations

  1. More specifically the Lands Act should be revised to include a 15 percent of all land being distributed at a particular time to go to PwDs.
  2. ZLA working with DPOs needs to lobby government to promote integration of PwDs in existing communities when providing them with land rather than isolating them into groups.

After the morning health break the meeting went into groups to identify challenges and propose solutions for policy makers to consider.

Group work in session


Group One (1) Issues on state land


The group that deliberated on access to land under leasehold tenure made the following observations and policy suggestions:


  • Lack of Information.

Persons with Disability among other citizens have little or no access to information on how to access land and from where. The land administration process is marred with secrecy and a lot of irregularities and where a little information is made available it is usually not in accessible formats for persons with disabilities. PWDs do not know where to start from in looking for land for themselves and their families.

  • The land policy should make the land acquisition process simpler and more inclusive to persons with disabilities. This means that the lands commission and any other institutions that the policy will seek to establish to administer land should be compelled to publicise all their activities and services and me mandated to produce information education communication materials in formats that are accessible to PWDs.
  • The Zambia Agency for Persons With Disabilities should be assigned a role in the national lands policy to provide information to all institutions and individual persons with disabilities it registers on land. The agency should also involve the disability federations and DPOs in all communication and public education programmes.


  • Poverty and exclusion


Access to state land requires significant financial resources. Persons With Disabilities are generally living in abject poverty and lack resources to process title and develop land.


  • Deliberate measures should be put in place by the state to allocate a percentage of land to persons with disabilities who will be selected using a transparent process that involves an assessment of their vulnerability levels. The state should also set up housing empowerment schemes and land development grants for PWDs to enable them add value to the acquired land.


  • Negative attitudes towards Persons with Disabilities

Land administration agencies including the Ministry of Lands, The District, Municipal and City Councils and the Lands Commissioner have a negative attitude towards persons with disabilities. They believe that persons with disabilities are incapable of economic productivity. They are thus very reluctant to approve applications for parcels of land by persons with Disability.

  • All staff in land administration institutions need sensitization and education on the rights of persons with disability.
  • The Ministry of Lands and all its institutions need disability inclusion training programmes and need to be supported to put in place disability inclusion policies in all facets of their work.
  • Centralisation of land administration

Land administration systems in Zambia are highly centralized with title deeds only issued from Lusaka and Ndola. Such a system of things makes it costly and almost impossible for persons with disabilities to access land on an equal basis with others.

  • The new land policy should thus provide for decentralization of land administration systems and institutions up to district and ward levels.
  • Corruption and poor accountability systems

Persons with disabilities are heavily disadvantaged in the land acquisition process by rampant and endemic corruption in institutions of land administration particularly the councils as agents for the Ministry of Lands.

  • Measures at policy level to enhance transparency must be put in place. This includes having persons with disability included in committees that make decisions on land administration matter especially committees that process applications for land.
  • No pro-poor disability inclusion affirmative action

The current land acquisition procedures do not include measures to support vulnerable and disadvantaged groups to own state land.

The affirmative action needed is a waiver or reduction on applicable fees on a case by case basis for land processing and acquisition.


Policy proposals in plenary

  • The new land policy should designate 15% of all land allocations to persons with disability. This is a compromise from the 20% suggested by the group. The justification for such a position was that persons with disability consist at least 15% of the total population.
  • Where persons with disability require to access land in groups for purposes of enterprise or agriculture, when such requests come with evidence of business viability, such requests shall not be denied.
  • Stiff fines and penalties should be meted out on all officers found to be corrupt especially when it comes to land and property belonging to persons with disability.
  • Persons with disability through their member organizations should be represented on all committees that handle issues to do with land administration.
  • Access to legal protection and fast track conflict resolution mechanisms in land disputes involving persons with disability. Persons with disability who may have legal problems must access free legal services to ensure the protection of their rights.


Kelvin Chooma presents on challenges of access to land under lease hold tenure for PWDs



Group Two (2) Issues on customary land

The group recognized that customary land is very important to persons with disabilities because it was the easiest way for them to access land. Most persons with disabilities also settled in resettlement schemes on traditional land.

Some critical challenges on access to customary land identified included:

  1. Lack of security of tenure on customary land

Persons with Disabilities alongside other citizens utilizing customary land for subsistence and even investment have no security of tenure. There is no legally recognized and binding document that assures that land belongs to the persons using it and all properties built thereon are secure from arbitrary grabbing other schemes that may disadvantage persons with disabilities.

  • The policy must spell out measures fir the administration of land that will compel traditional leaders to have a mechanism to issue legally recognized land holding certificates. These documents will require the involvement of government agencies with capacity to support the process through the provisions of services such as survey services and boundary mapping.
  1. Lack of influence of PWDs within families in inheritance

Most persons with disability are not respected or held in high esteem in their families. When it comes to inheritance of family property and other property ownership rights persons with disabilities are hardly considered even when applicable laws demand so.

Because of the high poverty and exclusion PWDs tend to be left out of family decision making processes.

  • The policy must promote efforts to do away with all negative cultural and traditional beliefs. The DPOs need to work hard to sensitize communities and also engage in strategic litigation and individual litigation to compel the courts to practice judicial activism on behalf of persons with disabilities.
  1. Lack of information in accessible formats

Persons with disabilities generally lack access to information on which to base their decisions when it comes to access to land. The same challenges were also identified under state land.

  1. Lack of resources

Persons with disabilities are living in poverty and because land is increasingly becoming co mmercial their marginalization is increasing.


  1. Disrespect for land rights of PWDs by traditional leaders

Traditional customs and values have tended to cast a negative eye on persons with disabilities. The attitude of most traditional leaders towards persons with disabilities has mostly been negative. The headmen and even some chiefs do not lead by example in respecting the rights of persons with disabilities.

  1. Difficulties to lobby chiefs

The institutions of chiefs are not generally accessible and do not have a reputation for following and adhering to human rights and democracy. There is need to find ways of making cooperation with traditional leaders easier.

  1. Discrimination of PWDs

Persons with disabilities continue to face discrimination and stigma in all aspects of life. This discrimination manifests even in the way they are treated differently when they seek to access land. There is need to ensure that

  1. Negative traditional beliefs on disability

There is a deeply entrenched culture embedded in traditional beliefs that portrays persons with disabilities as less human and only fit for charity and welfare support. For a long time PWDs were considered as incapable of owing and managing property.

Strategic Measures

  • Awareness raising and education of chiefs, headmen and other traditional leaders on the rights of persons with disabilities including the right to own and manage property.
  • Packaging of information in accessible formats on land acquisition processes on customary land.
  • Chiefs to develop guidelines for their subjects to include measures to empower persons with disabilities with land.
  • Non Governmental Organisations and the church should be supported and encouraged to lobby chiefs on behalf of persons with disability.

Group Three (3) Institutional Coordination in Land Administration

The group noted that the key institutions involved in land administration and also in safeguarding the rights and interests of persons with disabilities were the Ministry of Lands, The local authorities, The Zambia Agency for Persons With Disability and the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services.

Key Challenges

  1. The Disability policy has no mention of access to land by persons with disability. There is need to advocate for the review of the policy to ensure that the land rights of persons with disabilities are protected at policy level.
  2. The Social protection policy does not address land rights of persons with disabilities. There is need to lobby and engage the line ministry to ensure disability issues also under the same umbrella ministry are not left out.
  3. In adequate or no representation of PWDs in communities and boards which deal with land issues in committee of government ministries
  4. Lack of capacity by focal point persons in line ministries dealing with disability. The policy should provide for periodic training of the focal point persons in disability inclusion and practice.
  5. Inadequate information by line ministries on access to land for persons with disabilities


  1. Poor coordination among DPO regarding land issues
  2. Inadequate knowledge on land issues by DPOs
  3. Inadequate advocacy strategies towards land ownership by DPOs

There is poor coordination between land administration institutions and the Zambia Agency for Persons With Disability ZAPD.


The role of ZAPD

The National Lands Policy must ensure to highlight the following responsibilities to the Zambia Agency for Persons With Disability ZAPD in relation to land administration:

  • Ensure the government includes measures for persons with disabilities in all policies and laws that have a bearing directly or indirectly on land administration.
  • Ensure robust and continuing education and awareness raising on the land rights of persons with disabilities.
  • Hire adequate staff in information and research to ensure there is capacity within the institution to undertake the public information assignments.
  • Provide coordination with other line ministries and government departments including the National Trust Fund for Persons With Disabilities on land administration matters relating to disability.
  • Lobby for increased funding to enable ZAPD and NTD undertake activities on access to land for persons with disability.
  • Ensure amendments to the Persons with Disabilities Act 2012 and the Lands Act 1995 to ensure that they address issues of access to land by persons with disabilities.







The meeting managed to achieve the following results:

  • The meeting resolved that the national land policy should be specific on access sot land by person with disabilities.
  • DPOS with support of ZLA and DRW will lobby for the amendment of the PWD Act of 2012 to include issues of persons with disability
  • DPOS with support of DRW to lobby for review of social protection policy to ensure disability inclusion.
  • Persons with disabilities to be represented on all boards and committees
  • Improve and enhance the advocacy capacity of DPOs on land issues.