Lessons from the Field: Customary Rules and Practices Strengthen Women’s Land Tenure in Rural Mozambique

By: Nelson Alfredo, Centro Terra Viva

Under Mozambique’s Constitution and Land Law (1997), communities may legally govern their lands and natural resources according to customary norms and practices, so long as local customs do not contradict national law. However, rising land scarcity and associated increases in land value are leading some families to “reinterpret” custom as sanctioning the dispossession of widows from their marital lands. This Lesson from the Field describes how Centro Terra Viva (CTV) and Namati support communities to strengthen women’s land rights within customary systems and harmonize local practices with national and human rights law. The publication also describes CTV’s efforts to involve Customary Tribunals and local dispute-resolution authorities in efforts to ensure the implementation and enforcement of community rules designed to protect women’s land rights.

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