By Josephine Tembo,
Obtaining a title deed unlocks doors to many possibilities, strengthening the property rights by ensuring that land owners register and have titles on their land can therefore make important contributions to poverty reduction.
According to the World Bank overview , the percentage distribution of the population by level of poverty in 2015 showed that 40.8 percent of the population was extremely poor while 13.6 percent was moderately poor. The proportion of the non-poor was 45.6 percent. With the 2015
projected national population at 15.9 million (with 17.9 million population currently), this meant that 8.5 million people lived in poverty, with 3.5 million of those living in extreme poverty. It is clear that economic growth did not translate into significant poverty reduction, especially in rural areas.
During the 2021 Land Policy launch, the then Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Hon. Jean Kapata noted the challenges that citizens who do not have titles for their property face which include displacement and encroaching among others.
The Minister said that chiefs and other relevant authorities will be required to allocate land to women, youth and persons with disabilities in their own right in line with the National Gender Policy and the Gender Equity and Equality Act.
Researchers have argued that giving poor families title to their land would be an effective way of boosting their rate of capital accumulation, as it would allow them to access loans. These loans could in turn, be used for capital investments to boost labour productivity and incomes, thereby reducing poverty.
Patrick Musole, Executive Director of the Zambia Land Alliance explained how titled land can be used to obtain a loan. Credit transactions can be risky, as the lender provides cash in advance against a promise of repayment over time. For land to serve as collateral, the lender must be sure that the borrower is indeed the owner and thus a secure title deed is needed to mortgage land, especially when borrowing from formal lending institutions.
Land is a critical asset, especially for the rural poor, as it provides a means of livelihood through the production and sale of crops and other products. Both rural and urban property rights over housing provide shelter, dignity, and a means of accumulation. Those without property rights generally lack the incentive and authority to make investments in the land where they live or farm that might lead to higher returns.
In the course of development, the need to sustain larger populations and make use of
economic opportunities associated with trade will require investments in land that cultivators will be more likely to make if land rights are secure. Property rights affect economic growth in a number of ways.
Secure property rights will increase the incentives of households and individuals to invest, and often will also provide them with better credit access, something that will not only help them make such investments, but will also provide an insurance substitute in the event of shocks.