Human and economic rights activist Kelvin Chirwa has asked the government to urgently identify and address causes of land scarcity in Malawi.
Chirwa, in an interview on Thursday, feared problems of land scarcity could potentially derail the economic aspirations of the nation; hence, the need for the government to find a lasting solution.
His sentiments follow reports that a court in Thyolo fined a number of people for encroaching on land belonging to an estate.
Chirwa observed that land encroachment is becoming a daily phenomenon as the country has similar cases in Nkhatabay, Mulanje, Chikwawa, among others.
“It is important that the underlying factors contributing to such actions are addressed. Instead of solely focusing on punitive measures, such as prosecutions, we must delve deeper into the root causes of land scarcity. We need to start addressing underlying issues such as inequitable land distribution and lack of alternative livelihood opportunities,” he said.
Chirwa stressed that time had come for the government to start making bold decisions regarding idle land in estates in the concerned districts, observing that ‘Kudzigulira Malo’ and other similar programs that encouraged people to relocate to other districts have failed.
“This is not a government-only action. Government authorities, local communities, and stakeholders are crucial in coming up with sustainable solutions. Land reforms must promote equitable land distribution and sustainable land management practices. There is also a need to put in place measures aimed at diversifying livelihood options, promoting responsible land utilization, and enhancing community participation in decision-making processes. By addressing the underlying causes of land scarcity and promoting sustainable land management practices, we can pave the way for a more equitable and resilient future for all,” he suggested.
In a related development, the Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) Executive Director, Sylvester Namiwa, has proposed that a special court be created to handle land-related matters.