Remarks by Economic Development Office Deputy Director Shawna Hirsch at USAID Integrated Land and Resources Governance Program Research Symposium Opening Ceremony

Speeches Shim

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

HRH Chief Kaputa, Chair of the House of Chiefs
Linda Siwale, Director of Planning, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources
Chuma Simukonda, Acting Director, Department of National Parks and Wildlife
Ignatius Makumba, Director, Forestry Department
Ministry of Local Government officials present
All protocols observed

On behalf of the U.S. Mission and USAID/Zambia, it is my pleasure to join you for the Integrated Land and Resources Governance Program Annual Research Symposium. Today marks the fifth time in the past six years that USAID has supported Zambian academics, civil society, government and traditional leaders to assemble at a national level to consider the state of land tenure and resource governance in Zambia. This year’s symposium is unique in that it is being hosted entirely online. This opens up participation to many additional stakeholders.

Land and resource rights are central to Zambia’s development trajectory and its movement forward on its journey to self-reliance. USAID has been collaborating with the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Department of National Parks and Wildlife, House of Chiefs, Forestry Department and Ministry of Local Government across four main areas:

  1. Women’s economic empowerment;

  2.  Documenting customary land rights with households and communities to advance economic growth;

  3. Community-based natural resource management across forestry and wildlife; and

  4.  Integrated development planning with local authorities and traditional leaders.

Over the past six years, USAID has supported nine traditional leaders in documenting the household rights of almost 100,000 people across over 30,000 parcels of land.

USAID has partnered with the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to finance stakeholder consultations across sectors and in provinces and districts regarding the National Land Policy.

The process of clarifying rights has the potential to exclude certain segments of society, including women, youth and other vulnerable populations. Not only has USAID worked with our partners to ensure inclusion in rights registration, we are also working on promoting gender norms that encourage male leaders to become champions for women’s land rights. Through our partners, USAID is also helping women gain skills for employment and self-advocacy, while ensuring that these initiatives do not place them at increased risk of gender-based violence.

At USAID, we believe in the importance of cross-stakeholder and multi-sector dialogue to advance development objectives and help Zambian communities manage their own development journey. Land and resources planning and discussions are an excellent forum for doing just that. Cross-sectoral discussions involving agriculture, forestry, land governance and rights, and wildlife management provide an opportune foundation for developing integrated programs and collaboration. 

For example, supporting community forests help stem the challenges of habitat loss for wildlife and improve rural women’s access to, and control over, economic resources. This has an overall positive effect on a range of development goals since rural women are at the strategic center of reducing hunger, malnutrition, and poverty and play a central role in household food security, dietary diversity, and children’s health.  

By working with traditional leadership and civil society, voices are increasingly heard at the national level that capture the realities of the limitations facing communities in exercising their rights and dealing with education, health, and economic challenges.

The role of academia is extremely important in shared learning, and for making sure that Zambians not only learn from their experiences and the practices of other countries, but also that Zambians are able to participate on the global stage. For that reason, the top paper produced during this conference will be awarded the chance to present at the next World Bank Land and Poverty Conference in Washington DC, expected in 2021. 

As Zambia finalizes the National Land Policy and implements its wildlife, forestry and natural resource management framework, dialogue and national learning should remain at the forefront. We are very honored to be partners in the dialogue and are grateful for the diverse stakeholders present today and over the course of the month. 

On behalf of USAID, I thank you for your participation and accomplishments and appreciate your commitment and willingness to share lessons learned in land and natural resources governance in Zambia.

Thank you for your time

Issuing Country