Land grabbing is a common issue in many parts of the world, and Malawi is not exempt from the problem
Land grabbing is a common issue in many parts of the world, and Malawi is not exempt from the problem. Stripped of their land, communities lose their livelihoods and homes, becoming vulnerable and marginalised. That’s when organisations like Landnet Malawi, an ILC member, come into play, working towards protecting people’s land rights and ensuring that victims of land grabbing receive justice.
The story of Maria John from Kaipa Village is a good example of that. Maria’s land was taken by the Chief's grandson, leaving her with no source of livelihood and no place to call home. Thankfully, Landnet Malawi intervened in the situation, and after a month-long struggle, Maria was able to reclaim her land.
Maria John of Kaipa Village, Malawi
Landnet Malawi started by gathering information through conference calls with Maria and the Land Committee. They also documented evidence through video, audio clips and photographs. With the help of the Mangochi District Member of the National Land Coalition, Landnet Malawi had a dialogue with the Chief and the Land Committee, which led to the Chief accepting and returning the land to Maria.
While there were challenges during the process, with initial resistance from the Chief, Landnet Malawi was able to help Maria get her land back. They also made sure that she had bricks ready to construct her house on it. This success had a significant impact on Landnet Malawi, and it served as an eye-opener to the Chief, who had been doing the same thing to other people in the community. He is now aware of the legal consequences.
While organizations like Landnet Malawi play an essential role in protecting the rights of vulnerable people who fall victim to land grabbing, it’s also important to educate Chiefs in the area about land rights and the legal consequences of violating them. The role of the Land Committee also needs to be strengthened to protect the rights of landowners in the community.
Maria's recovery of her land through the aid of Landnet Malawi is a testament to the power of organizations that work towards protecting land rights. It shows that justice can be achieved, even in situations where powerful individuals try to take advantage of vulnerable people. While there is still much work to be done, stories like this instill optimism and hope that positive change is possible.