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Publication: Social meaning and material constraints of land scarcity in Northern Namibia

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Land access, land distribution and security of tenure are major topics in Namibia, as in many other African countries. In north-central Namibia land is often described as scarce, by both the socio-political authorities as well as by individual landholders and users. This working paper co-authored by Lena Bloemertz and Nikolaus Kuhn together with colleagues in Namibia, Germany and Switzerland scrutinizes the different perceptions of scarcity of land in the local context.


The paper scrutinizes perceptions of and discourses about scarcity of land in northern Namibia in order to show the multiple meanings that land has for the population. It is based on two years of fieldwork, and brings  together  interdisciplinary  perspectives  on  why  people  argue  that  land  is  scare.  Our  research contributes  to  a  better  understanding  of  the  meaning  of  land  in  a  rapidly  changing  setting,  in  which demands  for  land  are  changing  and  diversified.  Furthermore,  new  land  uses  have  come  into  play,  and subsistence agriculture is no longer the mainstay of livelihoods, but one of the many sources.  We argue for a more nuanced concept of scarcity of land, in order to acknowledge the different meanings of access to land to different people and to improve land policies.

Lena Bloemertz et al., “Social Meaning and Material Constraints of Land Scarcity in Northern Namibia,” Integrated Land Management Institute (ILMI) Working Paper (Namibia  University  of  Science  and  Technology, 2021).