To What Extent Does Tenure Security Shape Agroforestry Investment and Impacts on Agriculture and Livelihoods in Strong Customary Land Systems? Evidence from Early Agroforestry Adopters in Zambia’s Eastern Province


Paper prepared for presentation at the “2016 WORLD BANK CONFERENCE ON LAND AND POVERTY,” The World Bank—Washington DC, March 14-18, 2016.

Authors: Lauren Persha (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill / The Cloudburst Group) & Heather Huntington (The Cloudburst Group)

Stronger land tenure security among rural smallholders in developing countries is widely hypothesized to facilitate agroforestry uptake, followed by anticipated agricultural and livelihoods benefits in turn. However, evidence is sparse, while the endogenous nature of tenure security and land investments presents substantial complications for empirical investigations. Further complications arise in land systems where informal customary user rights are discordant with formal land policies and administration. We draw on baseline data from an ongoing impact evaluation of a USAID land sector program in Zambia to examine: (1) characteristics of early agroforestry adopters operating in Zambia’s strongly functional customary land system context, and how they differ from the general smallholder population; (2) current agroforestry impacts on agricultural productivity and household livelihoods across early adopters at baseline; and (3) the effect of tenure security on agroforestry investment outcomes. Qualitative and quantitative results suggest short-term term agroforestry impacts that may be discernable in this context, and contribute towards (1) understanding the role that enhanced tenure security may play in incentivizing agroforestry investments; and (2) stronger design of policy and programming to facilitate climate-smart land management and broader household benefits.

Key Words: Agroforestry, Eastern Province, Land Rights, Tenure Security