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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Land management institutions at the community level : the case of village land allocation committees in Lesotho Morapeli, Matšeliso


Replacement of traditional land administration institutions with modern institutions has been one of the strategies used by the Lesotho Government to solve land management problems. This thesis uses a case study approach to analyze the effectiveness of one modern institution, the Village Land Allocation Committees (VLAC), at the community level in Lesotho. Customarily, land in Lesotho was allocated by traditional chiefs who could for various purposes revoke it. The system was allegedly open to abuse and under the Land Act 1979, the authority to allocate land was shifted from traditional chiefs to the VLAC, which is partly elected and partly nominated by the government. The thinking behind this change was that VLAC would be more democratic and efficient, representing local as well as national interests. The study consists of three stages: a) review of background literature on Lesotho; b) a comparison of land tenure reforms in Tanzania, Kenya and Botswana; and c) field research carried out through questionnaires administered to VLAC members, community members and government officials responsible for land administration at the community level in Lesotho. Conclusions drawn from this study are that lack of clear policy guidelines, lack of connection between land allocation and the overall planning and lack of meaningful community participation in the land allocation process, are among the major problems in the operation of VLAC. The study's major recommendations are: a) integrating land allocation with the overall land use planning; b) recognizing the continuing influence of traditional institutions and incorporating them into VLAC activities; c) providing VLAC with clearer goals and necessary resources; and d) building a planning and evaluation component into VLAC procedures. The need for further research on the composition and election process of VLAC is identified.

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