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Land is an issue of central economic and political importance in Zimbabwe. During the recent years of economic decline, the specific importance of urban land has received greater prominence. Many of the formal processes for land transfer have been weakened or even abandoned, local government has faced a rolling crisis of sustainability and the collapse of the national currency ascribed a new value to urban land as a commodity. Simultaneously there are many signs emerging of community-driven innovation and participation in urban management. The need to revive and renew human resources within local government has been widely supported, while UN-Habitat has recommended that the Town and Country Planning Acts should be reviewed, and various donors are considering future assistance to the reform of legal and policy frameworks for urban development. There is thus a strong probability that fundamental changes to the systems and structures of urban land governance in Zimbabwe will be implemented in the foreseeable future.
In late 2010, Urban LandMark commissioned researchers at the Centre for Applied Social Sciences Trust, University of Zimbabwe, to undertake a scoping study on the governance of urban land markets in Zimbabwe, using Harare as a case study. The study's specific objectives were to:
- Provide a background report on urban land market governance in Zimbabwe that could contribute to the region's body of knowledge on urban land markets.
- Investigate and identify opportunities for practical partnership or other engagement by organisations working in this field with Zimbabwean partners or international organisations based in Zimbabwe.
- Propose a potential programme of work which could contribute to the more effective functioning of Zimbabwe's urban land markets.