Land Grabbing from within: Learning from Grazing Disputes in Western Kavango, Namibia

"A long-standing grazing dispute in Western Kavango Region in northern Namibia provides critical lessons on the challenges that people living in communal areas face to secure their land rights. In this case, several large livestock owners illegally enclosed community rangelands in order to secure grazing for their own commercial cattle herds. This brief shows how affected communities used legislation to defend their land rights: they mobilised relevant government and traditional authorities to intervene. This intervention included the issuing of an eviction order as provided for by the Communal Land Reform Act (Act No. 5 2002), which resulted in the removal of most of the illegal cattle owners from the affected area. This policy brief assesses the extent to which the dispute has been resolved, following this eviction order. It is argued that, while the eviction order was a victory for local people, in order for it to have been effective, the Ministry of Land Reform and the Communal Land Board should have followed up to ensure that all the alleged illegal herders had left the area, but this did not happen, with the result that the order was never fully enforced and some of the communal grazing land remains illegally enclosed."