Namibia is the most arid country in sub-Saharan Africa, with approximately 63% of the total population in rural areas. Namibia is considered a middle income country, although it has the highest income disparity in the world and an unequal distribution of land and natural resources.
The 1991 Constitution states that all people have the right to own, acquire and dispose of property and the right of inheritance. Subsequently, more specific land related laws were passed, which contemplate freehold tiles, leaseholds, customary grants and certificate. The communal Land Reform Act 5 defines the power of traditional authorities over communal land and it sets the creation of Land Boards for the control of the allocation of land by traditional authorities. The Traditional Authorities Act 25 recognizes the traditional authorities as legal entities and establishes their powers and duties. Customary law and the rights of indigenous people are mostly formally recognized, and in many rural areas traditional leasers still decide the allocation and use of land.
In recent years, the number of land disputes in Namibia increased due to the loss of power of traditional authorities that made it easier for outsiders to have access to land without the permission of the people. The formal mechanism for dispute resolution is generally assigned to the formal court system. However, people in communal areas usually refer to the traditional authorities and also to NGOs as means of dispute resolution.