Journal Article

The European Journal of Development Research;

Small Towns and Land Reform in Zimbabwe

Published on 7 December 2020

Zimbabwe’s land reform from 2000 radically transformed the agrarian structure, and with this small towns in rural areas. This article explores three such towns—Mvurwi, Chatsworth and Maphisa—examining changes in population, housing, transport and business activity between 2000 and 2020. Case studies highlight the importance of networks and social relationships between rural and urban areas, linked to new patterns of migration and a massive growth in the informal economy.

Despite the lack of state investment in basic infrastructure, the economies of these small towns have grown significantly, with a major shift in agrarian relations generating new economic activity and employment. This suggests the potential of a territorial focus for local economic development following land reform, encompassing both urban and rural areas.

Cite this publication

Scoones, I. and Murimbarimba, F. (2020) 'Small Towns and Land Reform in Zimbabwe', The European Journal of Development Research, doi:10.1057/s41287-020-00343-3


Ian Scoones

Professorial Fellow

Felix Murimbarimba

Publication details

published by


About this publication


Related content