Land rights for African development: from knowledge to action | Land Portal | Securing Land Rights Through Open Data

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Date of publication: 
January 2006
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This collection of briefing papers summarises select papers presented at the workshop: "Land Rights for African Development: From Knowledge to Action" held in November 2005. The workshop addressed key land tenure issues in Africa that influence food security, environmental sustainability, agricultural intensification, conflict, peace building and broader rural development.Issues covered by the 12 briefing papers contained in this collection include: the prevalence and importance of customary tenurethe prevalence and importance of common property arrangementsconstraints to women’s access under both customary and statutory tenurethe need to secure common property and other forms of tenurethe importance of broad based participation to secure broad consensus among multiple actors in order to enhance the efficiency, equity and sustainability objectives of land tenure reforms.The briefing papers also reflect on the innovations necessary for securing tenure for the poor under a variety of settings. These innovations include:adjusting received law to customary norms and rules of land holding and access, as opposed to outright replacing customary tenurealtering lending rules by banks and financial institutions to promote land-related investments (even on land regulated by customary and/or religious law)de-emphasising the notion of ownership and refocusing on use rights in order to secure women’s rights and accessrestructuring conventional land administration systems to support group-based rights structuresencouraging decentralised land management systems that reflect local cultural norms and practicesin situations of multiple, overlapping resource use, strengthening processes of negotiation and conflict resolution as opposed to a generic concern with substantive rights in order to secure the access of permanent and transitory resource users.A ten-step procedure is also suggested (Alden Wily), which would enable communities to restore their group rights and practices to create and control their own tenure norms. These innovations, while desirable, are also risky: corruption, elite capture, exclusion of "non-members" and lack of capacities have been hurdles faced by communities.Agreed outcomes from the workshop include the following:land tenure in Africa is complex: the existence of customary, religious and statutory arrangements (i.e. legal pluralism) is a critical, defining feature of African land tenure. Land tenure reform must accommodate this complexity rather than replace itthe pit-falls of formalisation should be avoided, and in particular tenure codification should be delinked from collateralisation: cheaper ways of registering rights than the cadastre are neededin order to effectively address land tenure security, power issues at local and national levels must be addressed: there is a need for a multi-level, multiple actor approach. Land tenure reform is an urgent governance issue that can best be addressed by all development partners in collaborationon evaluation: the implementation and impacts of land tenure reforms should be evaluated at multiple governance levels in order to identify constraints, craft solutions, and to ensure that reforms are securing the rights and livelihoods of women, the poor and marginalised groupson innovation: new innovations are needed over and above tinkering with existing possibilities. For instance, the development of centres for legal advice and assistance for both rural and urban dwellers may enable the poor to claim their rights and even challenge abuses of power.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 
E. Mwangi E. Patrick
Systemwide Program on Collective Action and Property Rights (CAPRi)

The Systemwide Program on Collective Action and Property Rights (CAPRi) is one of several inter-center initiatives of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)created to foster research and promote collaboration on institutional aspects of natural resource management between CGIAR research centers, national agricultural research institutions, and other sources.  Its Secretariat is hosted by the Environment and Production Technology Division of the International Foo

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eldis (ELDIS)

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