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Land and decentralisation in Senegal

Land and decentralisation in Senegal

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Date of publication
January 2008
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ISBN / Resource ID

Land and decentralisation policies in Senegal have been closely linked since the country became independent in 1960. Although local governments manage public lands and participate in the management of special areas, the actual degree popular participation in land and decentralisation policies occurs strongly depends on the rights granted to local communities and governments and the available human and financial resources. This paper explores these issues and discusses their effect on decentralisation and land management in Senegal.

The authors explore local authorities' representativeness as well as the human and financial resources available to them. They highlight three points: decentralisation policies should be intensified to foster sustainable local government; infrastructure, public services and support for economic activities are needed and; the translation of legislative advances into action has been too slow.

The security of land tenure in rural areas remains insufficient despite the national land law of 1964. This situation - which undermines the necessary modernisation of rural Senegal - is due to several factors:

political authorities and administrations have been slow in translating legislation into action
farmers have never accepted the abolition of their customary rights
neither the State nor local governments have sufficient human or financial resources to apply the law
rural councils are unable to manage national land in a sustainable manner
there is a growing number of illegal land sales and rentals

Attempts to reform land rights have also failed due to the State's refusal to recognise the social nature of land policy and to include stakeholders in the decision making process. The authors recommend that any successful land policy should:

reverse the fragmentation of family farms
give local governments the human and financial resources they require to manage land and natural resources sustainably
address problems associated with urbanisation
open rural land to economic use by the growing urban population
balance the ensuing loss of land for the rural population by an inflow of financial capital to rural areas

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Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s)

J. Faye

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Geographical focus