In terms of urban spatial planning, decentralisation and urban growth make it necessary to rethink the sources of legitimacy, agreements and conflicts relating to the actors’ strategies for land access in Ouagadougou. By localising the power and land management in local arenas (municipal territories and neighbourhoods), the decentralisation policy – that has promoted the participatory approach – and legal pluralism have exacerbated land-use competition. Institutional change and competition over land have reactivated the authority of the Moose traditional authorities in the urban development (‘lotissement’), as well as facilitating land value capture by them. In the urban land configuration, grassroots groups refer to competing normative repertories (legal/official versus traditional/ local) to negotiate access to land for housing. This proves that traditional chiefs and state institutions were in tandem in the political-administrative management of urban development in Ouagadougou. However, facing the limits of the institutional hybridity and their correlative unsatisfied demand, grassroots people have empowered locally accountable representatives to fight for their land rights. With the growing influence of civil society organisations in urban politics, the domination of the public and traditional authorities is in flux. Based on qualitative empirical research, this article shows that the dynamic interplay between bureaucratic institutions, traditional authorities and grassroots organisations is contributing to reshape governance systems, as well as the construction of statehood in Burkina Faso.
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African Studies is an international interdisciplinary journal which aims to publish high quality conceptual and empirical writing relevant to Africa. Significant disciplines include but are not limited to: anthropology, critical race, gender and sexuality studies, geography, history, literary, cultural and media studies, sociology, and politics.