The Land Portal published a new country portfolio for Sudan as part of our Country Insights initiative. The initiative seeks to expand knowledge about how countries govern their land, the challenges they face, and the innovative solutions they find to manage land tenure issues. Each portfolio comes with a detailed description of the land governance context and a collection of related blogs, news, publications, statistical datasets and more.
Sudan is the third largest country in Africa with an area of 1,849,234 km2. Sudan attained its independence from Anglo-Egyptian rulers on January 1, 1956. It is boarded: South Sudan, Central African Republic, Chad, Libya, Egypt, Eritrea, and Ethiopia. It has 853 km of Coastline and maritime boundaries with three countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Eritrea.
After decades of civil war between the central Government and a South Sudanese militant forces, in 2011 the people of South Sudan voted for independence, establishing a new state “South Sudan”. Consequently, Sudan lost land resources, and three quarters of its oil wealth.
Land legislation and regulations
Most of the constitutions promulgated in Sudan since independence include land related provisions.The land tenure system in Sudan is characterized by sharp dualism. Parallel to the formal legal system, communal traditional land is regulated by customary laws and institutions.
The British colonization of Sudan passed a series of land acts. Some of these still have partial influence, such as the Land Resettlement and Registration Act of 1925 (LRRA) that provides rules to determine land rights and to ensure land registration. The Land Acquisition Ordinance of 1930 also has partial influence; it gives the government the power to expropriate land for development and provides detailed procedures for land acquisition, value assessment and compensation.
The British colonial government created a new set of community leaders. Two separate and unequal land systems were created, namely, the registered system and the customary system.
The programme of land surveying and registration undertaken in the period 1898-1914, known as land ‘settlement’, was used to “build alliances with elites” and to clarify titles for investors.
The 1998 Constitution of Sudan, stipulates that citizens should have free choice of movement and settlement. The 2005 Interim Constitution established an independent National Land Commission. Darfur peace Agreement 2006 also established the Darfur Land Commission (DLC).
The Constitutional Charter of 2019 recognizes issues of tribal lands (hawakir).
The 1970 Unregistered Lands Act was a de facto nationalization of the land by the state.
In this act, customary land rights had no formal legitimacy or juridical status. All land that was not registered at the time of the act (90% of the country’s land) became government owned according to the terms of the 1925 (LRRA) Act. The Unregistered Land Act was implemented more forcefully in the rain fed regions of the country where people have no access to the registration system and the semi-mechanized farming had the greatest potential.
Physical Planning and Land Disposal Act of 1994 - this act lays out the procedures and institutional responsibilities for physical planning. The 1994 Act assigned the States a legislative power and more control over the land. The Central Town Planning Committee was established in 1946, but the 1994 Act established the State Planning Committees in each state.
Investment Act of 1999 - this Act might have introduced contradictions in the legal and institutional framework regarding the devolution of powers, giving rise to conflicting sources of legitimacy regarding the legal entities that can have access to, and control over, land. Later the Investment Promotion Law of 2013 gave the authority of land allocation to the Investment Promotion Commission, while leaving land use planning to the state authorities.
The General Land Registrar
Although the executive land use management functions are assigned at the state level, the land registration itself is a federal-level function. Registry offices are established by virtue of a founding order issued by the Honourable Chief Justice of Sudan. The Registrar General established offices in all states and sometimes in localities according to the needs and the density of registered land.
The current land laws no longer keep pace with the dynamic economic, social and environmental changes. Urban cadastral information is largely non-existent or in disarray. Most land transactions are informal and not registered.