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Folder: Pedagogical Briefs on Land Issues in West Africa.

A joint project funded by the AFD and carried out by the Rural Hub, AGTER, the Landnet West Africa, GRAF and ROPPA.

puce WEST AFRICA. Production of educational materials on the land tenure.

Access to summary and relevant information on land issues is very difficult. There are many documents in different languages, but their exploration is mostly beyond the reach of key stakeholders.
The heads of peasant and women organizations, NGO leaders, technicians, policy makers and donors working on rural development in Africa need food for thought to guide their actions. Serious texts, but short, attractive and easy to understand by the users are necessary.
The initiative to produce (...)

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puce Myths, deadlocks of land registration and the need for alternative approaches. (Hubert Ouedraogo)

Land tenure securing systems in West Africa are based on the colonial land registration heritage whose failures have often been targeted for criticism. This brief shows that, to be successful, land policies in West Africa must question and even challenge the colonial foundations on which current land legislations rest, including the land registration system.
Full text of this paper available on AGTER’s knowledge base on Natural Resources Governance around the World. You can also download (...)

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puce Are local conventions effective tools for the joint management of natural resources? (Laurent Granier)

During the last two decades, “local conventions” have increased in the field, and are now considered as promising alternatives solutions for a participatory management of natural resources and land.
But, what does the concept “local conventions” mean? What is the contribution of these conventions to the improvement of natural resource and land management? Are they recognized by the law? What are their limitations?
Full text of this paper available on AGTER’s knowledge base on Natural (...)

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puce Creating and securing ownership in Europe (Joseph Comby)

In Africa, most stakeholders believe that land tenure and registration systems were borrowed from Europe. As a matter of fact, the land tenure systems introduced in the late nineteenth century by colonialists in their respective colonies had never been applied in their countries. The purpose of this brief is to show how Europe created and secured its own ownership system from the old customary rights without ever resorting to the administrative registration of land.
Full text of this (...)

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puce Overlapping of Land Rights in Europe. (Joseph Comby)

In Africa, it is often assumed that securing land tenure rights necessarily involves administrative land titling to give owners all rights on their lands, as opposed to the insecurity of various customary rights that overlap with one another. The history of Europe shows instead that rights on land can be secure, while remaining multiple. It reveals many layers of competing rights in the same space. However, conflicts are rather seldom, mainly because of a good definition of individual (...)

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puce Limitations of the concept of vulnerable groups in the area of land tenure security. (Oussouby Touré)

Some people are vulnerable in terms of land ownership, in other words they are actors who typically experience insecurity as far as their rights to develop land and natural resource are concerned. However, one may wonder whether the concept “vulnerable groups” is not used by development actors in an indiscriminate way. The so called vulnerable groups do not appear
as homogenous social categories as they are alleged to be and any group of actors can sink into a situation of land insecurity. (...)

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puce Land tenure and migration. (Mahamadou Zongo)

Migration is mostly seen through the media exposure of conflicts between natives and migrants. Yet, social relationships between migrants and natives go well beyond conflicts and ethnicity to eventually generate new solidarity and interdependency networks at the local level. This brief analyzes the land tenure dimension of migrations in rural areas, especially accommodation and integration mechanisms, as well as emerging strategies. It highlights the local changes of which both natives and (...)

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puce Decentralized vs. local management of land tenure: The Niger case history. (Adam Kandine)

In West Africa, decentralization of rural land tenure management systems is considered as the way forward by many actors. However, over a decade ago, Niger established through its Land Commission (COFO), an original system for the local management of land issues in rural areas, even before the decentralization process was launched. This brief presents the achievements and difficulties associated with local land tenure management system as established by Land Commissions. It also questions (...)

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puce Alternative land tenure conflict management mechanisms: Analytical tools. (Koffi Alinon)

Conflicts related to natural resource management, and especially land tenure, tend to be more and more exacerbated. Judicial systems responsible in theory for the settlement of land conflicts have failed to find efficient solutions in the particular context of African countries, where national legislations and traditional customs coexist. This perspective prompts consideration of alternative land tenure conflict management mechanisms as the appropriate option for these countries.
Full (...)

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puce Local authorities and local territories in rural West Africa. (Éric Idelman)

The process of transferring the land tenure management authority from the central government to local authorities involves the determination of the jurisdiction of the future incumbent authorities, i.e. their control on a set of specified land and natural resources. But, why does the delimitation of local authorities’ area of influence cause so many problems in most West African countries? Does decentralization not usually result in the artificial and top-down creation of local (...)

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puce Rights to Land and Natural Resources (Michel Merlet)

When we look at access to land and security of tenure, we talk about formal ‘ownership titles’, ‘informal written contracts’ and oral agreements between various
parties. The rights and rights holders concerned are not usually specified something that often leads to misunderstandings and even conflict. This paper aims to help fill this gap by proposing a clear, simple method for characterising rights to land and natural resources and holders of land rights that
can easily be applied in (...)

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puce Examples of the diversity of rights holders and rights to land and natural resources in West Africa (Michel Merlet, Kouadio André Yobouet)

‘Modern’ legal categories rarely take full account of the complexities of reality on the ground. Worse still, they sometimes lead to profound changes in social and economic relations, since providing security for one type of rights holder or issuing a particular land title (full or absolute) may negate the rights
of other types of rights holders. The three examples (from Niger, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast) outlined in this document suggest that we should always think of land as both a (...)

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puce Decentralization in Mali: a constrained ”responsibility transfer“ process. (Cheibane Coulibaly)

For many observers, the decentralization policy in Mali is one of the most audacious ones in Africa, because of the high number of institutions created: 683 new "communes“ (in addition to the 19 already existing), 52 ”cercles“, 8 regions and the District of Bamako. The number of those institutions has made the issue of authority, responsibility and resource transfer from the central government to all these levels central to the decentralization process. The following two critical questions (...)

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puce Securing and regulating land tenure: putting the issues before the tools. Some of the obstacles to coherent policies (Vincent Basserie, Patrick D'Aquino)

Many West African countries are currently in the process of reforming their land policies. Discussions tend to focus on the tools and mechanisms for securing and regulating land tenure; but while tools are
certainly a vital part of the process, it is important to understand that the same tool can serve very different interests depending on how it is conceived and used. Are we sufficiently aware of the diversity of issues that may be associated
with a land policy? And what do we know (...)

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puce Aspects and characteristics of State-owned land in West Africa. (Gérard Chouquer)

West African land regimes are based on particular constructs of State-owned land. This paper aims to clarify the different conceptions of State-owned land so that we can better assess their implications for land policies and understand the nature of this type of land in Africa.
Full text of this paper available on AGTER’s knowledge base on Natural Resources Governance around the World. You can also download it on this page.
This is one of the PEDAGOGIC FACTSHEETS to gain understanding, (...)

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puce Land tax (Joseph Comby)

Annual land tax is one of the oldest and simplest of taxes, yet it
has long been neglected in West African countries where land ownership is still viewed as a privilege. In this paper we are considering what is still seen as a
taboo subject. Contrary to received wisdom, it is possible to introduce a basic annual land tax without a land register or a computerised system. This has
been proved in many cases. While certain precautions obviously need to be taken to minimise the social impacts (...)

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puce Women and land (Mariatou Koné)

Analysis of women’s access to land in West Africa shows that they are central to agricultural development as land users, but rarely have the same access to this resource as men. They mainly have limited and temporary
rights, although situations do vary. Increasing efforts are being made to remedy this through legislative texts and various bodies and non-governmental organisations, but it is particularly difficult in a context of social change and when other social categories, including (...)

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puce Collaboration on formal land policies: the missing link for West African land tenure systems? (Hubert Ouedraogo et Vincent Basserie)

Most francophone African states nationalised the colonial land tenure systems they inherited at Independence and then periodically adjusted them according to the situation in each country. Their citizens have yet to enjoy secure land rights, and there is still a yawning gap between the law and actual practice at both the lowest and highest levels. This paper argues that the challenge of securing tenure can only be met successfully by adopting clear and consensual land policies; and that (...)

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