Tuesday, January 17, 2012


PUBLICATION: Decentralised Land Governance: Case Studies and Local Voices from Botswana, Madagascar and Mozambique (PLAAS)

An important new book from the Institute for Poverty Land, and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) is available online.

The purpose of this project was to develop an accessible book for policy makers and practitioners which locates selected country case studies within a broader theoretical and practical discussion on decentralised land governance in the context of increasing commercialisation of rural land.

The book sets out to give voice to local people, land rights activists and decentralisation practitioners in Botswana, Madagascar and Mozambique and to stimulate collaborative conversations among different sets of actors in the land sector in order to reflect on the different approaches and practices of decentralised land governance in the region.

The three cases aim to:

  • contribute to a shared understanding of changing local country contexts;
  • identify emerging country trends, highlighting the increasing competition for resources and the implications for the rural poor;
  • examine the evolution of approaches to decentralisation and the roles of state and non- state actors and institutions in the process;
  • explore gender differentiated impacts of decentralised land governance initiatives; and
  • identify approaches which practically strengthen rural people‚Äôs rights and ensure that their voices are heard in decision making process which impact on the changing use and management of land.

Overall the authors seek to:

  • facilitate debate among rural communities and civil society organisations about how to best respond to their fast changing environments and engage in collective action to balance power relations and secure their rights;
  • contribute to improving capabilities to support communities affected by tenure insecurity and deals involving land which communities depend upon for their livelihoods; and
  • provide space for reflection on practice.

The book is divided into three sections:

  1. An introduction to decentralised land governance, which sets the scene, provides contextualisation, and presents a brief review of the different approaches to decentralisation and their respective institutional and operational frameworks.
  2. In depth country case study reviews.
  3. A reflection on the issues and trends arising from the different country experiences which can inform an agenda for action.

The three case studies are located against the backdrop of changing land governance, tenure policy and legislation in each country. The case studies examine how power and authority over decision-making and resources or functions is distributed between central, regional and local levels of governance. They explore the roles and perspectives of other actors such as non-governmental bodies, traditional governance institutions, user associations or village committees, the private sector and other organisations of civil society.

Local voices identify lessons for policy and practice and highlight advocacy actions required to secure the land rights of vulnerable people in poor communities.

The cases collected in this book represent an important resource for researchers, policymakers, land reform practitioners and organisations working to strengthen democratic and downwardly accountable governance of land and natural resources.

Download the book (pdf).

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