Wednesday, June 20, 2012
PUBLICATION: Land Governance in Africa (ILC)
A new publications from the International Land Coalition looks at how historical context has shaped key contemporary issues relating to policy on land.
This study outlines the main contemporary debates on land within Africa, and the frameworks and contexts that influence the framing and reform of land policy. The land question is placed within a historical context, which examines the changing frameworks of land administration across the continent and the influences of past policies on the present. This helps in identifying the economic, political, and social factors that have shaped the land question in different sub-regions. It also shows the evolution of debates and their often circular nature; recurring debates include customary versus statutory tenure, user rights, historical claims on land, individual property rights, and the need to create land markets for productive investments, as well as the relative efficiency of smallholder versus large estate agriculture and the need to protect livelihood interests of poor rural people.
Beginning with customary land tenure systems in the pre-colonial era, the study charts the evolution of land tenure and governance in different countries and regions during colonialism, independence, and the economic liberalism and structural adjustment policies of the late twentieth century. It examines the barriers to land access faced by groups such as women, pastoralists, tenants, and migrants, and questions the role of land titling in improving access to land. It also examines contemporary phenomena such as the upsurge in foreign investment and “land grabbing” for the production of food crops and biofuels, and for investment and speculation.
Recent initiatives in attempting to implement pro-poor land reforms have resulted in an increased awareness of the dynamics of customary land management, their political implications, and the need to create innovative institutions that facilitate dialogue among multiple interest groups. These are major achievements that need to guide future developments of land forums, policy debates, and new policy initiatives.