Securing land rights in Africa: learning lessons from recent experience

Camilla Toulmin (Lancaster University)
Human, plant and animal health
Start time:
12 September, 2006 at 16:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:


Long abstract:

Land is a key asset for rural livelihoods and economic development across Africa. In much of the continent, land-based activities contribute a major share of GDP and employment, and constitute the main livelihood basis for a large portion of the rural population. In many areas, however, land is becoming increasingly scarce due to a variety of pressures, including demographic growth. These pressures have resulted in increased competition for land between different groups, such as multiple land users (farmers, herders, etc.), urban elites and foreign investors. Moreover, socio-economic change has in many places eroded the customary rules and institutions that have traditionally administered land rights. Policies and programmes to increase land tenure security for local resource users are crucial to improving rural livelihoods and promoting pro-poor growth, equity, sustainable land use and peaceful coexistence in Africa. Ongoing experimentation in several African countries with new approaches to securing land rights may provide insights on how to do this. In Ethiopia, for instance, innovative land registration systems are being designed and pilot programmes carried out in several states. In Ghana, an ambitious Land Administration Programme has begun, which has chosen to do much of its work through Customary Land Secretariats. In Mozambique, the 1997 Land Law is being implemented, a law which has been recognised internationally as demonstrating a strong pro-poor approach. And, in some recent large-scale foreign investment projects, attention has been paid to tackling issues of land expropriation and compensation - overall, with mixed results. What lessons can be learnt from this experience?