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Customary Land Tenure in the Modern World

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Wily, Liz Alden
Date: 2011
Agency: Rights and Resources Initiative, Washington, DC
Series: Rights to Resources in Crisis: Reviewing the Fate of Customary Tenure in Africa, Brief #1 of 5
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/7713
Sector: Land Tenure & Use
Region: Africa
Subject(s): land tenure and use
Abstract: "This is the first in a series of briefs about modern African land tenure that provides up-to-date analysis on the status of customary land rights in Sub-Saharan Africa. The purpose of the series is to inform and help to structure advocacy and action aimed at challenging the weak legal status of customary land rights in many African countries. This first brief provides a general background to customary land tenure today. A main conclusion is that this form of tenure represents the major tenure regime on the continent and one which is vibrantly active. This is not least because it is community-based and thus easily attuned to the concerns of present-day communities. Changes in customary land tenure also reflect often inequitable trends, including accelerating class formation and the concentration of landholding. Such trends, which jeopardize the rights of the majority poor, are increasingly having a direct effect on precious local common resources such as forests. Advocates must seek to ensure that land reforms are structured with the interests of poor majorities in mind."

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