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Gendered Water and Land Rights in Construction: Rice Valley Improvement in Burkina Faso

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Van Koppen, Barbara
Conference: Crossing Boundaries, the Seventh Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Conf. Date: June 10-14
Date: 1998
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/95
Sector: Social Organization
Water Resource & Irrigation
Land Tenure & Use
Region: Africa
Subject(s): IASC
water resources
land tenure and use
property rights
Abstract: "It is widely assumed that local gender and class hierarchies are the major obstacles for achieving equity. However, skewed expropriation and vesting of new rights exclusively in the local male elite or male heads of households may result from how an agency structures local forums and determines title criteria. This chapter analyzes negotiations on water and land rights under externally supported construction of water infrastructure in southwest Burkina Faso, West Africa. "The project used the concept of the unitary household to legitimize expropriation of women's rights to rice land. Initially the local forum was dominated by the male elite and paid male construction workers. At later sites, allocation became producer-based. At the initiative of local male leaders, forums expanded to include women, who farmed almost all the rice land. Decision-making on title criteria was based on productivity considerations and on respect for former rights, which were registered before construction started. These locally invented practices crystallized into a standard procedure for expropriation and reallocation, which was time-efficient and in which productivity considerations prevailed over short-term construction interests."

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