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Developing tools to secure land rights in West Africa: a ‘bottom up’ approach

In West Africa, rural people’s access to land is being profoundly transformed by ecological, demographic, economic and social change. Intensified commercial agriculture is increasing pressure on higher-value land, and land disputes are on the rise. Both customary and statutory land management systems are evolving but are often not responding adequately to the tenure insecurity these changes bring. People are developing solutions locally and programmes to secure land rights in rural areas need to build on and support these efforts. This briefing distils lessons learnt through action research in West Africa that developed inclusive and locally rooted tools for securing land rights. It shows how such tools can help both implement and shape national policies, drawing on experience from Ghana and Mali.

This briefing has been produced under IIED’s Legal tools for citizen empowerment project.

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Land is life for millions of people across rural Africa. It is central for ensuring they have enough food to eat. Even if they are involved in other trades, land is an essential safety net for the rural poor during times of economic instability and helps define cultures and identities.

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Securing land rights in West Africa