Negotiating Rights: Access to Land in the Cotton Zone, Burkina Faso
This report describes the changing patterns by which people gain access to land in south west Burkina Faso. This region has seen considerable in-migration over the last 30 years, as people from drier parts of the country have sought new lands. This increase in population has brought scarcity in many areas and increased competition for land, leading to changes in the ways people negotiate access rights. It has brought increased tensions between indigenous people and migrants. Moreover, urban dwellers are seeking land for cultivation. A diverse array of institutions exist through which land access can be sought. As land has become more valuable, symbolic fees are being replaced by market rents, while long term loans are disappearing in favour of short lets. Government legislation has revoked customary tenure arrangements, although in practice these continue to operate. People seek to substantiate their claims over land by drawing up paper contracts. In such a context, the decentralisation process may provide a means to resolve ongoing difficulties regarding land claims.This paper forms part of a broader programme of research work undertaken jointly by the UK and French governments on Land Tenure and Resource Access in West Africa.