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Changes in "customary" land tenure systems in Africa

Edited by Lorenzo Cotula


Across rural Africa, land legislation struggles to be properly implemented, and most resource users gain access to land on the basis of local land tenure systems. These usually involve diverse combinations of “statutory” and “customary” entitlements, and multiple and overlapping rights over the same resource.

In recent years, earlier emphasis on replacing “customary” with “modern” tenure systems has given way to a recognition that land policies and laws must build on local practice. Several African countries have recently adopted legislation that provides (some degree of) protection for local land rights.

This shift in policy thinking raises the need better to understand what is happening to land tenure systems on the ground

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