The authors argue that the process leading to the Rural Code has produced some important positive results which have contributed to easing conflicted relations between rural producers and strengthening land tenure security, notably amongst the weakest inhabitants. Some challenges to the implementation of the rural have arisen, notably lack of clarity and contradiction between some guiding principles.
In some West African countries, decentralisation and the establishment of local government are opening the way to more representative democratic processes. One hope is that, as a result, women will get more involved in public life. Access to land and natural resources in Mali and Niger is a prerequisite for secure livelihoods for the vast majority of people. Better participation in decision making, therefore, should mean that women are able to improve and secure their access to natural resources (including land) as well as to public services.
Since 1986 serious efforts have been made in Niger to prepare for reform of land tenure in the form of a Rural Code. This paper aims to outline some of the problems facing successful implementation of the Rural code in Niger and to sketch out some of the social and instituttional trends which emerge in one part of the country, the arondissements of Mirriah and matameye in the Zinder department in eastern Niger.
(also in French: En attendant le Code Rural: Réflexions sur une réforme de la tenure foncière au Niger)
For most women in the Sahel, if the husband passes away his closest family or his male children inherit his possessions. If a woman starts a vegetable garden and it proves successful, the husband can expel his wife from the garden and take it over. Women are also denied the right to own croplands.
Pastoralists in Niger are mobilising in an attempt to affirm their rights to home grazing territories. Their associations will be involved in consultations about the draft Pastoral Code, which should be written over the next three years, and it is their hope that this opportunity to re-examine weak or contradictory points in the legislation will improve the status of grazing lands.