Africa

This paper links women’s empowerment in the democratisation process to the sexual division of labour and resources in land management.

The focus of the workshop, and of this report, is on the policy and legislative challenges raised by the commons in an era where many vocal actors see privatisation as the only way forward. Such challenges are examined at different levels: local (local agreements for the shared management of natural resources), national (government policies, legislation), regional (protocols for the management of transboundary resources; treaties on cross-border transhumance) and international (the Convention on Bio-Diversity).

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. There is growing recognition that land laws must build on local practice. In recent years, several African countries have adopted legislation that strengthens protection for local land rights. This raises the need to understand what is happening to land tenure systems on the ground.

Land policies in Africa have often overlooked the interests of certain social groups. In some areas, traditional access and ownership rights for women, migrants and pastoralists have been ignored or reduced. The rise of HIV/AIDS in the region has created new social groups who are vulnerable to discrimination by land policies. As new policies are formed in the region, it is important to consider why these groups have been excluded. This will help to ensure that future policies represent these groups more fairly.

As stated in the Introduction, “this study reviews the main features of the new wave of land policy and legislation in sub-Saharan Africa, and identifies emerging issues concerning land tenure in the continent. The study draws lessons from recent experience in the following key areas: tenure security and land tenure reform; land redistribution; decentralised land management and administration; land conflict; protecting the land rights of vulnerable groups; land and rural-urban links; land and broader development policies and programmes.
Legislation can be instrumental in impeding or promoting initiatives to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The widespread legal, social, economic and political ramifications of the epidemic make it necessary to review and reform a broad range of laws. Within a context of entrenched gender discrimination, the devastating impacts of HIV/AIDS, widespread poverty and increasing competition for resources such as property and land, legislative solutions to the denial of women’s rights are urgently needed.

This is a summary of a report of findings from 10 countries including Senegal and Nigeria.

This report documents the tragic reality that under both statutory and customary law, the overwhelming majority of women in Sub-Saharan Africa (including Nigeria and Senegal) – regardless of their marital status- cannot own or inherit land, housing and other property in their own rights. Instead, in respect of access to land and housing, women are made entirely dependent on their relationship to a male.

This is a new edition of a continent-wide set of profiles first published 10 years previously. The brevity of the profiles and the standardised comparisons make this a useful reference. The profiles reflect a decade of work on Africa by the Land Tenure Centre, University of Wisconsin. They take into recent developments and the persistence of land tenure as a “volatile policy domain”.

The debate over land law reform in Africa has been framed as a referendum on the market – that is, as a debate pitting advocates of the growth-promoting individualization of property rights against those who call for protecting the livelihoods and subsistence rights of small farmers. This article argues that the prospect of land law reform also raises a complex bundle of constitutional issues. In many African countries, debates over land law reform are turning into referenda on the nature of citizenship, political authority, and the future of the liberal nation state itself.
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