Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
12-04: Formalizing Customary Land
Thursday, 23/Mar/2017:
2:45pm - 4:15pm

Session Chair: Margaret Rugadya, Ford Foundation, Kenya
Location: J B1-080

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ID: 524 / 12-04: 2
Individual Papers
Oral Presentation
Topics: Securing land rights for equity, sustainability and resilience
Keywords: Northern Uganda, Acholi, communal land

Piloting the Protection of Customary Land Rights in Acholiland: A Research Project of the Joint Acholi Sub-regional Leaders’ Forum (JASLF) and Trόcaire

Ronald R. Atkinson1, James O. Latigo2, Emmet Bergin3

1University of South Carolina, United States of America; 2Joint Acholi Sub-region Leaders' Forum; 3Trócaire

This presentation, based on evidence-based field research, provides an overview of a project documenting how customary communal land is organised, managed and administered in 46 clan-based land-holding groups in the Acholi sub-region of northern Uganda.

The project was commissioned by the Joint Acholi Sub-regional Leader’s Forum following the return of the Acholi rural population to pre-displacement land after a twenty-year conflict. The main goal has been to obtain information concerning both the core principles and practices of Acholi customary communal land tenure and the complex local-level variations across the sub-region, with the ultimate goal of enhancing the protection and security of customary land rights and land use for both individuals and communities.

This conference presentation provides an overview of some of the main field-research findings and recommendations, including following up on the strong sentiment of those interviewed that their communal land be demarcated and registered. It provides foundations for what could be – if follow-up research can be scaled up and implemented across Acholi – a comprehensive evidence-based exercise that responds directly to a recent World Bank study that identifies “organising and formalising communal groups, demarcating communal land boundaries and registering communal rights” as key to improving land administration in Sub-Saharan Africa.


ID: 512 / 12-04: 3
Individual Papers
Either of these formats
Topics: Academic research on land governance / rigorous impact evaluations
Keywords: land governance, customary land secretariat

Assessment Of Impacts Of Pilot Interventions In Customary Land Administration. Evidence From The Ghana Land Administration Project

Sarah Antwi-Boasiako

Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Ghana

Customary land governance in Ghana has over the years been characterized by lack of transparency and accountability and tenure insecurity due to indeterminate boundaries, protracted litigation, poor records keeping and general indiscipline in the land market. Formal laws operates alongside customary laws and practices on land. Whilst about 80 percent of the lands belongs to customary authorities, only 20 percent are state owned. Customary authorities often lack the requisite expertise to administer and manage their lands. The problem required immediate interventions to improve the customary land governance system in Ghana.

The government through the Ghana Land Administration Project has initiated a number of pilot interventions in selected Traditional Areas across the country over the last ten year. They include the establishment of customary land secretariats, demarcation of customary boundaries; ascertainment of customary laws on land and family and demarcation of rural parcels. Whiles some successes have been achieved in terms of numeric targets, assessment of actual impacts on beneficiaries has not been undertaken. This paper presents finding of an independent assessment of the pilot interventions in improving customary land governance and ensuring tenure security and linkages of the outcomes to the overall national development agenda.


ID: 291 / 12-04: 4
Individual Papers
Oral Presentation
Topics: Securing land rights for equity, sustainability and resilience
Keywords: Traditional, Resilient, Sustainable, Customary, Community

Securing Family And Community Land Rights For Equity And Sustainability Through Resilient Traditional Land Management Institutions

Judy Adoko1, Liz Neate2

1Land and Equity Movement in Uganda - LEMU, Uganda; 2Land and Equity Movement in Uganda - LEMU, United Kingdom

The majority of Ugandans hold land under the customary land tenure system. Whilst customary tenure is recognized in law, the traditional governance system under which it is managed, has not until recently been recognized. This paper sets out that for those communities seeking to use a customary approach, their rights are best managed and protected through traditional management institutions.

Many customary approaches to land management cannot be accommodated in a freehold system. Traditional governance systems are progressive and can respect family traditions, as well as promoting sustainable agricultural methods. To achieve security and certainty over rights, some of the major tribes in Uganda have written down their own land rights and responsibility for land management.

The pursuit of freehold has weakened the traditional system (despite the latter being recognized in law) by promoting it as preferable. The customary system does not require replacement. In failing to accommodate traditional processes in favor of freehold, there is a serious risk of undermining customary methods for managing and protecting the vulnerable and providing them with livelihoods safety nets. This is evidenced in the Uganda example, and applicable in other similar situations.


ID: 1012 / 12-04: 5
Individual Papers
Oral Presentation
Topics: Harnessing geospatial data, cloud platforms and other data technologies

Customary Leaders Mapping Parcels in Mauritania and Senegal

Mamadou Baro

University of Arizona, United States of America

To be completed

ID: 562 / 12-04: 6
Individual Papers
Oral Presentation
Topics: Securing land rights for equity, sustainability and resilience

Reconciling Customary and Statutory Resource Rights for Land-Use Planning in Zambia

Matthew Sommerville1, Simon Norfolk2, Terence Mothers3, Moses Phiri4, Bwalya Chuba5

1USAID Tenure and Global Climate Change Project, Zambia; 2Terra Firma Ltd.; 3Terra Firma Ltd.; 4Petauke District Land Alliance; 5USAID Tenure and Global Climate Change Project, Zambia

There is growing momentum in Zambia to provide opportunities for households and communities to document their customary land rights, which USAID has been supporting since 2014. Most of these chiefdoms have pockets of land that is ostensibly state land, but which is de facto under community/customary control, for example game management areas, resettlement camps, forgotten forest reserves, pre-colonial titled farms and game ranches. Additionally, the state has management rights over all forest and wildlife, even on customary land. Given Zambia’s one way transition process for conversion of customary land to state land and the vast areas within limited state presence, many of these statutory rights are latent, and in some cases are unknown to government. The documentation of customary rights in this context will raise these latent claims and has the potential for government to reassert tenure rights over these areas and resources.

This paper will describe the process that USAID’s Tenure and Global Climate Change Project is undertaking across a 200,000+ hectare chiefdom to systematically document customary rights, while navigating relationships and agreements with a variety of Ministries and Departments to clarify customary rights across a range of overlapping customary and statutory tenure systems.


ID: 1053 / 12-04: 7
Invited Paper

Why Traditional Chiefs Engage in Land Administration and Experiences so far

Victoria Kalondwe

Her Royal Highness Chieftainess Mkanda, Zambia

Victoria Kalondwe, is Chieftainess Mkanda of the Chewa People of Chipata District under Paramount Chief Gawa Undi, whose area spreads across Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique. Chieftainess Mkanda is one of 212 Chewa chiefs across these three countries. Chieftainess Mkanda is responsible for allocation and administration of all customary land within her chiefdom. She is also responsible for law enforcement and management of traditional court systems. Since she was installed as Chief in 2010, she has participated in numerous development programs and was the first chief to complete a systematic land documentation process with USAID. Her Chiefdom is predominantly agricultural and borders Malawi. It is just 30 kilometers from Zambia’s Eastern Province Capital of Chipata. The Chewa practice matrilineal inheritance.

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