The Graduate School of
Asian and African
Area Studies (ASAFAS) Kyoto University Tembea (Staff Only)
The 12th KU-TUFS research exchange seminar
“Consequences of Land Tenure Reform in Africa”
The 12th KU-TUFS research exchange seminar (also as the 94th KUASS) will be held jointly with African Studies Center at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies and the Center for African Area Studies at Kyoto University. This seminar will examine the consequences of land tunure reform implemented in African countries, based on cases from Rwanda, Ethiopia, Ghana and Zambia.
Date: 14:00-18:00, 19th November 2019 (Tuesday)
Venue: Seminar Room (#318), 3rd Floor, Inamori Center, Kyoto University [MAP]
Many African countries have launched land tenure reforms since the 1990s. Whereas motivations of the reforms vary from one country to another, they have been carried out in the context of dominant neo-liberal thoughts and with a strong support of international donors. As a result, main purpose of these reforms have been similar; aiming at securing land rights of individuals and communities, they have facilitated to issue land certificates. Despite the similarities of the adopted policies, their consequences have considerably varied. On one hand, in countries like Rwanda and Ethiopia, the reform has given the governments to effectively control the territory through various policy measures including land registration. On the other hand, traditional chiefs have successfully maintained their power over land in countries such as Zambia and Ghana. After giving a brief overview of such consequences, the presentation focuses the case of Rwanda and examines why and how the country has strengthened the state control over land.
The idea in this article is taken from the interview I had with one of the farmers in a small town, Laga Xafo Laga dadhi, which is bordering Addis Ababa city in the eastern direction. The main focus of the paper is to explicate the dynamism of land market in this particular urban centre. The data is gathered through in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, and analysis of data from records of municipal sector offices. The findings of the study show that urban land is highly politicized and the number of actors in the land market is mounting as the town is one of the areas where both public and private development projects are undertaken. In the meantime the meaning of land has appeared in two competing forms. One form is the usual local community understanding which considers land as ‘mother’, land as source of life, while the other is the commercializing meaning which tags land as any commodity to be sold and resold any time under any condition in the market. It is this meaning of land that has laid a lush ground for the proliferation of both visible and invisible actors in the land market. These actors often exhibit legal, illegal, and/or invisible identities as alternative means of accessing land for themselves and for availing it for others for unforeseen reciprocity.
In Ghana, since the 1990s, the process of administrative land reform has involved an increasing delegation of authority over land to chiefs. This is recognised in the 1992 constitution, which lays out the claims of chiefs on land and their precise rights to royalties or rents in land. This is also reflected in the creation of customary land secretariats under the Land Administration Programme (LAP), which attempts to build management facilitates for the recording of land transactions within the offices of chiefs. This paper critically examines the extent to which this represents a strengthening of the rights of farmers and resource users to land - as is articulated within the framework of communitarian land rights under liberalised markets. It examines the relationship between farmers, chiefs, and the state within a historical context; the straddling between traditional, business and political elites; and the commodification of land. It is argued that within contemporary society this process of communitarian land reform does not reflect greater security for producers in land but a strengthening of the commodification of land and rentier capital in land that facilitates investments in land and the transfer of land from peasant users to investors.
The Zambian Government enacted the 1995 Land Act with the aim of stimulating investment and agricultural productivity. At the time when the Act was passed, land-market reforms significantly affected both communally-held customary land and individual livelihoods. The Land Act strengthened the role and power of traditional leaders, as it empowered them to allocate customary land to individuals and companies, including local elites and foreign investors. In the Bemba chiefdom of northern Zambia, the chiefs have been granted not only considerable autonomy with regard to land administration but also substantial power over land owners in their territories.
Men who had left the villages began working at the age of 20 from the time of the Independence, 1964, and they retired at the age of 55 from 2000 onward. The retirees did not want to remain in the towns because of financial problems and planned to seek the third villages because they did not wish to return to their home villages. After consulting the chief and headman in the area they had chosen to live in, they were granted land rights and enclosed their land. To secure land rights, they need to be recognized by the surrounding local residents. Using their accumulated capital, the retirees were eager to build houses and stock rooms, and to cultivate the fields and plant trees. Local residents were also granted land rights by their chief to enable them to defend their land. Land has become scarce and evaluated by its monetary value. Although the land rights can be invalidated by a new chief, the number of land allocations has been increasing rapidly. The land rights are recognized via a complex system under the national Land Act and via local contexts involving chiefs, headmen, and surrounding residents.
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