The contributors to this book are all West Africans. They draw on their experience to find new ways of understanding land tenure. There is increasing concern about land and resource access in West Africa, both in governments and donor organizations. This concern has emerged as a result of: failed development projects, perceived by many to result from the neglect of land tenure issues; degradation of soils and vegetation which have been associated with poorly defined rules governing management of resources; higher levels of conflict in rural society arising from greater scarcity of natural resources; and the awareness that people need secure rights in order to invest in their farms and improve productivity. Land tenure systems are, therefore, strongly on the agenda of academics and policymakers in this region.
'In West Africa, the inequalities and conflicts created are less dramatic in scale than those in the ex-settler states of Southern Africa, but they are more widespread, as is evident not just from the cases studied in this volume, but also from the disputes and violence over settlement and land-use rights which recur frequently across the region. This volume will be a useful resource to anyone working on such issues in West Africa today... 'Thus this book serves as food for thought: is West Africa moving unavoidably towards a future of individually-held rights to resources and the accumulation of private holdings, at the expense of the communal tradition and the dispossession of the less powerful in society? The whole issue ties into the ongoing debate about development and inequality...The strong communal ethic of most African countries and the vein of real anger tapped by Mugabe's land redistribution suggest that a process of development based on resource accumulation and exploitation by the few will be a highly contested one.' - Olly Owen in Democracy & Development 'The book captures all the contemporary issues of land resource management and tenure and is useful for all who are interested in sustainable development.' - W.O. Larbi in Land Degradation and Development 'Many debates about poor agricultural performance and poverty reduction in sub-Saharan Africa focus on land tenure policy. West Africa is the centre of much recent policy innovation, so this edited volume provides a timely addition to a growing literature and ongoing debate about tenure systems. This book is especially relevant because it features the voices of West African researchers and practitioners, who are observing the outcome and direction of policy initiatives. ...Overall this book is a significant addition to the debate over resource tenure in sub-Saharan Africa...as a whole this volume provides important perspectives on the policies and pitfalls of changing dynamics of tenure in West Africa.' - Leslie C. Gray in African Affairs 'I found the collection to be informative and well done. It makes a valuable contribution to the literature. I would recommend it to both the generalist and the specialist reader.' - Donald L Sparks in African Studies Review 'Contributors to the book are all West Africans... the book captures all the contemporary issues of land resource management and tenure and is particularly useful for all who are interested in sustainable development, particularly rural resource policies and programmes, rights relating to agriculture, forestry, water, pastoralism, management of the common resources and, more importantly, systems that work in indigenous communities.' - W. O. Larbi in Land Degradation & Development
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