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Structures and Stratagems: Making Decentralization of Authority over Land in Africa Cost-Effective

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  • Bruce, John W.
  • Knox, Anna

Abstract

Summary Community-led land tenure reform requires specification of "the community," and this raises long-standing issues concerning the balance between civil and traditional local authorities in Africa. Recent experience with decentralization of authority over land suggests that the cost of creating new local land administration capacities is high. A less costly option is reliance at least in part upon traditional authorities, who de facto retain considerable popular legitimacy and still control land in much of rural Africa, and experience suggests opportunities for creative institutional amalgams of civil and traditional local authority. There are very considerable differences among traditional authority structures in Africa, and so the potential of this approach will vary from case to case. In developing such decentralized systems, the interests of transparency and accountability will best be served by creating checks and balances between the different levels of land administration.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruce, John W. & Knox, Anna, 2009. "Structures and Stratagems: Making Decentralization of Authority over Land in Africa Cost-Effective," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 1360-1369, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:37:y:2009:i:8:p:1360-1369
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Deininger, Klaus & Ali, Daniel Ayalew & Holden, Stein & Zevenbergen, Jaap, 2008. "Rural Land Certification in Ethiopia: Process, Initial Impact, and Implications for Other African Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(10), pages 1786-1812, October.
    2. Diana Hunt, 2004. "Unintended Consequences of Land Rights Reform: The Case of the 1998 Uganda Land Act," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 22(2), pages 173-191, March.
    3. Gebremedhin, Berhanu & Pender, John & Tesfay, Girmay, 2003. "Community natural resource management: the case of woodlots in Northern Ethiopia," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(01), pages 129-148, February.
    4. World Bank, 2004. "Decentralization in Madagascar," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 14921.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yin, Runsheng, 2016. "Empirical linkages between devolved tenure systems and forest conditions: An introduction to the literature review," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 271-276.
    2. Ali, Daniel Ayalew & Deininger, Klaus & Goldstein, Markus, 2014. "Environmental and gender impacts of land tenure regularization in Africa: Pilot evidence from Rwanda," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 262-275.
    3. Sikor, Thomas & Müller, Daniel & Stahl, Johannes, 2009. "Land Fragmentation and Cropland Abandonment in Albania: Implications for the Roles of State and Community in Post-Socialist Land Consolidation," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 1411-1423, August.
    4. Brooks, Karen & Zorya, Sergiy & Gautam, Amy & Goyal, Aparajita, 2013. "Agriculture as a sector of opportunity for young people in Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6473, The World Bank.
    5. Deininger, Klaus & Hilhorst, Thea & Songwe, Vera, 2014. "Identifying and addressing land governance constraints to support intensification and land market operation: Evidence from 10 African countries," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 76-87.
    6. Naughton-Treves, Lisa & Wendland, Kelly, 2014. "Land Tenure and Tropical Forest Carbon Management," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 1-6.

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