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Individualisation and the assault on customary tenure in Africa: title registration programmes and the case of Somalia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 December 2011

Extract

Over the past forty years, programmes intended to individualise rights to land have been introduced across Africa. These programmes are supported by an ideology which argues that individualisation is a necessary prerequisite of agricultural investment and development. Utilising data collected on the effects of the national title registration programme in Somalia, and drawing on similar studies of registration programmes in other African countries, this article challenges the assumption that individualisation and registration necessarily result in improved agricultural investment and productivity. On the contrary, the data reviewed here suggest that such programmes have contributed to concentration of ownership, growing landlessness, insecurity of tenure, wealth inequalities, and even declining productivity in many areas. The motivation behind individualisation and registration programmes is analysed, including an examination of the colonial and Western ideological distinction between African ‘communal’ land tenure and modern Western individualised tenure, struggles for power over control of resources, and a tendency to treat land tenure as solely an economic (rather than social) institution.


Résumé

Au cours des quarante dernières années, des programmes destinés à individualiser les droits de propriété foncière ont été introduits à-travers l'Afrique. Ces programmes sont soutenus par un idéologic qui argumente que l'individualisation est une condition préalablement nécessaire pour l'investissement et le développement de l'agriculture. Utilisant les données recueillies sur les effets du programme d'inscription au titre national en Somalie, et s'inspirant d'études similaires sur les programmes d'inscription dans d'autres pays africains, cet article défie la supposition que l'individualisation et l'inscription aboutissent nécessairement à des investissements et productivités agricoles améliorés. Au contraire, les données qui font ici l'objet d'un compte rendu suggèrent que ces programmes ont contribué à la concentration de possessions fonciéres, une augmentation du nombre de ceux qui ne possèdent pas de terres, une insécurité de la tenure, des inégalités de richesse, et même une productivité déclinante dans beaucoup d'endroits. La motivation derrière l'individualisation et les programmes d'inscription est analysée, y compris une étude sur la distinction idéologique coloniale et occidentale entre la tenure communautaire africaine et la tenure individualisée occidentale moderne, les disputes pour avoir le pouvoir sur le contrôle des ressources, et une tendance à traiter la tenure comme étant seulement une institution économique (plutôt que sociale).


Type
The ‘local factor’ in economic and political analysis
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Copyright
Copyright © International African Institute 1994

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