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Growing security: land rights and agricultural development in northern Senegal

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 July 2009

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Are “traditional” or “indigenous” land rights an obstacle to development? The question seems simple enough. And the liberal economic perspective currently being advanced by free market advocates such as the Bretton Woods institutions answers: yes, to the extent that those traditional relations hinder the free exchange of land, they do slow development. But of course the question is more complex and requires answers to a number of subsidiary and ancillary questions. Some are definitional and empirical: what are these “traditional land rights”? To what extent do they, rather than codified law or administrative practices, define the relationships of social actors and groups to land and to each other through land? Other questions are more hypothetical: what are the alternatives to the current regime, what costs would installing them incur, and what would be their costs and benefits, once in place? Finally, there are ancillary, but still central questions: what other factors, such as ecological conditions, state policies and non-state institutions, may account for development or the lack thereof, apart from land tenure regimes?

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Copyright © School of Oriental and African Studies 1999

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References

1 Pulaar, or Peul, is a language related to Fulani, various forms of which are spoken mostly by herders throughout the Sahel.

2 Such sales would be “unconstitutional”, i.e., “they were expressly precluded from the covenant that formed the basis of the social contract creating the community.” Rogier van den Brink and Bromley, Daniel W., The Enclosures Revisited: Privatization, Titling, and the Quest for Advantage in Africa, Working Paper 19, Washington, DC, 1992, 11.Google Scholar

3 Caveriviére, Monique and Débène, Marc, Le dmitfonder sénégalais, Paris, 1988, 67.Google Scholar

4 Noronha, Raymond and Lethem, Francis J., Traditional Land Tenures and Land Use Systems in Design of Agricultural Projects, Staff Working Paper No. 561, Washington, DC, 1983, iiiv and 16.Google Scholar

5 Van den Brink and Bromley, op. cit., n. 2, 8–9.

6 See generally Ester Boserup, The Conditions of Agricultural Growth: The Economics of Agrarian Change under Population Pressure, Chicago, 1965. Alternatively, strengthening the traditional institutions regulate access to and management of land, can ensure internalization of costs by users. See Cleaver, Kevin and Schreiber, Götz, “The population, environment, and agriculture nexus in sub-Saharan Africa”, in Srivastava, and Alderman, (eds.), Agriculture and Environmental Challenges, Washington, 1992, 204208Google Scholar. I refer to those who traditionally control land’s allocation and use as “landholders”, because they do not own the land; typically the entire community does, but member(s) of the elite have primary decision-making authority. Under Senegalese law, the entire Senegalese nation owns most of these lands. I refer to those who farm the land in exchange for rent payments to landholdersn tenderi or in kind as “tenants”. “User” or “farmer” refers to anyone actually farming the land, whether landholder or tenant, or, occasionally, a low-caste farmer who does not have a clear claim to the land, but who does not pay any rent. In the study region, landholders are often referred to as proprietaires (“owners”), indicating some permeation of capitalist notions of land ownership, although very few “owners” have freehold title to the land.

7 See, generally, Boserup, op. cit., n. 6; see also Binswanger, Hans P. and Rosenzweig, Mark R., “Behavioral and material determinants of production relations in agriculture”, (1986) 3 Journal of Development Studies 503539;CrossRefGoogle ScholarFeder, Gershon and Noronha, Raymond, “Land rights systems and agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa”, (1987) 2 World Bank Research Observer 143167 Noronha and Lethem, op. cit., n. 4, 17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

8 Hecht, Robert M., “Immigration, land transfer and tenure changes in Divo, Ivory Coast, 19401980”, (1985) 3 Africa 319336, 331–332.Google Scholar That is, the “buyer” has not obtained absolute title free of obligations to the “seller”. The social structures are often strong enough, as in the study region, that they resist the pressures that would otherwise lead to the emergence of a market, or adapt to those pressures without allowing a market to develop fully. Platteau, Jean-Philippe, Land Reform and Structural Adjustment in Sub-Saharan Africa: Controversies and Guidelines, Economic and Social Development Paper 107, Rome, 1992, 132.Google Scholar

9 Heath, John R., Land Rights in Côte d’lvoire: Survey and Prospects for Project Intervention, Technical Paper No. 238, Washington, DC, 1993, 5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

10 Platteau, op. cit., n. 8, 133–134; van den Brink and Bromley, op. cit., n. 2, 13–16, 19–20.

11 Ibid., 112–117, 148, 183–187, 239–242; Bruce, John W., Land Tenure Issues in Project Design and Strategiesfor Agricultural Development in Sub-Saharan Africa, LTC Paper 128, Madison, 1986, 24Google Scholar; Van den Brink and Bromley, op. cit, n. 2, 20–22.

12 Platteau, op. cit., n. 8, 120–127; Bruce, op. cit., n. 11, 24.

13 Van den Brink and Bromley, op. cit., n. 2, 17–18.

14 Platteau, op. cit., n. 8, 70–80, 196–198, 240–241.

15 Bruce, op. cit., n. 11, 24.

16 Platteau, op. cit., n. 8, 206–216; Caverivière and Débène, op. cit, n. 3, 300–301.

17 Platteau, op. cit., n. 8, 198–204.

18 Sylla, Cheikhou I., Ètude de la cuvette de Cascas: Aspectsfanciers des aménagements hydro-agricoks, Working Paper 029, St. Louis, Senegal, 1989, 2, 26Google Scholar; Platteau, op. cit., n. 8, 148–152.

19 Platteau, op. cit., n. 8, 122–123; Bruce, op. cit., n. 11, 24.

20 Platteau, op. cit., n. 8, 233.

21 Ibid. 134; Van den Brink and Bromley, op. cit., n. 2, 7–9.

22 Platteau, op. cit, n. 8, 152; Caverivière and Débène, op. cit., n. 3, 71. Justifications of the latter type may mask rent-seeking behaviour of the former.

23 Platteau, op. cit., n. 8, 170–174; Bruce, op. cit., n. 11, 28.

24 Bruce, op. cit., n. 11, 28; Cleaver and Schreiber, op. cit., n. 6, 201.

25 Platteau, op. cit., n. 8, 163–167.

26 Ibid.., 167–70; Bruce, op. cit., n. 11, 29.

27 Economic changes exacerbate these conflicts. Irrigation has allowed crops to be grown on greater areas over more of the year, closing off access to both land and water for pastoralists. Conversely, wells in the rain-fed highlands have increased the areas where herds can graze, reducing the formerly abundant rain-fed (i.e., non-irrigable) land usable by low-caste growers. Paul Mathieu, Madiodio Niasse and Pierre-Pol Vincké, “Aménagements hydro-agricoles, concurrence pour l’espace et pratiques foncières locales dans la vallée du fleuve Senegal: Le cas de la zone du Lac de Guiers”, in Crousse, Le Bris and LeRoy (eds.), Espaces disputés en Ajrique noire: pratiques, foncières locales, Paris, 1986, 226–227 and 233. The likelihood of such conflicts is increased where the state explicitly seeks to “sedentarize” herders and where land laws require residency on the land in order to secure usage rights.

28 Platteau, op. cit., n. 8, 170–174.

29 Heath, op. cit., n. 9, 40–41.

30 Ibid.., 35.

31 Platteau, op. cit., n. 8, 175–182; see also Cleaver and Schreiber, op. cit., n. 6, 204.

32 Heath, op. cit., n. 9, 47–48; see also, Berry, R. A. and Cline, W. R., Agrarian Structure and Productivity in Developing Countries, Baltimore, 1979.Google Scholar

33 Caverivière and Débène, op. cit., n. 3, 299–300.

34 “Family labour” presumably includes child labour, and should include the costs of forgoing education. In addition, women’s labour has a low marginal opportunity cost because women are undercompensated in wage labour and have their home labour undervalued.

35 Platteau, op. cit., n. 8, 51–55.

36 Ibid.., 56–58.

37 Ibid.., 61–63.

38 Ibid.., 67.

39 These must be genuine co-operatives, not top-down imitations where the state controls the cooperative. Certain Senegalese parastatals sought to create farming co-operatives, but treated the farmers as labourers rather than as autonomous entrepreneurs, and so faced the employer’s usual costs, including labour shirking, asset mismanagement, pilfering and underreporting of output.

40 Platteau, op. cit., n. 8, 247–252; Madiodio Niasse, Les acteursfanciers de l’après-barrage (rive gauche du fleuve Sénégal): Pesanteurs, tensions, tendances, unpublished dissertation, Université Cheikh Anta Diop-Dakar, 1989, 93–94.

41 Platteau, op. cit., n. 8, 253–271.

42 Ibid.., 253–271, 276–278.

43 Ibid.., 282–289.

44 Ibid., 126–127.

45 Ibid.., 68–70.

46 Ibid..

47 See, for example, that suggested by Platteau, in Ibid.., 218.

48 Loi No. 64–46, relative au Domaine National (1964).

49 Caverivière and Débène, op. cit., 3, 71, 225; Sylla, op. cit., n. 18, 46.

50 Caverivière and Débène, op. cit., n. 3, 226–227; Platteau, op. cit., n. 8, 154–155.

51 Lot No. 72–25, 19 juin 1972, sur la réforme de l’administratien tenitoriak.

52 Platteau, op. cit., n. 8, 154, 158–159; “Les prérogatives du Conseil rural”, (21 June, 1990) Le Soleil 3; Sylla, op. cit., n. 18, 46–17. The Rural Communities are often miles apart, and their residents often do not know each other. The Rural Councils also lack administrative resources, often allowing traditional, village-level authorities to wield greater influence than the councils. Caverivière and Débène, op. cit., n. 3, 189–190.

53 Loi No. 80–14, 3 juin 1980, sur la modification de l’administration territmiale, cited in Caverivière and Débène, op. cit., n. 3, 178. These decisions must then be approved by the sub-prefect, per a 1986 decree. Dicret No. 86–445, 10 juin 1986, cited in Ibid.., 186.

54 “Les enjeux fonciers dans le Delta: Les obstacles a la reforme”, (21 June, 1990) Le Soldi 2; Caverivière and Débène, op. cit., n. 3, 73, 207.

55 Caverivière and Débène, op. cit., n. 3, 73, 201; Platteau, op. cit., n. 8, 154–157.

56 D’cret No. 80–085, 29 Janvier 1980, sur l’entrée en vigueur de la Loi 72–25 dans la Région du Fleuve, “Les enjeux fonciers dans le Delta”, op. cit., n. 54.

57 Mamadou Niang, “La réforme de l’administration territoriale et locale au Sénégal”, (1981) 172 Notes Afrtfaines 106.

58 See, for example, Mala l N’Diaye, “A propos du Domaine National: Le Toucoûleur, la coutume, et la loi”, (20 August, 1976) Le Soleil 8. N’Diaye, an adjunct to the prefect of Podor Department, in the St. Louis Region, believed that this ignorance was wilful and protected the privileges of the religious authorities, who convinced the lower castes that to contest traditional land allocations was a sin. A response defended the local system as fair and maintained that the positions of traditional authority were open to all members of a clan, not inherited. D. W. Massy, “A propos du Domain National: Un Toucouleur repond”, (1 September, 1976) Le Soleil 9.

59 Ministère du Plan et du Développement, Synthèse des rapports du séminaire des cadres intermédiaires (1965) relative au Domaine National, Dakar, 1965, 5; see also Ministère du Plan et du Développement, Problèmes et programmes d’application de la Loi no. 64–46 relative au Domaine National, Dakar, 1966, 12; Ministère du Plan et du Développement, Commission interministérielle d’étude de l’appluatwn de la Loi relative au Domaine National, Dakar, 1967; Secretariat d’Etat aupres du Premier Ministre chargé du Plan, Communication en conseil interministériel sur le point aetuel de l’application de la loi relative au Domaine National, Dakar, 1971, 10–11. The 1966 report suggested various methods to disseminate the details of the LDN to local citizens and administrators, none of which was widely implemented.

60 “La délimitation, solution idoine”, (21 June, 1990) Le Soleil 3; Mathieu, Niasse, and Vincké, op. cit, n. 27, 235.

61 “Les prérogatives du Conseil rural”, op. cit., n. 52; Caverivière and Débène, op. cit., n. 3, 194–195.

62 Caverivière and Débène, op. cit., n. 3, 202–203.

63 Ibid.., 203–204, 307; Platteau, op. cit, n. 8, 154–157; “Les prérogatives du Conseil rural”, op. cit, n. 52.

64 Loi No. 64–46, op. cit., art. 13; DécretNo. 72–1288, 27 octobre 1972, sur la rèforme de l’adminislmtion lerritoriale; Caverivière and Débène, op. cit., n. 3, 204.

65 Caverivière and Débène, op. cit., n. 3, 71, 205, 236.

66 Ibid.., 206–207, 222. The valuation of land is especially hard to effect and review in the absence of a market for land. Compensation for capital improvements seems less problematic, in theory: the former affectaire may at least claim restitution for his costs, and perhaps for the expected benefits of the improvements.

67 Sylla, op. cit., n. 18, 22–24; Niasse, op. cit., n. 40, 167–170.

68 Niasse, op. cit., n. 40, 167–168.

69 Sylla, op. cit., n. 18, 32–33, 53.

70 Niasse, op. cit., n. 40, 168–169.

71 Platteau, op. cit., n. 8, 175–178; interview with Albert Sagna (Director, Centre d’expansion rurale polyvaknt, N’dioum) and Mary Liakos (Volunteer, Peace Corps, Kahel), in N’dioum, 23 June, 1996; Niasse, , op. cit., n. 40, 3236.Google Scholar

72 Platteau, op. cit., n. 8, 178–179; interview with Sagna and Liakos, op. cit., n. 71; Caverivière and Débène, op. cit., n. 3, 290; Niasse, op. cit., n. 40, 92. Government officials are still biased in favour of leasing large tracts to agribusiness in the name of efficiency andjobs for the rural population. Cheikh Thiam, “Amenagement et allocation des terres”, (15 November, 1993) Le Soldi 9, quoting Alioune Thioub Samb, agricultural engineer, SAED-Bakel.

73 Decree No. 86–445, of 10 June, 1986, requires that the prefect approve all council decisions regarding land.

74 Interview with Sagna and Liakos, op. cit., n. 71; Caverivière and Débène, op. cit., n. 3, 186

75 Interview with Sagna and Liakos, op. cit., n. 71; Caverivière and Débène, op., cit., n. 3, 221, 295; Platteau, op. cit., n. 8, 179–182; Sylla, op. cit., n. 18, 41; Mathieu, Niasse and Vincké, op. cit. n. 27, 230–231, 236.

76 Caverivière and Débène, op. cit., n. 3, 298–307.

77 Article 25 of Law No. 72–25 authorized the councils to form these bodies.

78 Interview with Sagna and Liakos, op. cit., n. 71.

79 Ibid.; Niang, op. cit, n. 57, 106; “Les enjeux fonciers dans le Delta”, op. cit., n. 54.

80 Sylla, op. cit., n. 18, 60.

81 Ibid.., 58, 66.

82 Interview with Sagna and Liakos, op. cit., n. 71; Caverivière and Débène, op. cit., n. 3, 180; Sylla, op. cit., n. 18, 62. The toorotobe do not always rule over these towns in a cohesive, unassailable manner. In Cascas, a group of toorotobe from different parts of the village attempted an agricultural project, but, because of their equal caste standing, none could assume a leadership role and the project was abandoned. See Sylla, op. cit., n. 58.

83 Sylla, op. cit., n. 18, 48–51, 51–54, 62.

84 Ibid.., 48–51; Interview with Sagna and Liakos, op. cit., n. 71; Caverivière and Débène, op. cit., n. 3, 180.

85 Interview with Sagn a and Liakos, op. cit., n. 71; interview with Abdullaye Gallo Bâ (President, Rural Council of Gamadji-Saré), 24 June, 1996, in N–Dioum; “Les enjeux fonciers dans le Delta”, op. cit., n. 54; Sylla, op. cit., n. 18, 64. In Gamadji-Saré, the traditional elites are particularly well entrenched: Mountoga Tall, who heads the national Tidiane Muslim brotherhood (rivals of the Mourides) hails from this community; his brother, Kadé Tall, is the most influential marabout in Gamadji-Saré. See interview with Sagna and Liakos, op. cit., n. 71.

86 Niasse, op. cit., n. 40, 94.

87 Sylla, op. cit., n. 18, 63.

88 The Rural Council appears to have been right. I have found no evidence of further activity by the conseil de notables.

89 Interview with Bâ, op. cit., n. 85; see also “Les enjeux fonciers dans le Delta”, op. cit., n. 54; “La délimitation, solution idoine”, op. cit., n. 60.

90 Dié Maty Fall, “Développement de la vallée: Rien ne se fera sans les populations”, (16–17 April, 1994) Le Soldi 4 (interview with Thierno Bâ, president of Projet intégré de Podor, a local development NGO).

91 Mathieu, Niasse and Vincké, op. cit, n. 27, 217, 228; Muneera Salem-Murdock and Madiodio Niasse, Land Use, Labour Dynamics, and Household Production Strategies: The Sénégal River Valley, IDA Working Paper No. 94, Binghamton, NY, 1993, 1.

92 Salem-Murdock and Niasse, op, cit., n. 91, 6–7, 13.

93 Ibid.., 8–12, 19.

94 Ibid.., 16; Niasse, op. cit., n. 40, 170.

95 Salem-Murdock and Niasse, op. cit., n. 91, 16–17.

96 Interview with Sagna and Liakos, op. cit., n. 71; Mathieu, Niasse and Vincké, op. cit., n. 27, 232.

97 Platteau, op. cit., n. 8, 142–143; interview with Sagna and liakos, op. cit., n. 71; interview with Bâ, op. cit., n. 85.

98 Other factors also slow development such as lack of access to reliable distribution networks, the state’s appropriation of large tracts of land (though this practice has abated in recent years), and uncertainty about the status of Mauritanian refugees. See Fall, op. cit., n. 90, 4; Niasse, op. cit., n. 40, 93–94.

99 Fall, op. cit., n. 90.

100 Interview with Sagna and Liakos, op. cit., n. 71; Niasse, op. cit., n. 40, 93–94; Caverivière and Débène, op. cit., n. 3, 282–283.

101 Fall, op. cit., n. 90; “Les enjeux fonciers dans le Delta”, op. cit., n. 54.

102 Interview with Sagna and Liakos, op. cit., n. 71; interview with Amadou Sow (president of Gestion villageoise de l’espace naturel de Podor, N’dioum), 24 June, 1996, in N’dioum; Fall, op cit., “Les enjeux fonciers dans le Delta”, op. cit., n. 54.

103 Niasse, op. cit., n. 40, 92.

104 Mathieu, Niasse and Vincké, op. cit., n. 27, 236–237.

105 Thiam, op. cit., n. 72.

106 Ibid..

107 Caverivière and Débène, op. cit., n. 3, 293.

108 Sylla, op. cit., n. 18, 70.

109 Décret No. 87–720, 4 avril 1987, Portant le reversement de certaines fortes pioniniès dans la Zone des terroirs. The report accompanying the decree suggested that local control would provide better resource management. Rapport de la présentation du pmjet du Décret portat le reversement de certaines Zones pioniires dans la Zone des terrmrs, Dakar, 1987. See also Salem-Murdock and Niasse, op. cit., n. 91, Niasse, op. cit., n. 40, 82–83.

110 GVEP has developed its own Méthode accélérée recherche participative (MARP)—and Méthode accélérée de planification participative (MAPP)–a more participatory version of the Peace Corps’ Rapid Rural Appraisal–and translated these tools into Pulaar.

111 Interview with Sagna and Liakos, op. cit., n. 71; interview with Sow, op. cit., n. 102.

112 Niang, op. cit., n. 57, 107–108; Caverivière and Débène, op. cit., n. 3, 306.

113 Interview with Gaspar Goumis (private farm owner, Casamance), 13 June, 1996, in Dakar; “Les enjeux fonciers dans le Delta: Les obstacles a la reforme”, (21 June, 1990) Le Soldi 2.

114 Caverivière and Débène, op. cit., n. 3, 298–299.

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