Putting land rights at the forefront of development
Explore this map to discover how land and natural resources rights relate to agriculture; conflict; the environment; governance; large-scale land acquisitions; natural resource management; and women in countries throughout Africa.
Why Focus on Land in Africa
People across rural Africa depend on the land and natural resources for food, income and physical well-being. Secure land rights give farmers the confidence to invest in their land and encourages its sound stewardship, helping to improve food security and increase incomes. Clear and equitable land and natural resource rights help create a stable environment for investments of all kinds as countries work to end poverty.
Across most of rural Africa, however, land and natural resource rights are anything but secure. Weak, confusing and contradictory laws and customs provide opportunities for the political and economic elite to acquire land held by rural people. Land conflicts can spiral out of control.
Women’s land rights are particularly tenuous. And, as the main producers of her family’s food, the loss of a woman’s land rights is a family tragedy.
There are solutions
Most African countries have at least begun introduction of land policy reforms in recent years. The African Union has adopted a policy framework to strengthen land rights and secure livelihoods. Policy makers, customary authorities, civil society organizations, and the development community are paying increased attention to land and natural resource rights. Now is the time to do so, for pressures on land are mounting, and a scramble for Africa’s natural resources is undermining local land rights.
Ultimately, who has the right to use and benefit from the land and its natural resources profoundly influences the economic and social options available to all.