Windows of opportunity or windows of exclusion? Changing dynamics of tenurial relations in rural Ghana

Asaaga, Festus A.; Hirons, Mark A.. 2019 Windows of opportunity or windows of exclusion? Changing dynamics of tenurial relations in rural Ghana. Land Use Policy, 87, 104042. 11, pp.

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Central to contemporary debates on land tenure in sub-Saharan Africa are questions concerning appropriate pathways to successfully harmonize customary and statutory land tenure arrangements to address normative goals of improving access to land and security of tenure for the poor and marginalized. These are particularly prevalent in the face of increasing commodification and individualisation of land rights. Developing appropriate land policies requires a detailed understanding of existing tenurial dynamics. This paper draws on a mixture of qualitative methods and a household survey among 380 farmers from 19 villages in the Kakum and Ankasa areas of southcentral and western Ghana, to explore the mechanisms of land access, control and ownership arrangements, focusing on key differentiations around gender, age and ethnicity. The results articulate how transformations in land tenure have shifted patterns of accessing land in favour of wealthier individuals to the relative disadvantage of women, young people and poor people regardless of ethnicity. The analysis further indicates that the ‘self-transformation’ or dynamism of local customary tenure arrangements is inadequate for addressing issues of challenges in access to and control of land, particularly by the vulnerable social groups. This is evidenced by some traditional authorities and local powerful elites capitalizing on the ‘new opportunities’ afforded by the emergent tenurial relations to advance their individual interests at the expense of the vulnerable groups. Overall, the study highlights how on-going changes in customary tenure arrangements towards individualisation are far more complex and socially embedded than is often assumed. The paper underscores the need for land policy reforms to shift away from static approaches geared towards promoting efficiency or merely lauding customary tenure arrangements towards more flexible approaches that accommodate the complexity of contemporary changes to land tenure arrangements.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0264-8377
Additional Keywords: land tenure, customary land tenure, statutory land tenure, Ghana, SSA
NORA Subject Terms: Economics
Date made live: 22 Jul 2019 13:51 +0 (UTC)

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