Examining the impact of customary land secretariats on decentralised land governance in Ghana: evidence from stakeholders in northern Ghana

Lankono, Charity Bazaabadire; Forkuor, David; Asaaga, Festus Atribawuni ORCID: 2023 Examining the impact of customary land secretariats on decentralised land governance in Ghana: evidence from stakeholders in northern Ghana. Land Use Policy, 130, 106665. 11, pp.

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The complexities of customary land tenure continue to dominate academic and policy debates on sustainable land management particularly in the sub-Saharan African context. Central to the raging debate is the idea of harmonizing the disparate customary and statutory tenure systems to afford clarity, certainty and safeguard tenure security of landholders. Towards this end, proponents have endorsed Customary Land Secretariats (CLSs) as an interface between traditional authorities and statutory land agencies. Yet there is relatively limited empirical evidence on the dynamics of customary land governance in the contemporary context. Drawing on mixture of household survey (n = 115) and key-informant interviews with landowners and CLS officials (n = 6), this paper explores the role of customary land secretariats as operational vehicles for improved customary land governance in the Upper East and West regions of Ghana. The findings demonstrate that whereas CLSs’ presented a good window of opportunity for strengthening decentralized land governance in the study areas, there were important gender-based differences in the knowledge of the core functions of the CLSs as well as women’s involvement in land related discourse in the study areas. The study found no female as a landowner (Tendamba) or land overlord and few women were land users in the study areas. This is suggestive of the limited participation of women in the existing customary land governance framework in the study areas. Although CLSs are expected to work as interface between traditional authorities and statutory land agencies, the level of involvement of landowners in the activities of CLSs was very minimal, suggestive of a disconnect between the Tendambas and the CLSs. These findings have far reaching implications in terms of ongoing policy attempts at re-engineering customary land governance arrangements and to strengthen the CLSs framework to act as an interface for equitable land governance within the context of customary land management and tenure security in Ghana. As a way forward, the paper argues that context-specific strategies to gender mainstreaming and capacity building remains vital in strengthening the CLSs to deliver a ‘win-win’ equitable customary land management.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0264-8377
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: customary land tenure, tenure security, customary land secretariat, land governance, Ghana
NORA Subject Terms: Law
Agriculture and Soil Science
Date made live: 08 Aug 2023 14:41 +0 (UTC)

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