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BBC asks: Is land ownership at the root of Africa's problems?
On Wednesday, February 6 BBC news hosted a live radio broadcast posing the questions: "Is land ownership the root of Africa's problems? Should governments bring in laws to reform land ownership?"
Callers to the show highlighted problems of local land dispute caused by unclear tenure, corruption in land allocation processes, arbitrary evictions, and inability to resolve land disputes in overloaded court systems. Discussion also focused on a new law currently under debate in Uganda, which would strengthen the rights of tenants by requiring landlords to consult them before selling the land.
Africa land and natural resources specialist Liz Alden Wily was a guest on the program. In her remarks, she noted that only 10% of land in Africa is registered, effectively relegating most citizens as "squatters on their own land." Land conflicts often remain latent but can be sparked by political triggers, as is the case in the recent ethnic violence across Kenya. Wily estimated that roughly 75% of conflicts in Africa since 1990 have been related to land rights in some way.
Part of the remedy, according to Wily, is devolution of control to the local level, and support of customary and local arbitration systems to resolve these disputes.
Learn about forest land rights in Liberia here.
Posted By Megan Liddle at 9:16am on February 07, 2008
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