Land and natural resource rights in Africa are crucial to development - and are in a state of dynamic change.

Countries across the continent are re-evaluating and revising their systems of land and natural resource governance many of which have been in place since the end of colonialism. 

Basic realities drive the need for change.  Insecure land rights underlie persistent food insecurity.  According to the World Bank, only 10 percent of rural land is registered.  Without secure documented land rights—whether individual or communal—the risks of expropriation increase, and farmers may be less able or willing to make long-term investments needed to grow more food for their families and to sell.

Rapidly growing urban populations are also hostage to insecure property rights.  More than 60 percent of urban growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is in the informal settlements in and around cities, where millions live without basic city services and basic rights, such as the right secure housing. 

But change is underway. As of 2002, at least 20 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa had recognized customary land rights and gender equality, at least to some extent. Countries—including Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda—are pioneering new land governance and land administration systems.  Reform is a process, and the challenges of implementation are high. But the potential benefits are higher still.

Click on a country to find a variety of national experiences pertaining to land and natural resource rights.