Registered land holders in Ethiopia display their certificates.

Credit: USAID. Registered land holders in Ethiopia display their certificates.

Land Governance and Law

Land governance addresses the ways in which decisions about the use of and control over land are made, implemented and enforced, and the way that competing interests are managed. In African countries, land governance is carried out by statutory, customary and religious institutions. Land administration and governance are closely related. Land administration focuses on the institutions and rules that manage land, while land governance embodies the larger political context in which land is managed.

As land is one of the most basic resources available to individuals and societies, most national constitutions and legislation define the tenets of land governance. However, many additional laws and regulations affect land governance including marriage and inheritance laws, and natural resources such as water and forests.

In many African countries, customary practices play a major role in land governance.  The vast majority of rural people in sub-Saharan Africa, including small-scale farmers and pastoralists, access land and natural resources based on customary practices, rules and institutions.  Many nations are working to harmonize statutory and customary approaches to land governance.

Land governance and law briefs

Mozambique's Innovative Land Law

South Africa Land Redistribution

South Africa Land Restitution

History of Land Conflicts in Kenya

Protecting Community Land in Mozambique

Burkina Faso's Ambitious Experiment in Participatory Land Reform

Challenges in Implementing Mozambique's Progressive Land Law

The Precarious Position of Tanzania's Village Land

Government Control of Private Land Use in Kenya

Africa: Responsible Investment in Land

Curbs on Land Use Rights in Rwanda: The 'Bundle of Rights' in Context

Land and Gender-Based Violence: Experiences from Rwanda and Liberia

A Brief History of Land in Zimbabwe:1890-Today