Author: Heath, John R.
Publication date: December 1993
How secure are the rights to rural land in Cote d'Ivoire and what are the implications of tenure security for land use management? This is the central question posed by this study which draws on the results of a rapid survey of 250 household heads and findings in the rich anthropological literature. The study concludes that traditional village authorities continue to influence how land is allocated among households and that there are few instances of private land rights. In particular, land cannot usually be transferred from one generation to the next without the consent of customary authorities. However, the power of these authorities varies significantly between regions. This is important because it affects the terms on which land is conferred on "outsiders," who are very numerous in Cote d'Ivoire. Disputes over transfer and boundary rights were less acute than the "Nexus" study hypothesized. Outsiders have weaker transfer rights than indigenous farmers but, in other respects, enjoy a similar level of land tenure security. This suggests that the existing regime offers a relatively flexible means for resolving intra-community disputes, one with positive effects from both an equity and an efficiency standpoint but, in certain areas, the state has undermined the traditional regime by seizing land. Policy and project interventions should reinforce the capacity of village communities to manage their resource base, by providing them with legal protection from external incusions and - where there is a real demand for it - by helping villagers to develop a monitorable data base on land rights and land use.
Publisher: World Bank