Disputes over land are a prominent feature of many situations of protracted violent conflict in Burundi, Uganda and South Sudan. Research conducted as part of the programme ‘Grounding Land Governance’ underscores that war reshuffles access and ownership, but also critically changes the ways in which land is governed. Land issues often come to resonate with other conflicts in society, thereby affecting overall stability. This makes interventions in land governance politically sensitive. While intended to improve land governance practices, reforms often result in unintended and unpredictable outcomes, and have significant impacts for the legitimacy of the state. We therefore conclude that land governance in post-conflict settings deserves particular attention from academics and policymakers.
The second part of this infosheet discusses decentralization, which is a prominent feature of reform programmes throughout the region. Our studies found that transferring responsibilities for land administration and dispute resolution to local government and non-state institutions may indeed enhance the protection of local properties and reduce land-related conflicts. Likewise, it may fuel existing power struggles, or effectively enhance the power of the state. Policymakers should therefore not have too high expectations about the ability of decentralization to enhance local tenure security.
Auteurs et éditeurs
The African Studies Centre Leiden is a knowledge institute that undertakes research and is involved in teaching about Africa and aims to promote a better understanding of and insight into historical, current and future developments in Africa.
The institute is located in the Pieter de la Court Building of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Leiden.
Leiden University was founded in 1575 and is one of Europe’s leading international research universities. It has seven faculties in the arts, sciences and social sciences, spread over locations in Leiden and The Hague. The University has over 5,500 staff members and 25,800 students. The motto of the University is 'Praesidium Libertatis' – Bastion of Freedom.