Some outstanding issues in the debate on external promotion of land privatisation | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
January 2005
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Since the early 1990s, the dominant consensus in the debate on land rights reform in sub-Saharan Africa has been that external interventions to privatise land rights are usually inappropriate and likely to remain so. This article suggests that two elements in the debate - the scope for varying adjudication criteria, procedures and support systems in order to enhance equity, and the influence of a region's agro-ecological and socioeconomic characteristics on the impacts of tenure change – merit further attention.Drawing on illustrative evidence from eastern Kenya, the article urges a shift towards a more pragmatic approach, sensitive to the diversity of both physical and socio-economic conditions within which tenure systems operate. The results suggest, among others, that in countries with a diversity of land-use systems and agronomic potential, uniform impacts from privatisation across regions are unlikely. As a result, whether and in what form privatisation is appropriate is likely to vary. National land policies should ideally contain sufficient flexibility to allow for variation in the form and timing of privatisation across regions. The examples of both unpredicted outcomes of privatisation and outcomes which have not been based on the assumed underlying causal relationships, each indicate a need for further region-specific research. [adapted from author]

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

D. Hunt

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