January 31, 2014

Mapping Resource Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa

Secure land tenure and resource rights is often cited as an important foundation for long-term sustainable land management, and can provide the incentive needed to maintain multiple ecosystem and livelihood benefits on the land. In order to get a better sense of where the challenges are and what their nature is, the World Resources Institute (WRI) produced an interactive map of Land and Resource Rights in Africa. A new guide, produced jointly by FERN, FPP, ClientEarth, and CED, provides additional resources to build on, helping to identify and create opportunities for needed law reform in several African countries. The following is an excerpt from a post originally found on the WRI blog on 14 January 2014. 

Many countries in Africa are rich with trees, wildlife, minerals, and other natural resources. But as new WRI research and an interactive map show, few national laws provide communities with strong, secure rights to the resources on their land.

WRI conducted a systematic review of the national framework laws for five natural resources—water, trees, wildlife, minerals, and petroleum—in 49 sub-Saharan African countries. The results are presented in our new Rights to Resources map, an online tool that provides a visual overview of resource rights in Africa and allows users to compare findings across countries and resources.

Our results confirm what some researchers and development professionals have long suspected: Across sub-Saharan Africa, rights to many high-value natural resources are held by the state. Even where smallholder farmers or communities hold legal rights to the land they live on, the government owns or has rights to use many of the resources found on or underneath the soil. Smallholder farmers and communities must obtain a government permit and often pay a fee to use these resources. Weak resource rights can deprive communities of vital materials for their subsistence and livelihoods, lead to negative environmental consequences, and impede efforts toward sustainable development.

Read More:

New Map Documents Natural Resource Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa – Peter Veit and Celine Salcedo-La Vina, WRI Blog

Securing community land and resource rights in Africa: A guide to legal reform and best practices – FERN, the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), ClientEarth, and the Centre for Environment and Development (CED)

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