Question 3: Land Access

How do different kinds of households and wider kin groups incorporate terms of land access into their short and long term livelihood strategies, and what are the implications of this for land policy?


  • Mohamadou Sall Population Studies, The Cheikh Anta Diop University, Dakar (Senegal) – In relation to land access and control, it is very important to pay attention to different (and possibly antagonist?) forces about land within the household. Especially In a context of land scarcity, and with the emergence of a land market, men (often the household heads) who traditionally controlled land, are less likely to favour sharing their power over land. Meanwhile, women who are supported by NGOs, do their utmost to access and to control land as they progressively move out of the private into more public spaces.’


  • Christine Okali – I agree that in the context of land scarcity and the growth of land markets, negotiations around land will change. However, I would question the understanding that men will not give up their customary expectations of land control (such as this exists) in this changed context. Of course there remains the question of inheritance. Even customary rights (at least in some social contexts) include compensation or claims to those who have assisted on farms/ fields/ animals by providing labour and/or other inputs. As to the role of NGOs and the response of women to their (the NGO) objectives of ensuring rights for women, in the case of livestock programmes, these NGO initiatives have been contested in various ways by men with interests in the outcomes of the production. In addition, some livestock programmes have shifted from attempting to enforce the creation of individual rights for women, to acknowledging the need of women (and men) to work together in their enterprise. Should we be contesting the notion of joint rights in these important assets?


  • Mamadou Sall – From the technocratic and political view, the pathway for improving the contribution of agriculture to development is to move agriculture from traditional rules to modern rules (including land). However, this political and technocratic shift will come up against local reality: Land, for example, is controlled by local and traditional power holders who are also the political middlemen and stakeholders. In this context, what is the sense of land reform and other policies like “Parity in elective mandates/positions?”


  • Mohamadou Sall – In Senegal, studies conducted on the relations between gender and access to land have shown that one the main hindrances of access to land for women is their absence from some important institutions such as rural councils and other local agencies and structures.


  • A.N. ChibuduFormer National Dairy Development Project (NDDP), Kenya – My practical experience is more on the Zero Grazing Systems of livestock production and my comments relate to issues that are important in this system. These issues have implications for both men and women as livestock producers, Livestock Policy that takes gender issues into consideration should make sure that these concerns are taken into account. In the 90s the gender approach was Women in Livestock Development (WiLD) which I don’t think has changed much to date. The relevant issues for Zero-Grazing Systems are:-
    • Investment – the financial outlay required for this system is very high taking into account the socio-economic situation of smallholder farmers, and especially women farmers. This investment must be undertaken on land which the farmer is confident of his or her ownership rights! The policy environment surrounding this issue is very complicated as several factors come into play once you start talking about land; issues of security of tenure, and inheritance issues which are intertwined with household (family) stability.
    • Labour – zero grazing is a high input high output system, and labour especially is a key input. Many small scale producers in Africa are women who have multiple roles in life and this system of production denies them the time to attend to these other very important facets of their life. It is therefore important that the output is actually high, and translates into cash incomes that can be utilised to take care of the other roles of the women.
    • Technology – any life system instituted must be progressive and dynamic. For any meaningful success, farmers must be given continuous knowledge for them to deal with the ever-increasing challenges. There are several ways of giving this knowledge but the most popular ones are through residential training, tours and workshops which in many instances are biased against women as women can not be away from home for long periods.