A Farmer in Africa: Overlapping Property Rights

A Farmer in Africa: Overlapping Property Rights

WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE ♪ (African drumming) ♪ Meet Minka and his wife Mansa. They are farmers in rural Africa,
where they spend long hours in the field to grow food for their family. Their small plot of land has been
in Minka’s family for generations. It was given to his great-great-grandfather
by the local chief and has been passed down to him. Though not required by law, Minka saved enough money
to have the land surveyed in order to receive a Certificate
of Customary Ownership. This certificate gives him
the surface rights to his land, but not the rights to many natural resources
such as minerals and oil. One day, mining company officials
arrive and tell Minka that the government granted them the rights to the minerals under his land. Beginning in two weeks, the company
will legally occupy and use Minka and Mansa’s farmland
as necessary to extract minerals. Minka and Mansa can continue to plant, but only if it does not interfere
with mining operations. If they do, they will be fined
or even imprisoned. They are in a bind. They can’t continue to use
all of their land to grow food, but they don’t qualify to be resettled because the land is still theirs. Minka and Mansa are not alone. Thousands of families face
the same hardship due to their limited land rights. In much of Africa, minerals,
oil, timber trees, wildlife, and other available natural resources
are the property of the government, which chooses when
and where these resources are used, regardless of land ownership. When landholders are not included in decisions that affect
their land and livelihood, it often leads to poverty, civil unrest,
and even violent conflict. If landholders held the rights to the natural resources on and below their land, they would be in a better position
to negotiate with mining companies over the use of their land. WRI works with governments,
civil society, businesses, and others to secure land and natural resource rights for citizens like Minka and Mansa. To learn more about our work
on property rights, visit us at wri.org/property-rights.

3 thoughts on “A Farmer in Africa: Overlapping Property Rights

  1. In much of Africa, land and natural resources are governed by separate laws under different property rights systems. As a consequence, one entity may legally hold the rights to the surface land while another holds the rights to the natural resources under the same land. This second installment in WRI's A Farmer in Africa series explores what happens when different stakeholders pursue conflicting activities on the same plot of land. Find out more at http://www.wri.org/blog/overlapping-land-and-natural-resource-rights-creates-conflict-africa.
    For more information on WRI's property rights work, please visit http://www.wri.org/property-rights

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