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The Strategy of Land Policy Formulation

The task here is to make use of approaches that have been developed within each of these three analytical dimensions, to take the fullest advantages of modern exploratory and scientific facilities available for data collection and mapping, and to appreciate fully the need to take an overview in the national interest, rather than to allow policymaking to be based on the narrowest interests of small groups or individuals. Having done this, we must bring the results of the three investigations together into one integrated whole, being mindful of the magnitude of the task and remembering that such a strategy is possible only because of the development of new lines of enquiry, of new resource evaluation techniques and other instruments and media.

Remembering also that in African countries actual field data and experience are seldom as coordinated or complete as this statement of theoretical intent, the strategy of policy formulation may be summarized in the following manner.

(a) First, in a data-collection and recording exercise, a standard land use classification should be employed to provide the physical basis for planning and policy-making purposes (as is now available in the Gambia). This supplies basic information on the nature of surface resources and, in the case of occupied land, on the manner in which these resources are already controlled and utilized. The eventual aim is the compilation of an authoritative, reliable, and complete inventory of land resources, without which one cannot ensure comprehensive coverage in respect of policymaking. As compiled in Uganda in the 1960s, such an inventory brings length, breadth, and reality to an otherwise unquantifiable problem.

As it becomes available, further data must be added on such aspects as climate, topography, aspect, soils, and ground water, and also on infrastructure and settlement. The purpose of this is twofold:

  1. to help identify negative environmental trends through such evidence as the deterioration or destruction of natural vegetation cover, the incidence of sheet or gully erosion, the silting of reservoirs, the disruption of river regimes, and the instability of river channels. In this process, the closest attention should be paid to semi-arid areas, where most of the risks are maximized. The long-term purpose here is the incorporation of conservation measures into the framework of land policy-making in order to ensure continuous, automatic, and effective effort in countering these trends;
  2. to provide a goal or objective for resource management by compiling a map of land potential or capability, largely from climatic and soil data, which will show not the actual or current land use, but the "highest and best use" for each land parcel under prevailing physical, technical, and marketing conditions. This process will require the refinement of the original land-use classification, the collection of micro-data on the local potential for higher value crops (Kenya) and other more intensive forms of land use, and the capacity to review each potential or capability as the parameters change. Thereafter, the systematic objective of land policy and planning must embrace inter alia the realization or achievement in detail of this potential or capability.

(b) Second, the spatial distribution of relevant cultural phenomena, particularly of population and settlement (as is now being done in Kenya) should be reviewed, in relation to the distribution of resources revealed by the land classification and capability surveys. This second instrument of analysis has multiple linkages with the first. Its usefulness is only now being fully explored in its extension to urbanfocused and economically depressed regions and thence to other forms of region, both international and intranational. Spatial analysis can be employed at both the macro- and the microlevels: in the siting of counter-attractive growth poles, or satellite or dormitory towns; in investment planning to counteract regional disparities in income and wealth; in the zoning of land use within urban sectors; or in the consolidation of fragmented holdings and the remodelling and reciting of economic enterprises in rural renewal programmes (Kenya, Malawi). Its application in developing African countries promises special rewards, as it can transcend the dichotomies and dualisms so commonly found there and can help to establish better co-ordination through recognition of the structural interdependence between the mutually supporting rural and urban sectors.

(c) Third, the proprietary and tenurial structures obtaining should be examined, starting with the broad administrative or legal classification into public, state, trust, family, or privately owned land that has usually been inherited from the colonial period and continuing with the identification and evaluation of particularly significant tenurial incidents and variants (Uganda). The inherited administrative categorization will doubtlessly require considerable modification, but its initial use does serve to locate the different tenure structures, thus enabling them to be critically analysed in a systematic manner, ensuring complete coverage (Zambia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, and Uganda). These tenurial structures will be found to vary appreciably from region to region, and the economic, social, and political influences currently at work upon them must be expected to bring about very different results. The performance of each tenurial institution encountered must be evaluated, under customary or statute law as the case may be, against selected development criteria, with the two following main objectives in mind:

  1. the identification of factors or incidents carrying with them some diseconomy, social disincentive, disamenity, or other disadvantages within the structure itself. If the tenurial structure should offer opportunities for social exploitation or for the under- or over-utilization of resources, or if it should lack some component necessary for the modernization processes involved in the commercialization of agriculture or in planned urban growth (Nigeria), then such a fault will need to be rectified. Any such rectification is likely to be a controversial and politically delicate task, as it will affect the relative position of different power groups within society. This is, in fact, bringing the argument back to the main theme of tenure conversion, to which reference has been made above and about which further particulars will be given below;
  2. the establishment of further linkages by examination of the tenurial structure and proprietorship pattern against the background of the land-use classification introduced above, in order to locate anomalies or incongruities. These include, for example, the continued allocation of use rights for subsistence cultivation in land suitable for high-value crops (Kenya), or the fractionation by inheritance of interests in tree crops and buildings separately from the group itself (Uganda and Ghana), or the joint ownership of land by absentee clan members in pert-urban areas scheduled for urban expansion (Nigeria and Uganda). The form of tenure must be in harmony with the potential land use. At the least it must permit, and at best it should actively promote, the "highest and best use."

In these ways, the warp of specific environmental, spatial, and tenurial analyses and the weft of general economic, social, and political analyses may be woven together to form a matrix of information upon which land policy may be built.

This policy-making must satisfy the requirements of each of the analyses, and, in the process, a special emphasis should be given to interrelationships, so as to lock the separate analyses together, and also to the breadth of the national overview, since policy-making has suffered from segmented and sectoral thinking so frequently in the past. Spatial and structural planning must be married together and brought to bear upon the same biophysical environment.

There now follows a fuller explanation of each analysis.

The Natural Environment and National Perspective

The purpose of this section is to explore the significance of the new reasoning developed by environmentalists, and of the additional understanding that has stemmed from it. In this respect it is imperative that the reasoning should proceed "from the whole to the part," from the "macro" to the "micro" factors and not in the reverse direction.

The Global Perspective

At this macrolevel, the reasoning progresses from an appreciation of the Earth as a single unit, as a planetary continuum, and as one complex ecosystem, to a realization that policymakers and planners are dealing with natural macro-phenomena, such as climatic belts and drainage basins, which do not respect and are not controlled by international boundaries. Many environmental issues, therefore, have an international dimension which must transcend political boundaries and which demands international co-ordination, probably with the assistance of international organizations, such as the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).

Second, the policymakers must understand at least two significant environmental differences between the developing countries of Africa and the "developed" countries of Western Europe. The populations of the former are predominantly rural and are, therefore, more directly exposed to environmental vagaries and hazards than are the populations of the latter countries, which are largely urbanized and inhabit a sector over which man's environmental control is relatively complete. Moreover, whereas the environmental conditions, particularly those of climate, in Western Europe are moderate and temperate so that the stability of ecosystems is promoted, the ecosystems of large parts of tropical and subtropical Africa are rendered relatively unstable by extremes of temperature and rainfall, a condition which is currently being examined and increasingly known as "tropicality." It follows that, whereas the human implications of environmental studies may be merely aesthetic in Western Europe, in the arid and semi-arid regions of Africa, they are more likely to be central to the well-being and even survival of whole communities.

The National Perspective

Along with changing social values, whereby land is now less frequently seen in Africa as a basis for community security and solidarity and more frequently as a negotiable commodity and a source of private profit, has come the realization that national sovereignty carries with it a national responsibility or stewardship. From a recognition of land as the main form of national capital, there flows an obligation for the conservation and optimal utilization of such a resource. For this, the policymaking and planning must be performed at the national or subnational level, and the implementation at the level of the individual land user. Because of their traditional interpretation of land as a sacred trust, African peoples should have no difficulty in accepting the need for conservation and protection measures in the modern context.

At the national level, there should be an obligation to determine the nature, the incidence, and, more particularly, the causes of environmental degradation. The causes may be natural, such as fluctuations in climatic conditions, or they may be man-induced, probably by the destruction of the natural vegetation cover and its replacement by unstable agro-ecosystems, or they may represent some combination of these two main factors. Let it suffice to state here that the increasing weight of scientific and visual evidence indicates that the main cause lies in man's interruption of natural ecosystems rather than in some natural change taking place within them.

The Local Perspective

At this level, the main need is for an understanding of the lifesupport capabilities of resources, of environmental stress, marginality, and resistance; of natural or man-induced processes such as laterization, desertification, or sedimentation, and of environmentally appropriate technologies. The object will be to maximize the use of local resources, lower factor costs, minimize diseconomies and disamenities through pollution, and reduce foreign exchange needs. In the past, ''development" has frequently been based on a superficial understanding of a short-term solution, and, for this reason, could not be sustained.

The Formation of Theory

From their understanding of natural cycles, energy sources, rates of depletion of renewable and nonrenewable resources, and environmental durability and marginality, environmentalists are beginning to develop both a theory and a philosophy.

The "theory of the natural economy" maintains that production is predominantly a function of nature, and that the natural economy has its own forms of natural capital, natural income, natural consumption, and so on. This natural economy is ultimately global in extent, and superimposed upon it are the regionalized surrogate or substitute economies created by man. These surrogate economies may adapt, modify, or facilitate natural production, but they cannot replace it. Where the natural and surrogate economies are in harmony, the processes of natural production may be augmented by man and may be sustained indefinitely, but where the natural cycles are disrupted, man is likely to be consuming natural capital rather than augmenting natural income. Diseconomies which may be regarded as "external" to the surrogate economy cannot be external to the global natural economy and must, therefore, detract somewhere from natural capital or income.

From a study of the interaction of the natural and surrogate economies, the development planner has already learned many valuable lessons and evolved additional conceptual tools, such as environmentally appropriate technology, environmental impact assessment, environmental audit, and energy accounting.

Moreover, a "lobby" or ''front" in political ecology is now increasingly supporting a philosophy of balanced or "ecodevelopment" based on the concept of continuous and possibly expanding equilibrium. The practical consequences of this reasoning could be of special significance in the marginal and degrading environments of English-speaking (and other) African countries.

Spatial Planning: Regional and Urban

At both the regional and urban levels of application, spatial planning involves the systematic and comprehensive consideration of the fundamental organization of both natural and human resources. As such, it is best regarded as a social movement in which government is likely to play a leading role. The planners are presented with a challenging task. They have an essentially co-ordinating function, and their social and economic objectives must go far beyond the mere consideration of the physical form, arrangement, and location of infrastructure and other capital assets, and beyond the allocation of space and the distribution and location theories of earlier planners. Their considerations must embrace not only the "static" elements of fixed location, topographical conditions, and land use, but also the "dynamic" dimensions of transport and communication systems and of the interchange of people, goods, and ideas. Moreover, modern experience has established that it is not sufficient for a plan to have specific and finite objectives; it must also be kept under continuous review and revision so that it becomes a "forwardrolling" process, accompanied by the provision of information services and educational programmes to ensure public understanding and participation.

Regions may be classified as natural, having their own separate, objective existence, or as subjective conceptions of the planners, created for purposes of analyses, synthesis, and planning. Decisions upon what constitutes a region will depend upon a range of variable factors. Regions may be of the homogeneous or nodal types or they may be comprehensive or special-purpose. Illustrations of the homogeneous type include resource regions and river-basin regions (which may be international or intranational); special-purpose regions include depressed or disaster-prone areas; the comprehensive variety is exemplified by the political region, based upon homogeneity of administrative structure in the absence of any more dominant feature.

At the regional level, planners will aim at the realization of certain objectives which can be achieved by no other means. The better co-ordination of major development projects involving an international effort, such as in river-basin schemes, the lessening of interregional disparities, and the reduction or removal of intraregional dualisms, such as rural-urban disparities probably aggravated by an urban planning bias: all these are objectives peculiar to regional planning.

Urban planning objectives should likewise be broadly framed and may be summarized as the "guidance of growth and change." Its purpose will include the improvement of all aspects of urban environment; the reconciliation of public investment and private gain; the separation of incompatible land uses, the promotion of orderly arrangements to reduce recurrent costs; the development of optimal standards in housing and other private and public services; and the efficient conduct of local government. All this must be tempered by the realization that urban and rural problems are closely interrelated.

In the implementation of a human settlement plan at the national level, the regional planners may be called upon to relieve population pressures on the metropolitan area (e.g. Nairobi), or to design a framework of service centres together with a series of appropriate technologies, or to set up teams for the systematic revitalization of the rural economy, village by village (Kenya, Tanzania, and Malawi).

Of special relevance and importance in Englishspeaking African countries will be the range of environmental conservation measures that must be built into the regional planning exercise. The careful and co-ordinated development of both ground and surface resources must be central in any growth plan for the marginal environments of disaster-prone areas, such as the Sahel or Ethiopia.

Tenure Conversion: Some Policy Alternatives

As is also the case in land reform, any policymaking in tenure conversion is inevitably influenced, or even dominated, by the ongoing ideological debate between the two main rival systems of economic and sociopolitical organization. Moreover, at this stage, the debate will also tend to become additionally controversial, since the reasoning is founded more on social values, attitude, and relationships than upon more readily quantifiable physical processes or properties.

The main issues in tenure conversion must be faced in whatever precise form or context they arise, but the principal ideological debate may be seen to lie generally between the following opposing viewpoints:

  1. the liberal policies of "mixed" economies which will involve institutional framework planning and decentralized powers of decision-making. The socalled "gradualist" model allows for constant and continuous change. It accepts the principle of private property but regulates the proprietary structure in the interests of social justice, operates through both public and private enterprise, and seeks to establish a form of socialism through policies of non-violence and moderation acceptable to a social democracy;
  2. the authoritarian or radical policies of the "command" economy involving "allocative" or comprehensive central planning and the radical reorganization of both economy and society. Under this radical model, power will be exercised largely from the centre, enterprise will be confined largely or exclusively to the public sector, private property will be completely or partially renounced, and the channels of decision-making will be dominated by the authoritarian bureaucracy which constitutes a usual feature of revolutionary socialism.

Although the presentation may be over-simplified at this stage, it should nevertheless be evident that some degree of state intervention through planning is inevitable in these English-speaking African countries reviewed here. As had been observed earlier, it is not the principle of planning intervention that is in dispute, but rather its degree or extent.

This being so, it is submitted that the following policy alternatives are available to planners for use in the process of tenure conversion:

(a) A policy of technical and organizational improvement in agriculture but non-intervention in tenure matters. This socalled "productionist" approach aims at increasing agricultural production and at a degree of commercialization and the improvement of agricultural services through cooperatives (as in Uganda). It may be illustrated generally by the "green revolution" and more specifically by certain nucleus plantations or "out-growers" schemes. But such a policy is likely to lead to increasing confusion in the tenurial structures, and litigation reflecting the inherent conflict between traditional and progressive views and their profound differences in values and attitudes (Ghana). Where individualism eventually comes to predominate, it is likely to be characterized by some or all of the abuses found under the private enterprise system, such as greater inequality and waste arising from the acquisition by persons of influence of more land that they can effectively develop (e.g. in Liberia). Where the cognatic systems manage to survive, they will be liable to deteriorate through lack of capital and incentive, through increasing insecurity of tenure, through indifferent technology and management, and through subdivision and fragmentation. The resulting structure would probably be one of occasional large private estates or plantations, together with vast numbers of heavily fragmented subsistence holdings (Zimbabwe and South Africa).

(b) A positive move towards regulated individualism. This has been variously labelled the gradualist, reformist, or "distributionist" approach. The policy here is to promote a small or family-farm structure, while at the same time inhibiting the excesses and abuses to which unbridled individualism has led elsewhere. This policy would entail the guarded encouragement of personal incentives, managerial freedom, and responsibility, a higher degree of monetization and commercialization, and long-term land improvement schemes with a view to increasing productivity and capital accumulation (Malawi) as well as limited private ownership of the means of production, and the application of such controls on land holding and land dealing as are found acceptable in a democratic society and a mixed economy (Kenya). Governmental effort would be required in the improvement of supporting services, to encourage popular participation in community affairs, and also for the planned provision of alternative employment opportunities off the land. Clearly this policy will demand a considerable input in planning and land administration. Existing customary law must be either assimilated with "received" legal concepts through a process of adjudication and codification (as in Kenya), or alternatively circumvented through the erection of some form of statutory trust board between the owning group and the individual developer (as in Botswana). In either case, the ownership of land must be made more definite and explicit and both ownership and use subjected to planning control (Kenya). The medium-term result of this policy will be the establishment of a family-farm structure supplemented by a range of co-operative services.

(c) A positive move towards some fore, of collectivism. The objective of this policy is to retain group inspiration and control, while at the same time creating an institutional environment more conducive to economic growth through modernized farming. The emphasis is on the retention of group or social incentives rather than on the fostering of individual motivation. The success of this policy will depend largely upon whether or not traditional cognatic groupings can be transformed directly or indirectly into modern collectivized units. The theoretical argument is that the right spirit is already implanted; the communal seed of socialism has been preserved in the village community and the bonds of community solidarity should not be destroyed, but kept alive and generally rationalized into modern group or collective forms (sore 1971). Most probably this policy would form part of the much wider socialization of the mode of production, and the resultant agrarian structure would consist of a relatively small number of large production units with the central or local authority displacing the kinship group in controlling the enterprise. This more radical or "collectivist" approach is at present best exemplified in English-speaking African countries by the ujamea collective villages of Tanzania, although many other experimental state or collective farms have been established in Ghana, Nigeria, Somalia, Zambia, and Uganda, for example.

(d) Some combination of (b) and (c). This would be based on the argument that the benefits of reformed capitalism and the social discipline of collectivism can be harmonized within a mixed economy. In this case, the combination may be either "horizontal" or "vertical"; thus, the two subsectors may operate side by side in the same country, or a policy of "vertical" combination could be promoted by the nationalization of the absolute interest in land and the grant of only derivative interests to individuals or to collective groupings. Decision-making in this field will inevitably carry with it the widest implications, not only in respect of the rural but also of the urban sector. Such land policy decisions will effect, to a large extent, the retention initially of a relatively large proportion of the total population in the rural sector, the planned restructuring of the labour force as between rural and urban sectors, the commercialization of agriculture with the production and extraction of an economic surplus, the planned utilization and conservation of natural resources, and the form, structure, and characteristic spirit of rural society. The main ideological choice may well be seen to lie between the gradualist and the radical schools of thought, but in the more acutely marginal conditions so frequently encountered in Africa, arguments of ideological preference may easily be outweighed by the more elemental need for survival.

Institutional Planning in Tenure Conversion

It is submitted that each country (or constituent region) must decide, on the basis of economic, social, political, and environmental criteria, upon the direction in which it wishes to progress in respect of tenure conversion. High-level policy decisions must then be followed by an inquiry into the dynamics of tenure conversion, whereby policy decisions may be implemented. In every case, implementation should be preceded by an information and education programme, to ensure the understanding and willing participation of rural, and frequently unsophisticated, people.

Gradualist policies are relatively varied, flexible, and decentralizing in operation: they offer a range of choices as circumstances require, but they do need to be backed up by the provision of a supporting services structure. In Asian countries, the most important instrument of gradualism is usually redistributive land reform, designed to correct polarization in access to resources. In Africa, the application of this particular instrument will be exceptional rather than general; nevertheless, Nigeria has already found it necessary to legislate on maximum holdings, both in rural and urban areas.

The strengthening of the title and data bases is frequently recognized as a prime necessity in gradualist reform, both in the rural and the urban sectors. This may be effected over time by the authoritative adjudication of interests in land, by the recording of these interests under a system of registration of title (as in Kenya and Uganda), rather than registration of deeds, by the establishment of a land data bank for the collection, storage, and retrieval of data, and by the erection, of a system of land control whereby the marketing of land may be regulated.

But it is increasingly likely that this whole operation will in future be incorporated within more comprehensive programmes of rural or urban "renewal." In its rural form, a renewal programme can now amount to the dismantling, replanning, and remodelling of the local economy, with particular reference to the proprietary structure. It may contain several additional policy components adapted to circumstances: the reconstruction of holdings by the consolidation of scattered fragments; the restitution of land to groups previously deprived of their interests; the rehabilitation of degraded crop land; the reduction of plural ownership and possibly of co-ownership; the authoritative settlement of disputes; resource evaluation, settler selection and the planned colonization of new areas; and the supplementation of small-scale enterprise by the provision of co-operative services.

In respect of tenancy, there is a potential, rather than a present, need for regulative legislation. Unknown under the traditional cognatic system, tenancy is now appearing in a variety of entrepreneurial forms, as the individualization of property rights continues to spread. With the establishment of a family-farm structure, it may be possible to exclude tenancy from agriculture altogether, on the grounds that exploitative situations might arise and that legislation to regulate tenancy would be very difficult to apply. On the other hand, tenancy is likely to be both inescapable and desirable in pert-urban areas, for it may be constructively employed in upgrading "squatter" settlements by increasing security and commitment through a series of tenurial steps.

The alternative radical or revolutionary socialist policies are relatively more rigid, "monolithic," or uncompromising in style, and usually consist of the nationalization, localization, or municipalization of "allodial" interests in land, accompanied by a greater or lesser degree of collectivization of both rural and urban purposes. The authoritative control of housing through a system of allocation is already in operation in some African countries (Tanzania and Mozambique), and diverse experiments in group and state farming have also been carried out, although these have encountered difficulties due to lack of qualified management, over-investment by the state, and high production and administrative costs. There is, however, ample evidence from East European countries, particularly Yugoslavia and Poland, of a partial retreat from the ideological imperative of collectivism through the adoption of a family-farm structure, provided this gives no opportunity for the exploitation of labour. Although the credit and marketing structures would remain wholly or partially socialized, this redirection of policy could help bridge the gap between the two rival economic systems and could prove to be a fertile area for further experimentation in Englishspeaking African countries.

In any event, it is essential that doctrinaire institutional transfer should be avoided; that the range of options available should be seen as forming a continuum between the extremes of right and left; that imported models should be modified and adapted to fit national and regional requirements, and that each structure should be specifically designed to suit particular circumstances. The principle of non-alignment with either the East or the West should help to ensure careful scrutiny and independence in decision-making.

Land Policy: A Contribution to Development

It has been argued elsewhere that the characteristic condition of developing countries may be analysed as a compound of many constituents: of overdependence on foreign markets for primary commodities; of economic dualism exacerbated by the polarization of resource access; of neglected domestic agriculture and the destruction of incipient industries; and of environmental degradation and social differentiation, alienation, and the erosion of selfrespect caused variously by land-lessness, the drudgery of subsistence cultivation, or the squalor of pert-urban settlement.

It is also worthy of repetition that the majority of the underdeveloped countries have land-based economies, and several of the English-speaking African countries suffer from relatively meagre resource endowment.

In consequence, it may be confidently argued that where land comprises 80 per cent or more of a nation's wealth or capital stock, its planned evaluation, distribution, conservation, and management must surely demand recognition as a most important area in development planning. All the more so when account is taken of the accompanying equity, employment, production, and investment relationships, and when it is realized that alternative opportunities for growth and diversification may be very limited. Moreover, in poorly endowed or marginal areas the time available for planning is foreshortened and the biophysical processes of resource degradation will not await the outcomes of prolonged academic discussion or ideological debate.

This is not merely a peripheral or superficial study, but rather one that can permeate and influence very many aspects and levels of national life. On the whole, land policies aim not at short-term technological fixes, but rather at longer-term stability and sustainable progress, and they look for the steady accumulation of increments, rather than for sudden spectacular gains or dramatic improvements. Again, these policies are deeply concerned with internal institutions and social infrastructure; they view development from the "inside" and consequently depend more on indigenous effort and respond to indigenous capabilities.

No one may claim to have the immediate solution for all the problems involved, but we do now have a more sound conceptual framework upon which to hang our enquiries, theories, and policies.

Land Policy Implementation

The Fundamental Understanding

First, there must be the ability to think broadly and to analyse phenomena "from the whole to the part," to take the global perspective and then to focus down in stages of increasing particularity to the subregional level. Much of the knowledge available at the global level is at present incomplete or untested; but it is already clear that many environmental problems demand international cooperation, and United Nations agencies are now available to assist in the search for solutions.

Second, there must be recognition that any nation's share of the resources of the natural environment belongs ultimately to the whole of the nation and must be devoted to the overall national welfare. This imposes an obligation on the state to erect an institutional structure by virtue of which such resources may be broadly administered and developed in order that they may be utilized on a sustainable basis, yet without depriving the smaller social group or the individual of that sense of participation, possession, and security which they need.

Third, because land provides the plane of contact between a nation and its environmental resources, institutional structures should be framed in terms of land policy and land-use planning. This requires an understanding of the role of land in political economy, as both a biophysical and a social factor, and an appreciation of national ambitions, ideologies, and ideas in respect of land.

Fourth, land policy and planning should be rooted in the scientific knowledge of biophysical qualities and processes and in an analysis of the processes of economic production and the requirements of sociopolitical change. They should be supported by reliable quantitative data, have a positive developmental orientation, and be comprehensive and closely coordinated, yet sufficiently flexible to permit and promote the operation of state, corporate, and private sectors in a mixed economy.

Fifth, and more specifically, there must be a realization at the highest level of the significance of environmental marginality and stress in the arid and semi-arid zones, and of the constructive role that regional planning can play in reducing the dualisms, disparities, and alienation currently retarding development.

The Policy-making and Implementation Structure

Under the socio-political circumstances presently prevailing in English-speaking African countries, only the governmental machine (possibly supported and monitored by independent comissions) is in a position to formulate and implement policy in the areas outlined above. Consequent, therefore, upon recognition and acceptance of this obligation, the state must establish structures for both olicy-making and policy implementation with their precise form depending upon circumstances and particularly upon the system of government in operation. In the more likely case of moderate or social democratic policies and structures being adopted, this will demand the exercise of considerable political will. There must be representation at the highest political level, usually in the Cabinet, and there must be interministry coordination on major policy decisions, for example, on the relative weight of the public and private sectors.

Legislative authority must next be sought for the planning powers, institutions, and services thought to be necessary. Some such institutions may already exist, but further political determination will be necessary in adapting theory to actual requirements at the national level. Diplomacy and ingenuity will be called for in reconciling conflicting views and opinions, the needs of continuity and of change, or the interests of the individual and of the community.

The main instrument for policy implementation will be a major ministry, possibly a ministry of the environment containing and co-ordinating several lesser ministries. The powers and duties of this ministry will include guidance of and liaison with parastatal bodies established for specific purposes, but independent in terms of their staffing and financial responsibilities, such as mining corporations, urban development corporations, or river basin development authorities. This "parent" ministry will be activated by Cabinet directives and guided by the legislature, which will also supervise the necessary liaison with professions and associations in the private sector, not only to help ensure professional standards of conduct, but also to co-ordinate, so far as practicable, the efforts of the private and public sectors in any particular sphere.

The overall shape of the official structure will depend upon the degree of decentralization. Decision-making will be interministerial at the policy-making level, intraministerial at the planning level, and departmental (with important linkages to local government) at the implementation level. Its capacity at the planning level must be sufficient for the analysis and evaluation of existing and acquired data, for synthesizing planning solutions and for constant adaption to changing needs. At the implementation level, its capacity must be sufficient to ensure adequate and comprehensive coverage in providing departmental services within the three main areas of enquiry and administration already outlined above, namely the environmental, spatial, and tenurial. Determination must again be exercised in ensuring that resources at all levels are commensurate with responsibilities. The necessary understanding and various special skills must be made available through staff training programmes, and advantage must be taken of modern technologies, especially the land inventory or land data bank.

It is appreciated that in some English-speaking African countries the base and some components of this structure have already been established, but, in general, an immense task remains to be tackled before a wide range of necessary services can be provided in a co-ordinated and comprehensive fashion.

Policy Evaluation

With the implementation structure the machinery should also be available whereby land policy directions and objectives may continuously be evaluated and reviewed at both national and regional levels. If it is accepted that land policy formulation and implementation can make a broad contribution to development, then data must be collected for assessment on an equally broad range of development objectives and criteria. These should include:

  1. the promotion of national self-sufficiency in staple foods. Land policy can be critical here in the provision of opportunity and in improvement of the incentive structure through tenure conversion and rural renewal schemes, probably supplemented by colonization. The removal of a planning bias against domestic agriculture will do much to break down the "enclave" mentality and the dualism which usually accompanies it;
  2. the encouragement, in a number of ways, of urbanization and industrialization. There may be opportunities for the transfer of private capital out of land ownership and into industrial enterprise. Foreign exchange earnings (and hence the purchase of capital goods for industry) may be promoted by planning measures such as irrigation. Again, a range of land policies can also contribute to the improvement of rural purchasing power and to the production of a surplus in food and fibre for urban consumption, without which the urban industrial sector cannot develop. As a corollary, it is arguable that land rights must be made more readily negotiable in order that land may be smoothly transferred from rural to urban uses;
  3. the reduction or removal of inter- and intrasectoral dualisms and social differentials stemming from disparities and incongruities in resource access. As mentioned above, any rural planning or replanning programme must also include measures designed to assist in the emancipation of rural women from the drudgery imposed by domestic needs. Access to basic necessities must be given priority at the level of village planning;
  4. the furtherance of ethnic and social integration at the national level. This is likely to be a principal objective in tenure conversion, as the traditional systems favoured solidarity at the family and clan levels only. Integration may also be promoted through the removal of racial segregation by repeal of the offending legislation and the elimination of barriers to land negotiability and settlement. Likewise, intertribal differences may be lessened by the removal of tenurial distinctions and by adjustments made to resource allocation through regional planning. At the village level, the causes of intracommunity friction and the main source of both petty and serious crime and of wasteful litigation may be obviated by authoritative adjudication followed by some form of registration, and recurrence may be offset by land control measures;
  5. the dissemination of environmental concern and understanding through the incorporation of environmental protection and resource conservation principles in all development projects, public or private, rural or urban, large or small;
  6. the raising of the social status of rural people and of their standard of living by channelling a larger proportion of the planning effort into the rural sector; by a better understanding of their motivation and aspirations, and by encouraging their greater participation; by introducing improved and environmentally appropriate technologies; and by granting them a greater degree of equity and security.

By evaluating those land policies which have been applied against such a range of independent criteria, both periodically and impartially, it should be possible to test the claim that land policy-making can play a very significant role in the overall process of national development.

Research, Education, and Training Needs

In respect of research, there are many differences in the present position, as between one country and another. In some regions, a considerable body of knowledge has already been amassed, such that the present need is for evaluation and for its dissemination in assimilable form. The actual processes of biophysical degradation are now generally understood, but the application of this knowledge remains patchy and uncoordinated, and research has yet to be extended in any volume to marginal environments other than the arid and the semi-arid. Tenurial structures are frequently understood; a range of distributions may lie unexplored and the relationships between tiers of government and rural people may remain illconsidered and hazardous. New research institutions are now being established and investigations carried out at a depth never before attempted, but staffing remains a problem in the adoption of newly invented administrative and survey techniques, and more especially in the elucidation of the socially sensitive relationships involved in tenure analysis and conversion.

In terms of higher education, a major effort is still required to adapt both academic and professional studies to social and environmental conditions in Africa. This effort must be sustained at the highest level and upon a broad front, including the political. In combination with the research effort mentioned above, new faculties or departments are being established in African universities, but problems of staffing apply there also. Moreover, it is evident that no single academic discipline imported from Western Europe will suffice for this purpose; instead, a new area of study must be synthesized from several disciplines in the physical and social sciences, and the processes of adaption and synthesis must inevitably take some time.

Meanwhile, immediate priority must be given to widening the horizons of senior policy-making executives of the relevant central ministries and local governments, many of whom have only recently been appointed. Whilst the official levels are being adequately staffed, attention must also be paid to "training the trainers." The role of academic staff in African universities will be to perfect the synthesizing and adaption of knowledge to local requirements and to train the minds of future policymakers in central ministries and those destined for managerial positions in local government, professional associations, or the private sector.

The establishment of graduate teaching in the fields of land tenure, policy, and management should eventually result in the desired localization of the teaching and research input, and this should be supported by undergraduate courses and the teaching of a range of auxiliary technologies at subprofessional and submanagerial levels in technical colleges and ad hoc institutions.


1. A timely reminder kindly provided by Dr. D. Christodoulou, formerly of FAO.

2. Registration of title is a system of conveyancing and of authoritative record whereas registration of deeds is a system of record only, being an appendage to conveyancing by private deed.

3. Landed property held in absolute ownership by an individual or group.


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Dore, R.F. 1971. "Modern Cooperatives in Traditional Communities." In P. Worsley, ea., Two Blades of Grass. Manchester University Press, Manchester.

Dorner, P. 1972. Land Reform and Economic Development. Penguin, Harmondsworth, Middlesex.

FAO and ILO. 1970. Progress in Land Reform. Fifth Report. United Nations, New York.

Johnson, C.E.G. 1972. "Economic Analysis, the Legal Framework and Land Tenure Systems." Journal of Law and Economics, 15(1) : 259-276.

Meek, C.K. 1957. Land Tenure and Land Administration in Nigeria and the Cameroons. HMSO, London.

Parsons, K.H. 1970. "The Land Tenure Problem in Nigeria." AID Spring Review of Lend Reform, 9.

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