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Securing Land Rights in Mali: local solutions to thorny national problems

By: Alfousseyni Diawara, Bougouna Sogoba, Moussa Djire

This brief prepared by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) addresses the successes and lessons learned from the implementation of two land-tenure initiatives in three communes in the Sikasso region of southern Mali. Through inclusive and participatory discussion, consultation, and consensus-building at the village level, IIED and local partners facilitated village conventions where community members drew up local guidelines and rules for land transactions. Intra-village and municipal gatherings harmonized conventions and further clarified land management rules with local authorities. In the rural commune of Kifosso, IIED collaborated with local authorities and government surveying teams to run local consultations, organize mapping and validation sessions with a wide range of community members, and finally issue certificates of occupancy to clans and families. Ultimately, the inclusive, participatory, and locally based nature of the two initiatives proved as important as the results. Collective discussion and agreement on guidelines empowered communities and increased land-tenure security for landholders in an environment where national legislation is ambiguous and where customary holdings are increasingly vulnerable to competition for land.

Keywords: Land tenure security, local consultation, land documentation and registration, certificates of customary occupancy.