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Benin: From adaptation back to replacement?

Land policies focussing on mass privatisation and formalisation of land rights were harshly criticised in the 1980s and 1990s, leading to the promotion of a ‘paradigm of adaptation’ and to the development of incremental procedures to encourage the evolution and adaptation of local land rights. But they seem to have found favour again in the 2000s, even if few of their pitfalls have concretely being overcome.

Benin is an interesting case as it recently passed a ‘replacement’ Land Code, which does not break entirely new ground, but comes close on the heels of another reform targeting rural areas, which followed the logic of adaptation. It thus allows us to discuss the assumptions and conditions for success of both options.

Regardless of the debate about the underlying policy options (cost of privatisation, conditions for land titling leading to farm investments), replacements strategies need an institutional framework able to record and manage every plot over the country. The Benin Land Code states that after 5 years, every land sale has to be concluded with notaries and registered at a new land administration agency. If the institutional framework is not ready at that time, far from resolving land tenure insecurity and conflicts, the Code risks to ‘modernise insecurity”.

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Mise en ligne : 27 octobre 2014 | Mise à jour : 27 octobre 2014 | Auteur : Philippe Lavigne Delville