Land Reform And Certification in Madagascar : Does Perception of Tenure Security Matter and Change
The Malagasy land reform, ongoing since 2005, belongs to the new generation of land reforms. It promotes the legal recognition of existing landholders’ rights (through certification) and the decentralization of land management. Despite the change of paradigm underlying this new wave of reforms, premises and expectations remain unchanged: a) rights legalization is justified by large tenure insecurity and b) rights formalization is a prerequisite to reduce conflicts over land rights, improve access to credit, boost productive investments and stimulate land markets. But before analyzing economic impacts, the relations between land reform and tenure security need to be explored. In this line, the paper first explores the determinant of the sense of tenure insecurity and underlines the complementary role of certification to informal and existing modes of rights validation (petits papiers). It shows then that decentralization of land management (through the creation of local land offices) offers a better and a more equitable access to legal information, land administration institutions, legalization of rights and devices of conflict resolution. But it also underlines that this ongoing process of legal empowerment still need to be more inclusive for the poor and discusses the ways to reinforce this process without denying the reality of local/customary land practices.