Governance Challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Case of Land Guards and Land Protection in Ghana
Date of Submission
Doctor of Philosophy in International Conflict Management (Ph.D. INCM)
Dr. Brandon D. Lundy
Dr. Volker Franke
Dr. Akanmu Adebayo
Land management policy in many developing nations has been riddled with conflict because of competing land tenure systems. Having transitioned through customary tenure systems to bureaucratic property rights regimes without a complete shift from the former, Ghana’s land management system, over time, has witnessed administrative challenges such that some desperate land protection schemes are taking root, including the use of unregulated security land guards in peri-urban areas. The fundamental objective of this research, therefore, is to explore and better understand the lengths to which people or groups will go to ensure land rights and protection in a regime of statutory rules and regulations. Relying on the World Bank-sanctioned Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) framework (2015), this study examines Ghana’s land governance structures and gauges citizen-government dynamics in land policy and management. The methodological approach adopted for this study involved the collection and analysis of field interviews across four different land-stakeholder categories: public sector officials; private landowners; land law enforcement agents; and unregulated security land guards. Overall, the study found that the land administration system of Ghana has not fully achieved effective land governance and consequently occasions instances where people have the tendency to seek other means of exercising control over land rights, including the implementation of land-guard operations. Delays in the adjudication of land cases, resulting from excessive numbers of cases, lead to bureaucratic frustrations informing the decisions of many landowners to seek shortcuts to land-dispute resolutions. This study recommends that the land policy administration consider alternative land-dispute resolution mechanisms to those currently in use. Additionally, traditional leaders’ involvement in the design of land management systems and dispute resolution, together with state agencies, should provide an acceptable solution toward better land governance for all stakeholders. The study’s findings and recommendations indicate that Ghana, and similar sub-regional countries, stand to improve their levels of compatibility between customary land tenure systems and statutory property rights, thereby enhancing economic development and effective land governance.
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