Land management in Ghana: building on tradition and modernity

Land management in Ghana: building on tradition and modernity

Analysing and resolving conflict between customary and state land management systems

An overlap in the regulation of access to land and resources between customary and state management systems is causing problems of contradiction and conflict. This report analyses the pros and cons of both systems and makes a series of recommendations.

State administration of land is found to have worked against poorer elements in Ghana. Whilst the Lands Commission and other institutions have made some positive achievements there is no evidence of practical benefits for the majority. Compulsory acquisition has resulted in displacement, landlessness and social unrest. Lack of resources, low morale, corruption and lack of co-ordination are widespread and opportunities to reform state land management have so far been missed however the Governments recent National Land Policy report is a step forward.

Customary management systems in contrast are dynamic and evolutionary. They are still strong throughout Ghana particularly in the North in spite of state laws however they are under extreme pressure in some areas from high population growth and rapid urbanisation. In these areas the weakening of customary structures have resulted in endemic poverty, landlessness, homelessness and general insecurity. There is no equity, transparency or accountability in the management of land sales, which often results in conflict and uncertainty.

The report stresses the importance of donor and government support for land reforms and recommends:

  • Land policy reform based on social and natural justice, law, equity and efficiency
  • The Lands Commission other government service agencies should be split into independent self financing agencies
  • Constitutional provisions regarding land tenure and administration need to be adhered to
  • Constitutional amendments with respect to land management and collection and utilisation of revenues are required within the framework of existing tax laws

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