Legal Empowerment of the Poor through Property Rights Reform
Tensions and Trade-offs of Land Registration and Titling in Sub-Saharan Africa
Land registration and titling in Africa is often advocated as a pro-poor legal empowerment strategy. Advocates have put forth different visions of the substantive goals this is to achieve. Some see registration and titling as a way to protect smallholders’ rights of access to land. Others frame land registration as part of community-protection or ethno-justice agendas. Still others see legal empowerment in the market-enhancing commodification of property rights.
This paper contrasts these different visions, showing that each entails tensions and trade-offs. The analysis helps explain why land law reforms aiming at legal empowerment may be controversial or divisive in African countries.