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Close to one billion people worldwide depend directly upon the drylands for theirlivelihoods. Because of their climatic conditions and political and economicmarginalization drylands also have some of the highest incidents of poverty. Pastoral andsedentary production systems coexist in these areas and both very often use commonproperty arrangements to manage access and use of natural resources. Despite theirhistory of complementary interactions, pastoralists and sedentary farmers are increasinglyfaced with conflicting claims over land and other natural resources. Past policyinterventions and existing regulatory frameworks have not been able to offer lastingsolutions to the problems related to land tenure and resource access; problems betweenthe multiple and differentiated drylands resource users, as part of broader concerns overresource degradation and the political and economic marginalization of the drylands.This paper discusses enduring tension in efforts to secure rights in drylands. Onthe one hand are researchers and practitioners who advocate for statutory law as the mosteffective guarantor of rights, especially of group rights. On the other side are those whounderscore the complexity of customary rights and the need to account for dynamism andflexibility in drylands environments in particular. It explores innovative examples ofdealing with secure access to resources and comes to the conclusion that process, ratherthan content, should be the focus of policy makers. Any attempt to secure access formultiple users in variable drylands environments should identify frameworks for conflictresolution, in a negotiated manner, crafting rules from the ground upwards, in addition toa more generalized or generic identification of rights. Elite capture and exclusion ofwomen and young people continue to pose significant challenges in such decentralizedprocesses. For rights to be meaningfully secured there is need to identify the nature andsources of threats that create insecurities.

Keywords: Drylands ; secure access ; land tenure ; customary rights ; natural resources ; multiple users ; Africa

Subject(s): Land Economics/Use

Resource /Energy Economics and Policy

Issue Date: 2006

Publication Type: Working or Discussion Paper

PURL Identifier:

Total Pages: 44

Series Statement: CAPRI Working Paper


Record appears in: CGIAR > International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) > CAPRi Working Papers

Autor: Mwangi, Esther ; Dohrn, Stephan


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