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Local authorities and local territories in rural West Africa, by Eric Idelman

The process of transferring the land tenure
management authority from the central
government to local authorities involves the
determination of the jurisdiction of the
future incumbent authorities, i.e. their
control on a set of specifi ed land and natural
resources. But, why does the delimitation
of local authorities’ area of infl uence cause
so many problems in most West African
countries? Does decentralization not usually
result in the artifi cial and top-down creation
of local administrative units whose entire
legitimacy in the area of land management
is yet to establish, while village or
inter-village authorities have a strong local
anchorage? Does one of the major rural land
management challenges not consist in
striking balance between the capacities
devolved to the newly established municipal
authorities and the historical roles of already
existing village institutions?

Crédits: AK-Project