Hon. Professor, Minister for Lands and Forestry
The trend in Ghana is towards an increase in poverty. To date, poverty reduction strategies have been ineffective. This is partly because of political instability, but such development plans that have existed have rarely been implemented. This paper examines the reasons for these failures with a direct focus on land issues and development. In particular, it aims to show that: (a) contradictions between macro- and microdevelopment strategies have undermined the development processes and increased poverty; (b) land issues have not been integrated into the wider development agenda; (c) progressive land policies do not currently guide development policy; (d) the public and customary land management institutions are too weak to implement policies that alleviate poverty; (e) land reform and the integration of land issues into the broader development strategies are warranted; and (f) donor and non-governmental organization support in financial, technical and collaborative research would greatly enhance the development and poverty alleviation strategies.
Five out of the ten regions in Ghana had more than 40 percent of their population living in poverty in 1999, the worst affected being the three northern savannah regions (the Upper East, Upper West and Northern Regions). Nine out of ten people in the Upper East, eight out of ten in the Upper West, seven out of ten in the Northern Region and five out of ten in the Central and Eastern Regions were classified as poor in 1999. Of the ten regions, the Upper East, Northern and Central Regions experienced increases in poverty and extreme poverty in the 1990s. Urban areas in the northern savannah also experienced significant increases in poverty during this period.
Across the population, poverty is highest by far among food crop farmers. Studies have shown that women dominate this sector. This group contributes far in excess of their population size to the national incidence of poverty. The incidence of poverty is also high among informal employees and the non-farming selfemployed. Studies have shown that women experience greater poverty, work longer hours, use fewer resources and have lower literacy rates. There is also a gender disparity with respect to access to and control of a range of assets, including direct productive assets such as land and credit, human capital assets including education and health, and social capital assets such as political participation at various levels, legal rights and protection.
As well as financial measures, most of the sampled communities indicated poverty based on a lack of basic necessities and facilities, and an inability to provide education and medical care for the family (GPRS, 2002).
Goals of the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy
The goals of the Strategy are to:
ensure economic stability for accelerated growth;
increase production and promoting sustainable livelihoods;
facilitate direct support for equitable human resource development;
provide special programmes in support of the vulnerable and excluded;
ensure gender equality;
ensure good governance and the increased capacity of the public sector;
involve the private sector actively as the main engine of growth and partner in nation building.
The paper is based mainly on previous primary research findings by the author, complemented by secondary data. Field observations, discussions with fellow researchers along with the author's long experience in the Ghanaian land market contribute to this study.
The paper is divided into sections:
macrolevel interventions in the areas of structural adjustment programmes and mining, and their effects on community land rights;
government intervention in the forestry sector and its implications for land rights and poverty;
land ownerships patterns and management systems;
appropriate policy recommendations to address the land issues and the poverty problem.
Structural Adjustment and Economic Recovery Programmes and agricultural policy, 1983 - 2000
The central focus of development policy in Ghana since 1983 is the Structural Adjustment and Economic Recovery Programmes (SAP and ERP) initiated and supported by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Concrete structural reforms are still in progress: liberalization of the economy, rationalization of the financial and public sectors, floating of the cedi (C), removal of subsidies, including those on fertilizer, insecticides and farm machinery, divestment of state-owned enterprises including cocoa and coffee plantations, and promotion of joint-venture and privatesector participation.
An article entitled "Ghana: toward successful stabilization and recovery" indicated that a far-reaching Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) initiated in 1983 and supported by IMF and World Bank resources has revamped the economy (Chand and Til, 1988).
To some extent, this is true. The country's debt - service ratio had reduced from 60 percent in 1989 to 36 percent by the end of December 1990, and the momentum of growth of the 1980s of 5 - 6 percent had only slowed to about 4 percent in 1991. Inflation reduced significantly from about 200 percent in the early 1980s to current levels of about 20 - 25 percent. It has also been reported that as at June 1990, the country had cleared all arrears of its external debts totalling US$3 600 million (the Pioneer, 1991).
Thanks to the rehabilitation projects in the cocoa, gold, timber, infrastructure, transport and communications, power and water supply sectors, the export base of the economy seems to have been restored. However, smallholder agriculture is in serious crisis and some rural and peri-urban economies appear to have collapsed.
"Prior to the irrigation schemes, land was physically in short in supply in the Frafra district. Farm lands were consequently small but there was no apparent landlessness in the North-East. If the survey results are anything to go by, landlessness is now a reality, and poses serious social and economic insecurity for the emergent landless class given the dearth of alternative employment opportunities outside agriculture in these rural areas.
"About 44 percent (98 of 225 respondents) confirmed that they had household members who were without farmland; this involved a total of 495 alleged landless people. This issue is corroborated by the traditional authorities who estimated a total landless population of over 1000 people in the sixteen villages studied. Landlessness is more critical at Vea, with a smaller land area (1197 hectares, gross) and a higher population density than
Tono (3860 hectares, gross): The farming system has become too expensive with its concomitant indebtedness. This is mainly due to the escalating input costs and land charges. Between 1983 and 1990, the percentage increase in land charges was about 2229. During the 1989/90 dry season, the price of a crate of tomatoes (66 kg) fluctuated between ¢500.00 and ¢6,000.00; marketing of tomatoes was a problem due to a glut and produce rotted. Though the point needs further investigation, indebtedness appears a general problem among Ghanaian irrigation farmers."
The ultimate effect of the ERP and SAP on smallholder farmers appears generally negative.
Surface mining and agricultural doom
Some aspects of the Minerals and Mining Law (1986 PNDCL. 153 [as amended]) are relevant here. Section 70(1), (2) and (3) stipulate:
(1) The holder of a mineral right shall exercise his rights under this Law subject to such limitations relating to surface rights as the Secretary may prescribe.
(2) The rights conferred by a mineral right shall be exercised in a manner consistent with the reasonable and proper conduct of the operations concerned, so as to affect as little as possible the interest of any lawful occupier of the land in respect of which such rights are exercised.
(3) The lawful occupier of any land within an area subject to a mineral right shall retain the right to graze livestock upon or to cultivate the surface of such land in so far as such grazing or cultivation does not interfere with the mineral operations in the area.
Furthermore, Section 71(1) provides:
The owner or occupier of any land subject to a mineral right may apply to the holder of the right for compensation for any disturbance of the rights of such owner and for any damage done to the surface of the land, buildings, works or improvements or to live stock, crops or trees in the area of such mineral operations.
Today, surface mining is the normal practice in almost all regions in Ghana. However, the conflict of interests between mining companies and the numerous agricultural villages with surface rights within mining concessions are threatening the very existence of some villages.
This forms the basis of the current conflict between the people of Akontanse and Goldfields (Gh) Limited Mining Company in the Wassa West District in the Western Region. "The Company has now started 'blasting' even though the people of Akontanse have not yet been resettled or compensated in anyway" (Asare, 1997). The same is true of the Leo Shield Exploration (Ghana) Limited operations in the Asankrangwa district, Western Region.
When mining companies are also given surface rights to undertake surface and open-pit mining operations, resulting in the displacement of villagers from their homes, farms, grazing lands, fallow land and reserved lands, contamination of their water courses and sources, and environmental degradation generally, where are the surface rights of these poor and marginalized villagers? The legal contradictions ought to be appreciated by the legislators, mining companies, policymakers and the government generally.
Surface mining now poses the greatest threat to both commercial and subsistence farming in Ghana.
Cocoa is of equal or greater importance to gold in Ghana's economy. Cocoa is a longyielding investment, lasting between 40 and 50 years. Cocoa farms are interplanted with farm-consumed food crops. Although there is some slash-and-burn involved in the initial land clearing, the environmental damage is negligible in comparison with surface mining.
In 1997 some cocoa farmers who were victims of surface mining operations in the Dunkwa-on-Offin area were being offered C9 000 per tree. A mature cocoa tree was capable of yielding half a bag of cocoa beans and farmers were being paid C112 500 per bag of cocoa (i.e. 62.5 kg). In effect a farmer who was offered C9 000 for a lost cocoa tree could obtain C55 250 from that tree for just one season and the returns to this cocoa tree could last for between 40 and 50 years. The gross injustice to these helpless village farmers is clear. If a free society cannot help the majority who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.
As has been argued on behalf of the victims of expropriation at Akontanse:
"We would advise you that the government approved rates are not sacrosanct and do not preclude victims of mining impacts from engaging qualified persons with the appropriate expertise in such matters. The heads of compensation under the law include compensation for land and buildings, improvements, including crops, disturbance and professional fees (Lawyers and Valuers). It would be unfortunate for a District Chief Executive to break the laws, and in the event, impoverish already marginalized Ghanaian rural farmers in the name of investment. Any investment that induces social unrest and tension, land conflicts and/or the displacement of helpless farmers can never be sustainable. Neither is it in the interest of the country except the mining companies."
THE FORESTRY SECTOR
Government forest reserves, management machinery and agricultural conflicts
"All forest lands in Ghana are communally owned. They are owned by traditional communities whose titular heads are either skins or stools. All lands are also held in trust by the State for the skins or stools. Regulations in the Forest Ordinance also allow that every Forest Reserve be managed by the owner or owners, under the direction of the Forestry Department, or by the government for the benefit of the owner or owners."
The ambiguities and legal implications are not often appreciated by most of the "experts" in the forestry sector. This is the root cause of the tenurial conflicts in forest land-use and management. In theory, the vesting order under the relevant forest resources statutory provisions creates dual ownership - the legal estate in the government and the beneficial estate in the local communities. In practice, however, the Forest Ordinance No. 13 of 1927 (Cape 157), along with subsequent enactments in the forestry sector, operate to expropriate all forest lands from the communities, as both the legal estate and the management powers are usually transferred to the government. Delegated authorities such as the Ministry of Lands and Forestry, the Forestry Commission, the Forest Research Institute, the Timber Marketing Board, the Forestry Products Inspection Office and the Department of Game and Wildlife are entrusted with the direct administration and management of forest resources generally. Local communities may own the forest lands, but the government has, in practice, usurped all their management and decision-making processes in respect of land utilization.
The tragedy is that the statutory provisions relevant to forest resources do not embody specific compensation provisions, except for negligible disturbance payments. The law provides a convenient and cheap method of regulating customary lands. However, the management problems of such forest reserves, along with the undue hardships usually suffered by expropriated and displaced local farmers, underline the tenurial conflicts and poverty among communities.
Scarcity of usable land, land conflicts and encroachment on forest reserves
Recent research from the Western Region best illustrates the point. The Western Region is the best stocked timber-producing area of Ghana with a total of 51 forest reserves. The region is home to several of the country's largest timber firms. It is also a major cocoa growing area. Today, there are no longer vast areas of uncultivated forest awaiting development by enterprising cocoa farmers - except in forest reserves. The shortage of virgin forest has encouraged some farmers to encroach illegally into some forest reserves on a massive scale. It is now estimated that some forest reserves in the region have been destroyed to the extent of 50 - 70 percent of their total areas (England, 1993).
The legitimate quest for land by local communities and migrant farmers to meet their basic needs in the face of limited land supplies, partly brought about by the arbitrary creation of government forest reserves, underlines current tenurial and land-use conflicts. Whilst cocoa farms, for instance, are wholly owned by farmers, forest reserves and timber appear to belong to the government, the Forestry and related departments, the timber merchants, etc., who derive a disproportionate share of the benefits.
If this is contrasted with the undue hardships usually suffered by local communities, their displacement from the lands of their birth rights, the meagre compensation claims (if any), the population pressure, the general poverty and apparent injustice, the resulting tenurial and land-use conflicts become obvious. Without appropriate policy measures to redress the conflicts, the chances of sustainable development generally, and forest conservation in particular, are doubtful.
Destruction of farmland by timber contractors and difficult compensation claims
Timber trees on farmland are, in law, owned by the government and are usually felled by timber merchants and contractors without the least regard for the cash and food crops of the farmers. These crops are destroyed with impunity by caterpillars and other heavy trucks, usually without any compensation. Where compensation is paid, the formula commonly used in Ghana is the head-count method of crops destroyed, multiplied by a historically fixed government rate for various crops in an inflationary economy. This is a major contributor to poverty among farmers.
LAND OWNERSHIP PATTERNS AND MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS
Negative land policies, and outdated landmanagement systems
As well as contradictory development programmes, Ghana has been plagued with negative land policies and outmoded landmanagement systems. Migrant farmers and land law reform The most far-reaching proposals for the reform of land law in Ghana are contained in the Law Reform Commission's final report submitted in 1973/74.
The recommendations provide a starting point for an evaluation of the implications of land law reform in the formulation of a national agricultural land policy. The recommendations have inherent contradictions including:
Great faith is put on the role of the state and on legislation to the detriment of the potential contribution of the customary/private sector in the law reform process. Hence, rent must be fixed and altered by legislative instruments only.
The recommendations suggest that there should be no limits to the sale price of land, but that rents should be controlled by legislation. It is respectfully submitted that rent is a function of capital value. Hence in controlling rent, the government is indirectly controlling capital values.
The empowerment of the state to take control of all vacant land, and limitations on individual landholdings to a maximum aggregate of 200 ha and 2 ha, respectively, ignores specific supply-and-demand considerations of landed property in various localities.
The Law Reform Commission's report laid the basis for the ongoing agricultural rent being paid by migrant farmers to the Administrator of Stool Lands as stipulated by law. A recent field survey in October 1997 by the author in the Ejura district established that migrant farmers are being levied "C5 000 per rope". Ten "ropes" are equivalent to 1 acre. Hence, 1 acre is equivalent to C50 000 per annum. The principle appears wrong and causes great anxiety among migrant farmers. Farmers are able to enter into negotiations freely with traditional authorities before gaining access to land. They usually pay in kind - some annual produce, communal labour for community work as well as dwantwere (some contribution for the annual sacrifices/festivals). This done, migrants usually live happily with their hosts without social difficulty.
Migrant farmers do not understand why they should pay twice over - one to the traditional authorities and the other to the government, which gives them no benefit in return. This feeling is exacerbated when all agricultural subsidies have been removed. The produce of farmers is taxed in the same way as any other product or service and they pay tolls for sending foodstuffs to the markets. The apparent injustice is obvious.
Worse still, the administrative costs of collecting the rent far exceeds any rent ever collected. In the Ejura example, the Rent Inspector confirmed during our interview that he and his assistant managed to collect C1 000 000 in 1997, partly because of transport and communication difficulties in reaching the farmers. Walking is the main mode of transport. Their combined annual salary and commission, excluding allowances for the year, was estimated at almost C1 800 000. It is apparent that agricultural rent satisfies nobody, other than public officials.
Rapid urbanization, loss of agricultural land and gender insecurity
Ghana has no urban policy. Findings from recent research, "Rapid urbanization, land markets and gender insecurity in peri-urban Kumasi, Ghana" (Kasanga, 1997a), are frightening. The evidence suggests that the preparation or approval of a planning scheme/layout marks the end of agricultural land holdings for both women and men. The following findings are noteworthy:
Rapid urbanization is proceeding unabated. So is the conversion of periurban agricultural lands into housing estates and related urban uses.
The land market is demand-driven and the decision-making process towards converting agricultural land rests mainly with the chiefs, queen-mothers and their elders, along with the public land-use and land administration agencies as stipulated in the 1992 Constitution.
Families and individuals in the communities are rarely consulted.
Once a layout/planning scheme has been initiated or approved, farmers either immediately or eventually lose total control of their farmland. Women, the overwhelming majority in the farm business, are usually the first and the worst casualties.
Displaced farmers are rarely compensated by the chiefs, queen-mothers or government. Displacement of the indigenous people without compensation claims has resulted in some disquiet, misunderstanding and sometimes open hostilities between the displaced families on the one hand and traditional land custodians and the new developers on the other.
The most evident benefits of urbanization from the point of view of the respondents include: access to electricity and social amenities; increased building operations; access to markets; hospitals and some limited employment.
However, the adverse effects of urbanization far outweigh the benefits. An unbearably high cost of living, food crises, chronic unemployment, poverty, loss of agricultural land and the concomitant landlessness and homelessness, environmental degradation and pollution, teenage pregnancy and social vices are shaking the social and economic fabric of the communities. Gender insecurity is real and grave.
Land ownership patterns and problem areas
Land ownership, land rights and tenures are administered in a plural legal environment with customary laws and norms operating alongside statutes. The customary owners - stools, clans, families, and tendamba, who hold the allodial title, own about 78 percent of the total land area in Ghana. Of the remaining 22 percent, the state owns outright about 20 percent while the remaining 2 percent is held in dual ownership: the legal estate in the government and the beneficiary/equitable interest in the community. However, the state has elaborate institutional and legal structures for the management of all these types of land.
Land ownership in Ghana
There are no comprehensive data on land ownership and defined boundaries for the 78 percent of the land held by the customary sector. With the exception of the few areas that have been adjudicated upon by the law courts and the Stool Land Boundary Settlement Commission, ownership data and boundary identification must be deduced from oral tradition and memory. Boundaries are generally defined not with reference to surveyed maps, but to physical landmarks such as hills, streams, trees and anthills. These landmarks shift with time. There is therefore constant land litigation over ownership and boundaries.
The management of this resource is characterized by incoherent, conflicting and sometimes outdated legislation with an unwieldy public land sector dominating documentation of land rights, revenue collection and distribution. There is general indiscipline in the allocation and development of land; numerous land litigation cases before the courts, estimated at about 60 000 in 2002; environmental degradation and poor institutional capacity in both traditional and state sectors. The net effect of this state of affairs is continuous conflict, overburdening of the judicial processes, over-centralization of authority in urban capitals and corruption (CDD, 2002).
Public land (20 percent of the total land area) is vested in the President, on behalf of, and in trust for, the people of Ghana based on the relevant provisions of the Administration of Lands Act, 1962 (Act 123). Public lands also include any other land acquired through the State Lands Act, 1962 (Act 125) or through any other statutes, in the public interest.
Public lands are administered by the Lands Commission and its Secretariats, as provided in the Lands Commission Act, 1994 (Act 483). Section 36(8) of the Constitution states:
The State shall recognize that ownership and possession of land carry a social obligation to serve the larger community and, in particular, the State shall recognize that the manages of public, stool, skin and family lands are fiduciaries charged with the obligation to discharge their functions for the benefit respectively of the people of Ghana, of the stool, skin, or family concerned and are accountable as fiduciaries in this regard.
Consequently, all stool-land transactions involving capital exchange require the consent and concurrence of the Lands Commission to make them valid.
All stools are therefore mandated to establish Stool Land Accounts into which shall be paid all rents, dues, royalties, revenues, or other payments whether in the nature of income or capital from stool lands.
Important legislative interventions since 1983
Compulsory Land Title Registration Law (PNDCL 156), 1986
Lands Commission Act, 1994 (Act 483)
Office of the Administrator of Stool Lands Act, 1994 (Act 481)
National Land Policy
The Administrator of Stool Lands, established under the Office of the Administrator of Stool Lands Act, 1994 (Act 481) is charged with the management of stool lands. The formula for the disbursement of stool land revenue denotes:
10 percent of the gross revenue goes to the Administrator of Stool Lands for administrative expenses; and of the remainder:
25 percent to the stool through the traditional authority;
20 percent to the traditional authority;
55 percent to the District Assembly.
Under Article 267(3) of the Constitution, there shall be no disposition or development of any stool land unless the Regional Lands Commission of the region in which the land is situated has certified that the disposition or development is consistent with the development plan drawn up or approved by the planning authority for the area concerned.
The Local Government Act, 1993 (Act 462) reinforces the point and further stipulates that all development, particularly in urban centres, requires both planning permission and development permits from District and Metropolitan Assemblies.
Legal contradictions and land administration
An inherent contradiction of the state land machinery is that it attempts to monopolize all the most important land-management functions and decision-making processes that must, of necessity, go along with ownership in the customary/private sector, including:
the timing of land disposal;
the collection and distribution of revenue, income and other benefits;
the formulation of planning schemes/ layout;
the granting of planning permission, development permits, consents and concurrence;
the registration of deeds and titles.
Understandably, landholders and developers are making their respective land disposals and development decisions without appreciating the social costs and benefits of their decisions. The requirements for planning permission and applications for development permits under statutory planning schemes are largely ignored by the public, resulting in onerous adverse consequences and environmental hazards.
State vested/public lands, resource access and exclusion
Section 5 of the Administration of Lands Act, 1962 (Act 123) in the case of Kumasi Town Lands states the position for the country generally:
The President may grant, to any person owing allegiance to the Asantehene one lease, at a nominal rent of one shilling per annum, of one vacant plot of land for residential purposes only, in any area within the boundaries of the Kumasi town lands described in the Schedule of this Act, and comprising land held in trust for the Golden Stool and the Kumasi traditional area. Any such plot, including a plot granted under an enactment repealed by this Act, is called a 'free plot'. The lessee may, with previous consent, in writing, of the Minister, assign his free plot to any person owning such allegiance but shall not, except as provided in subsection (3) of this Section, assign it to any other person.
Under current cosmopolitan neighbourhoods in Kumasi and under custom, all the inhabitants of the Kumasi Metropolis owe some allegiance to the Asantehene. The implication is that free government plots are freely assignable for valuable consideration - to anybody. Regulation 9 under LI 230, State Lands Act 1962 demands a banker's reference of 1 000 Pounds (Form 5) before an applicant is allocated a government plot.
Having priced the rural people, the aged, the unemployed, the disabled, etc., out of the public land market, no further evidence is needed to show that all public lands in the country have gone to a small minority class. Given current economic and financial constraints, this expensive, wasteful, corrupt and inequitable public land administration machinery has outlived its usefulness.
Where are the economic, financial, equity and efficiency considerations of the state land management machinery?
Current constraints facing land rights
an inadequate policy and legal framework;
fragmented institutional arrangements and weak institutional capacity;
a weak land administration system that excludes land owners and chiefs from major decisions on land administration;
an underdeveloped land registration system and inefficient land markets;
compulsory acquisition by government of large tracts of land without payment of compensation;
indeterminate boundaries of customarily held lands, spawning massive land disputes and litigation;
inadequate security of land tenure, undervaluing urban property, making it difficult to use land values as collateral for loans and depressing national and local government revenues;
difficult access to land, thwarting both urban and rural development;
general indiscipline in the land market.
Compulsory acquisition, poverty and insecurity
Evidence from Ofankor (Kasanga et al., 1996) illustrates the point. Rapid urbanization and government intervention in the Ofankor land market have radically changed the nature of the customary land tenure system. By executive instrument (EI) 82, 1978, on the strength of the state Lands Act, 1962 (Act 125), the government compulsorily acquired most of the Ofankor lands in the public interest. Based on estimates of the chief and elders, about 85 percent of all Ofankor lands have been expropriated under the executive instrument. Adding insult to injury, local leaders came to know of the expropriation only when they saw prisoners and others cutting boundary lines in the late 1980s.
In 1990, when the affected families first contacted the Lands Commission to state their case, the layout for "Ofankor Sector One Residential Area" had already been completed and all the land sold to outsiders. Compensation, assessed to be C17 200 000 in 1980 and not less than C2 billion as at February 1994, has yet to be paid. The ultimate effect of the executive instrument on Ofankor lands is:
a shortage of lands for all land uses, including residential, agricultural and commercial;
population pressure on limited lands and landlessness among indigenous people;
out-migration of young men and women to central Accra and the suburbs and changing occupations with many villagers becoming labourers, artisans and clerical officers. A few are in business and general trading;
that sand mining along with stone/gravel quarrying (with disastrous environmental consequences) now form a major source of employment for men and women.
Every region has its own story to tell. Outstanding compensation claims nationwide are now estimated at about C800 billion. This is a major cause of poverty in the country.
Clearly, contradictory development programmes, negative land policies and outmoded land-management systems are major causes of poverty in Ghana.
New government initiatives
In January 2001, there was a change of government in Ghana. The new government reviewed past development strategies and found them inadequate, particularly regarding poverty alleviation.
The country also attained the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) status in February 2002.
Development policy and poverty alleviation strategies have changed radically.
Under the GPRS, government intends to develop inflation-indexed medium- to longterm debt instruments aimed at reducing the domestic debt services payments. Also, 10 percent of the resources freed up as a result of the HIPC initiative are to be redirected to reduce the domestic debt situation. Besides, 90 percent of the proceeds from the implementation of the divestiture process are to be applied to reduce the domestic debt stock. Generally, HIPC-released resources would be channelled directly into poverty-reduction activities.
The government's medium-term priorities (2002 - 2004)
The GPRS represents comprehensive policies to support growth and poverty reduction over a three-year period (2002 - 2004). It is informed by the conviction of the current government that the economy of Ghana needs to be managed effectively to enable wealth creation for the benefit of all Ghanaians.
The emphasis over the period will be on stabilizing the economy and laying the foundation for a sustainable, accelerated and job-creating agro-based industrial growth. The GPRS will also focus on providing the enabling environment that will empower all Ghanaians to participate in wealth creation and to partake in the wealth created. It will ensure that all Ghanaians, irrespective of their socio-economic status or where they reside, have access to basic social services such as health care, quality education, potable drinking water, decent housing, security from crime and violence, and the ability to participate in decisions that affect their own lives.
The priorities over the period 2002 - 2004 are infrastructure, modernized agriculture based on rural development, enhanced social services, good governance and private-sector development.
The objective is to open up the country, introduce competition and create an enabling environment for the private sector. These priorities are consistent with the location analysis and are reflected in the sectoral elements of the GPRS.
Modernized agriculture based on rural development
The government's objective is to develop the country to become an agro-industrial economy by the year 2010. This will require the development of the rural economy. The actions to be taken will include:
reforming land acquisition to ensure easier access and more efficient land ownership and title processes;
serving as a catalyst to assist the private sector to increase the production of grains such as rice, maize and tubers so that food security can be achieved. This will include extension and research services, irrigation facilities and affordable credit to support the farmer;
encouraging the production of cash crops such as cashew;
supporting the private sector to add value to traditional crops such as cocoa.
Enhanced social services
The objective is to enhance the delivery of social services to ensure equity across the regions, particularly with regard to education and health services.
The objective is to ensure the rule of law, respect for human rights and the attainment of social justice and equity. This should strengthen the three arms of government: the executive, judiciary and the legislature.
The actions to be taken include:
supporting the work of parliament to enable the institution to play its role for better governance;
restructuring the civil service to ensure efficiency, effectiveness and performance-based compensation;
strengthening the capacity of the office of the Attorney-General and the judiciary in terms of numbers, technology, training and equipment in order to ensure the appropriate rule of law;
enhancing social order by improving the police service - equipping them with vehicles, communications, equipment and technology, enhancing training and increasing their numbers;
ensuring transparency and account ability in resource generation, allocation and management.
The objective is to strengthen the private sector in an active way to ensure that it is capable of acting effectively as the engine of growth and poverty reduction. This is to lead to the creation of wealth at a faster rate in order to reduce poverty in a sustained manner. The actions to be taken will include:
working with the private sector, both foreign and domestic, as an effective development partner;
providing active assistance through the divestiture programme, financial support and streamlining government bureaucracy.
The 2002 budgetary allocations to these sectors (Yaw Osafo-Maafo, 2002) directly reflect the government's priority areas.
It is against this background that the government further intends to overhaul the land issues and the land-management systems generally.
The government's new land policies
The Government of Ghana has taken some initiatives aimed at addressing the land constraints, and in integrating the land issues into the broader development agenda. These are now discussed.
National land policy
A national land policy document (Ministry of Lands and Forestry, 1999) was launched in June 1999. The document attempts to capture the problems associated with land ownership, tenures and development. The new government has accepted the policy document and has started a review process that would facilitate the effective implementation of the policy provisions. Critical issues that hinder the effective operation of the land-development process and the management of forest and wildlife resources are being analysed for integration into the broader development agenda.
Land administration project
The Ministry of Lands and Forestry is preparing a land administration project (LAP) as the main tool for implementing the national land policy. LAP is a medium- to long-term project (5 - 15 years), supported by the World Bank and other donors. The project aims to reduce poverty and enhance social growth through improving security of tenure, accelerating access to land by the populace, and fostering efficient land management by developing efficient systems of land titling and administration based on clear, coherent and consistent policies and laws supported by appropriate institutional structures.
Whilst LAP is a medium- to long-term project, short-term measures are required in order to restore public confidence in land administration and in the government generally.
Reduce tensions between government and customary landowners.
Boost supply of lands for agricultural growth for rural development.
Increase investments in urban land.
Enhance private sector participation.
Foster good governance in land administration by internalizing measures for participatory management, account ability, transparency and highest and best-use principles.
Devest litigation-free lands
De-vest stool lands that have been vested in government.
Release lands compulsorily acquired by government that are in excess of government needs and for which compensation has not been paid.
Bring unutilized or underutilized state lands on to the open market.
Use de-vesting as an incentive to settle chieftaincy and land disputes amicably through alternative conflict-resolution mechanisms. If stools agree to solve the problems amicably, government should de-vest.
Out-of-court conflict-resolution mechanisms (arbitration and mediation) have proven effective when championed by progressive and forward-looking chiefs such as the Asantehene in Kumasi, Ashanti region, the Okyehene in Akyem Abuakwa, Eastern region, the Sekoti Naba, Bolgatanga traditional area, Upper East region and the head of the Gbawe Kwatei family in Accra. These good practices should be encouraged to be emulated.
Pursue a programme of redistribution of stool/skin land revenue in favour of the land owners rather than the state, and put structures in place for the strict use of such revenue for the benefit of the local communities. This will demand an amendment to the constitution. More funds would be channelled into the local communities for direct development projects, helping to alleviate poverty to some extent.
Recommended policy actions
Increase the supply of state lands on to the open market, generating revenue to help reduce the domestic debt and to pay off unpaid compensation.
Review and release state lands in excess of government and public needs to the customary land owners in line with the government's liberalization policies. The Minister of Education has indicated that 70 acres of land would suffice for any secondary/technical school. Excess lands from such school acquisitions could be released to the customary owners.
Mobilize funds to pay compensation. Where the beneficiary of the acquisition is a viable state enterprise, that agency should be called upon to contribute towards the payment of the compensation.
Use land as equity shares for the expropriated owners in some of the companies. This will require the clear identification of who is entitled to receive the compensation.
In future government will approach compulsory acquisitions with circumspection. Compulsory acquisitions will be guided by strict justification for the size of land to be acquired supported by feasibility reports, development programmes, and availability of compensation money.
Deregulate agricultural rents: the abolition of rent controls not only ensures a more efficient distribution of land between different users but also reestablishes a better balance between the state and its citizens, by ceasing to try to impose unrealistic policy measures.
In the short run, for those stools that have no capacity, joint management teams (composed of stool members and the Lands Commission) accountable to the stools, not government, should manage de-vested lands. The Lands Commission's services would attract a negotiable management fee.
All state and public properties should be secured legally prior to any de-vesting.
In the medium to long term, as the capacities of stools improve, the land management function could be fully transferred to their own lands secretariats.
Revoke all instruments of vesting orders and/or amend them in line with the principles of natural justice, fairness and equity as well as the progressive principles of the 1992 constitution. There is an urgent need for legal and constitutional reforms based on empirical reach.
Complementary policy actions
Integrate communities along the fringes of forest reserves and national parks in the management of such resources. It is no longer possible nor desirable for the state alone to control and to manage forest reserves and national parks. The need to develop integrated programmes that involve the local communities in the management of the resource cannot be over emphasized. They should be identified as co-owners with higher stakes in the resource. In this way the state can count on their cooperation and maximum support for government's efforts. This is the way to promote conditions for longterm sustainable management of the resources, environmental sustainability equity and poverty reduction. Mandatory appropriate compensation should be paid on the destruction of farms by timber contractors.
All timber utilization contracts would be issued subject to enforceable social responsibility agreements signed with communities.
The final execution by the appropriate signatories of a social responsibility agreement, which shall conform substantially to a model agreement to be provided by the Commission, pursuant to which the applicant shall undertake to assist communities and inhabitants of the traditional paramountcy whose land area encompasses the forest from which the timber is to be harvested with such amenities, services, or benefits as shall be specified in the agreement. This is provided that the cost to the applicant of providing the agreed amenities, services, or benefits shall not, in total, be less than 5 percent of the annual royalty payable for timber that will be harvested in the timber utilization contract area.
A new Minerals and Mining Law is being promulgated. The questions of the surface rights of communities and compensation for expropriated villages are being addressed more positively in this law.
The financial, personnel and technical requirements for effecting land reforms and for integrating land issues into the broader development agenda are enormous, but do not appear insurmountable. The government's political will and preparedness to effect positive changes are high. Donor and non-governmental organization support in financial, technical and collaborative research would greatly facilitate the poverty-reduction and development processes.
Asare, T. 1997. Letter addressed to the District Chief Executive Wassa West District Assembly, Tarkwa. The Secretary, Akontanse Resettlement Committee, July.
Chand, S.K. & Til, R.V. 1988. Ghana: toward successful stabilization and recovery. Finance Development, March.
Centre for Democratic Development (CDD - Ghana). 2002. Corruption and other constraints on the land market and land administration in Ghana: a preliminary investigation. Survey Report CDD - Ghana Research Papers No. 4. August.
England, P. 1992. Sustainable development and the forest sector in Ghana: a study of the Law in action. London University. (Ph.D. thesis)
England, P. 1993. Forest protection and the rights of cocoa farmers in western Ghana. Paper presented at an international seminar on the environment, ODA, Commonwealth Institute, London, 26 May 1993.
Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS). 2002. Ghana Poverty and Reduction Strategy, 2002 - 2004. An agenda for growth and prosperity: an analysis of policy statement. Republic of Ghana.
Kasanga, K. 1997a. Rapid urbanization, land markets and gender insecurity in peri-urban Kumasi, Ghana. Final draft report, GUE Research Programme, Mazingira Institute, Nairobi, Kenya, August.
Kasanga, K. 1997b. Economic recovery and the emergent landless class: a case study of the Tono and Vea Irrigation schemes of north-eastern Ghana. Paper presented at the Colloquium on Social Policy and Development in Ghana. Sponsored by Association for Development Co- Operation and the Department of Sociology, Legon, Accra, 12 - 13 December 1997.
Kasanga, K. 1997c. Agricultural land administration and social differentiation: a case study of the Tano, Vea and Fumbisi belts of north eastern Ghana. Working Paper No. 10, Social Science Research Council, New York, NY, USA.
Kasanga, K. 1997d. Letter addressed to the district chief executive, Wasa Amenfi District, on behalf of administration, Asankrangwa.
Kasanga, K., Cochrane, J., King, R. & Roth, M. 1996. Land markets and legal contradictions in the peri-urban area of Accra, Ghana: informant interview and secondary data investigation. Research Paper No. 127. Land Tenure Center, University of Wisconson-Madison, USA and Land Administration Research Centre, University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana.
Ministry of Lands and Forestry. 1999. National Land Policy. Accra, June.
Otoo, J.E. 1985. Country report - Ghana. Incountry report for the Group Training Course in Reforestation Techniques and Forest Management. Tokyo, Japan International Cooperation Agency.
The Pioneer. 1991. Ghana clears all her external debts. 17 October (11,145): 1.
Yaw Osafo-Maafo (Minister of Finance). 2002. The budget statement and economic policy for the 2002 financial year presented to parliament on Thursday, 21 February 2002. On the authority of His Excellency John Agyekum Kufour, President of the Republic of Ghana.
 The Ghanaian unit of
currency the cedi is indicated with ¢ in this quote, but C elsewhere in
 Stool: as per Deane C.J. in Quarm v. Yankah II "The conception of the stool is that and has always been accepted in the Courts of this colony is that, it is an entity which never dies, a corporation sole like the crown, and that while the occupants (chiefs) of the stool may come and go, the stool goes on forever" (1930, IWACA, p. 83). Statutory definition - includes a skin as well as any person or body of persons having control over skin or community land including family land, as a representative of the particular community. Note: a skin in northern Ghana is the equivalent of a stool in southern Ghana.
 The "owners" of the land and groves. Usually, they are the first settlers in various communities.
 The ultimate authority in land matters. It is also known as "the paramount" title, "absolute" title and "radical" title. Depending on locality the "allodial" title is vested in stools, skins, tendamba and families.
 Exchange rate as at 26 April 2002 - US$1 = C7 600.00.