Gender and Land Rights Database


Traditional authorities and customary institutions

  • Chiefs, clan heads, lineage heads, family heads, indigenous communities and landowning families acting through their representatives govern land in customary areas. Through them, customary land is held in trust for future generations.
  • The role of such traditional authority figures in allocating and managing land has evolved since colonial times because of the sociopolitical and economic environment and because of commodification of land and individualization of titles. From being custodians and trustees of communal land, these customary actors now play a major role in urban land supply and in lobbying opinion leaders to obtain consent before any communal/family land may be alienated (18).

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography