International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Customary Land Tenure and Its Implications for Land Disputes in Ghana: Cases from Wa, Wechau And Lambussie
Dominic Tuobesaane Paaga

Land disputes remain a major hindrance to land use and tenure security in most parts of Ghana. Often the institutions and mechanisms governing land are crucial to the occurrence of these disputes. Traditional authorities control over 80% of all lands. It is argued in a number of studies that urbanization with its attendant effects of population increase, pressure on land and land commercialization has resulted in the erosion of traditional values that serve to mitigate the excesses of customary trustees. In Northern Ghana, the development of customary land rights was curtailed by colonial and post-colonial governments through the vesting of all lands on government until in 1979 when ownership was reverted to local communities. Given this backdrop, one wonders what relevant traditional norms/principles regulate transactions in customary lands in this area. The study thus examines customary land management and its implications for land disputes in three traditional areas chosen from the Upper West Region. Key informant interviews were conducted with chiefs, tendambas and officials from the state land sector agencies. Focus group discussions were held with land user groups. Data was analysed thematically. The study reveals that though the traditional norm/principle of trusteeship is still relevant, the problem remains how to identify the legitimate custodians of customary lands. Also, land has acquired economic value, and is increasing. Coupled with lapses observed in the land management regimes, these underlie a number of land disputes reported in the study areas. It is recommended that Customary Lands Secretariats be established as specialized offices in land owning communities to improve upon land management.

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