Concept and Approach to Land Management Interventions for Rural Development in Africa

Concept and Approach to Land Management Interventions for Rural Development in Africa

Uchendu Eugene Chigbu (Technical University of Munich, Germany)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5939-9.ch001
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Unlike urban development, rural development is not getting adequate attention in Africa. This is true in the aspects of development policy and as a research interest. It is still not a priority in the development agenda of many African countries. The consequence is that the governance of rural development in many African countries is still treated as a linear affair. The consequence being a negation of the complexities that impede the improvement of living conditions in rural communities in Africa. This chapter is based upon an explorative study that challenges existing notions of rural development. It uses the structured literature review and focused group discussion conducted with African doctoral researchers in Germany to identify how land management can be used as an intervention for rural development. As a way forward, it presents a land managed-based approach to rural development that can be adaptable or applicable in African countries.
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In Africa, the search for better living conditions within and across countries is increasing. Within countries, the majority of the population that live below poverty lines (and who move to cities in search of economic opportunities) come from rural areas. Also, the majority of the over 240 million international migrants that move across countries in search of physical security come from rural areas. The most practical way to improve these situations is to ensure food security, reduce poverty, and make the rural environment secure and livable for those that dwell in rural areas. That is why sustainable rural development remains the most direct and effective way to improve the lives of the rural people and living conditions in the rural place.

The debate on how to deliver rural development in Africa has been going on for more than five decades. It is a debate that has taken theoretical, ideological, conceptual and methodological angles. Despite the varied discourses on rural development in Africa, embracing responsible land management as an intervention to rural development remains unexplored. Scholars who have written about rural development have mostly viewed it from different aspects, depending on their school of thought and development philosophies (or ideologies). Some have written about it from the perspectives of modernization (Klinghoffer, 1973), basic needs (Palmer, 1977), local government administration (Rondinelli, 1979), participation (Cohen and Uphoff, 1980) and agricultural development (Bryceson, 1999). Others have viewed it from multifaceted approaches (Phuhlisani, 2009), development policy (Alemu, 2012), and cultural development (Chigbu, 2013a). Some have viewed it from the lens of place attachment (Chigbu, 2013c), women’s empowerment (Chigbu, 2015a), ruralization (Chigbu, 2015b) and community development (Chigbu et al., 2018).

Considering that many rural areas in Africa are dependent on land-based livelihood options, land management is crucial to rural development. There are scholars who have conceptualized rural development approaches from land management perspectives (see Chigbu, 2013b; Magel, 2014). However, it was only of recent that de Vries and Chigbu (2017) introduced the concept and practice of responsible land management and applied it in the context of rural development in Ghana and Rwanda. In furtherance to the application of responsible land management to rural development, this study argues for a rural development approach that is based on responsible land management as an intervention. The study is based upon a conceptual research that challenges existing notions of rural development and embraces the role of land management in achieving rural development objectives (in African countries) in a responsible way. The essential elements of the study are that it emphasized the theoretical and practical issues that make responsible land management a practicable intervention for rural development in Africa.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Africa: A term used in identifying all indigenous and migrant ethnicities living in the second biggest continent in the world.

Rural Development: All activities are done for improving the socioeconomic conditions of rural people, and the environmental conditions of their locality.

Land Management Intervention: Any change caused by land management in order to improve the living conditions of people and the environment. It can occur in the form of land issues changes related to governance, law, policy, property rights, politics, administration, economics, culture, beliefs, perceptions, and behavior (to mention a few).

Rural Area: Land-spaces with culturally defined identity; situated within a place statutorily recognized as non-urban; and occupied by settlers predominantly depending on primary sources of labor for their livelihood.

Land Management: The science and practice related to the conceptualization, design, implementation, and evaluation of socio-spatial interventions on land; with the purpose to improve the quality of life of people and their environment, and the resilience of their livelihoods in a responsible, effective, efficient, consensual, and smart manner.

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