Land Tenure and Sustainable Livelihoods in the Lawra District, Ghana

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Land is the mainstay of human’s life; from it man depends for his survival. It comprises the earth surface, what is below it and what is above it. All the legal rights, be they contractual or customary, that guide the ownership and use of land is referred to as the land tenure system. Land tenure system is a major determinant of sustainable livelihoods — it is a guide to land accessibility and the uses to which the land could be put to. Lawra district has an economy that predominantly relies on agriculture for its sustenance. The main objective of this study is therefore to assess the land tenure system in the district and how it affects the livelihoods of the people. Recommendations are then suggested on how to sustainably maximise the benefits from the use of the land. The cross sectional model, which collects data at a single point in time was used to collect the data. The results of the research show that land in the district was in the hands of the ‘tendana’ who alienated it to various family/clan heads. These family/clan heads have also divided the land among the various households who now exercise absolute control over the land. The ‘tendana’ is now just a ceremonial custodian of the land but he does not interfere in dealings concerning the land unless it is what he retained for himself. Chiefs play very minimal role in land matters. It also came out clear that anybody could have access to land through inheritance, purchase or gift. Sale of land is common in the towns, whilst in the villages it is still maintained that land is not for sale, perhaps because no one has made the offer to buy. It was however realized that formal documentation of titles to land is not done because the land delivery agencies do not operate in the district and those that do are not efficient enough. The land is basically used for farming and building purposes. Land was however 4nd to be limited in supply and highly fragmented, which do not encourage commercial farming. Yields too are declining because the land keeps reducing in both size and fertility and also because of low adoption to improved cultural practices. Sustainable livelihoods in the district are therefore seriously threatened. Formation of cooperatives to pool their resources together and also take advantage of financial s and other training from both governmental and non-governmental agencies is recommended. It is also suggested that land securitization be introduced to attract other investors to come in and use the land without necessarily selling out the land so that the future generation still benefit from it. Again, titles to land should be perfected to boost prospective investors’ confidence and also forestall the occurrence of land problems that bedevilled land management in the cities. Agriculture should also be modernized and irrigational facilities be provided to make use of the Black Volta and also encourage all year farming. These suggestions would help manage the land sustainably and also help boost yields which would go a long way to make livelihoods sustainable in the district.
A Thesis Submitted to the Department of Planning, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Development Planning and Management, 2009