Building on GRAF’s decade-long professional experience in land governance, tenure arrangements grounded in social legitimacy were privileged in the design of this complementary instrument to the land law. As such, the process was largely led by the village community, and compatible with traditional practices of negotiating and allocating land rights. Furthermore, all tenure agreements were validated and recognised by the village assembly.

Providing villagers with decision-making power over the process and consensus given by the villagers themselves underpinned the legitimacy of these tenure agreements. In other instances, formalisation of land rights is imposed on beneficiaries with much less involvement of customary village authorities. Even where formal papers are available, they do not automatically result in social acceptance within a community, as observed by Saïdou Sanou, founding member of GRAF, who stated: “Someone can have a land title but not be able to exploit the field simply because on the village level the people do not agree with him or her managing this field.”

Looking ahead
GRAF and TMG Research are currently producing a technical guide accompanied by a movie to enable actors to take up the process and apply it in their communities.