I Coast conflict leaves legacy of land disputes

2014-06-19 07:50
Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Bangolo - As Ivory Coast strives to put more than a decade of bloody conflict behind it, courts in the agrarian west African nation are overwhelmed by quarrels over land ownership.

"We are assailed with complaints every day," an administrator in the western city of Bangolo, Mahama Gbane, told AFP.

Rooted in unclear or contradictory legislation, shifting demographics and the legacy of conflict, the disputes are especially intractable in the volatile west, which suffered the worst atrocities of the 2000-11 conflict.

In the two decades after independence from France in 1960, Ivory Coast enjoyed a boom in cocoa cultivation, becoming the world's leading producer.

The powderkeg west saw massive influxes of people from other parts of the country and neighbouring Burkina Faso and Mali, mainly to work on cocoa plantations.

Ivorian tradition

"My life is here. No question of leaving!" said Adama Dembele, who heads a community of northerners who settled in the west generations ago but many of whom now face expulsion as indigenous people claim their land.

"I invested everything here. ... I only know Duekoue," the western town where Dembele said he was born in 1945.

In Ivorian tradition, land belonged to ancestors, not the living - "who enjoyed the right of use," an expert on the issue told AFP. "There was also a 'land chief' who handled the allocation of terrain."

As a result, people who stake a longstanding ownership claim to land on the basis of decisions made by the traditional chiefs may face challenges by Ivorians from other regions and sometimes foreigners.

During French colonial times, the state claimed ownership of all the land, and it retained that control after independence in 1960.

Massive displacement

In 1998, new legislation opened the way to private land ownership, which had hitherto been the privilege of a tiny minority.

By then, independent Ivory Coast's population had quadrupled, to 16 million; today it is some 23 million.

In 2000, the country was cut in half when a rebellion backing the current president, Alassane Outtara, took control of the north, while the south stayed in the hands of former president Laurent Gbagbo.

People in the west, fleeing exactions, abandoned land and property to take refuge in the southern economic capital Abidjan or in neighbouring Liberia.

When they came home they found their land had been appropriated by relative newcomers.

"The massive displacement in western Cte d'Ivoire caused by the post-election crisis [in 2010-11] ushered in chaos around land rights and acquisition," Human Rights Watch wrote in an October 2013 report.

"Deep inter-communal tensions linked to land were one factor in why western Cte d'Ivoire played host to many of the worst atrocities," HRW said.

Poverty

Andre Guei Flan, a retired civil servant who has become a traditional chief, said the indigenous people have their share of responsibility for the situation.

"Poverty has come with the crisis. Young people with no education fend for themselves. So when you offer them a little money for a plot of land they make deals," he said.

The makeshift land titles, with no legal status whatsoever, generate numerous conflicts.

Aladari Yao, a Burkinabe who came to Beoue, a town near Bangolo, nearly two years ago, paid 170 000 CFA francs ($350) to a resident for a section of forest that, as he learned later to his cost, was already under cultivation by a purported owner.

The 1998 law gave farmers 10 years to register their land - a deadline that was extended another 10 years last August given the feeble response.

Currently hardly 20 000 hectares out of an estimated 23 million are registered - some 0.09% - even though the stakes are no less than "peace and social cohesion", Agriculture Minister Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibaly remarked last October.

Even so, the state has no budget for resolving the property conundrum, a ministry employee lamented.
Read more on:    alassane outtara  |  laurent gbagbo  |  ivory coast  |  west africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Camping gear!

We’ve got all your camping must have’s right here at mind blowing low prices. Check them out now!

Herbex – buy 3 & get 1 free!

Fat burn packs, appetite control chewies, stretch mark cream and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

30% off Jinger Jack handbags

Spice up your wardrobe and save 30% on stylish Jinger Jack handbags. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Buy 3 books & pay for 2

The cheapest of the 3 books will be free. Offer valid while stocks last. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

Deal of the week!

Hisense 40” Full HD LED Television now R3999. Offer valid while stocks last. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Today is a good day to network and share your ideas and thoughts with your colleagues and friends. Information overload is...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.