Traditional Authorities and Peri-Urban Land Management in Ghana: Evidence from Wa

John Tiah Bugri, Edmund Mwinlanaah Yuonayel


Land is a fundamental livelihood resource and critical to the spiritual well-being of many Ghanaians. It has a sense of politics of belonging that underpins different corporate tenure groups in the country. With rising demographic pressures on land and increasing changes in social, economic, environmental and political stakes; debates, contestations and counter-contestations over land rights have multiplied, especially in peri-urban communities in Ghana. Peri-urban lands are the interface of rural and urban land settings, and in these areas control over land management becomes convoluted with both traditional authorities and state land managers often in conflict. This paper investigated the role of traditional authorities in peri-urban land management in Wa, a new but fast urbanizing capital of the Upper West Region of Ghana. The research is critical to informing policy formulation and legislation for sustainable land management and development in peri-urban Ghana. Utilizing the case study approach, data was collected from a total of 260 stakeholders at household, institutional and individual levels from nine (9) peri-urban communities of Wa. The results showed that peri-urban Wa has witnessed increasing involvement of traditional authorities in land management, with practices sometimes in consonance with formal structures of land administration and other times in conflict. The paper concludes, however, that as a developing country neither the formal structures for land administration nor the traditional institutions for land management working alone can provide the required amount of land delivery services to match the pace of demographic change and urbanization trends. In effect, as two key stakeholders in land governance it behooves both to work in consultation, collaboration, cooperation and coordination towards achieving participatory land management. Thus it is recommended that the thrust of current efforts by the Ghana Land Administration Project and the National Lands Commission in achieving sustainable land administration should be anchored on participatory land management practices.

Keywords: Traditional Authorities, Land Management, Peri-Urban, Ghana.

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