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Land, Legitimacy and Governance in Cameroon

Student workshop


A critical examination of who gains access to land and how, including both the formal and informal processes, is one important avenue for understanding the state and questions of legitimacy in Africa. Access or exclusion from land directly affects human development, livelihoods and survival both in urban and rural areas making land tenure a high stakes issue. Processes around land allocation strongly affect the management of critical resources: land, in addition to the resources found underneath or upon it such as minerals or forests. Hence, the way a state constructs land rights is tied to the extent to which a state responds to the diverse needs and demands of its population. Further, land in many African communities is not just a resource but is imbued with different values and meanings that can lead to tensions in the way the state formally and informally manages land, for example, as a commodity, patronage resource or a key source of livelihood which is embedded in local cultural meaning.