International Development Planning Review

Customary land tenure practices in Ghana: examining the relationship with land-use planning delivery

International Development Planning Review (2013), 35, (1), 21–39.

Abstract

In Ghana, in common with much of sub-Saharan Africa, land is mainly owned communally along ethnotribal and family lines, with designated traditional authorities responsible for its management in their capacity as trustees. Therefore, planning proposals are prepared with the expectation of implementing them on largely communal land, which is private in nature. A recent qualitative study in Ghana established that chiefs and other custodians of customary lands are continuously altering existing land-use plans by leasing land for uses which are often inconsistent with the proposals of the prevailing planning policy. Also, chiefs prepare makeshift ‘plans’ for fast urbanising areas without the knowledge or endorsement of the designated planning authorities. These practices are endemic across the country, despite being unlawful. Further analysis of this state of affairs highlighted that the institutional arrangement for planning delivery is weak, and it is often characterised by human resource shortages, funding inadequacies and logistical constraints, as well as ineffective legal frameworks for planning delivery. We argue that the growth of towns and cities in Ghana is hardly ever influenced by statutory or formal planning policy, because of the behaviour of some customary landholders and the weakness in the current institutional arrangement for planning delivery.

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Author details

Yeboah, Eric

Shaw, David