Cutting the web of interests: Pitfalls of formalizing property rights
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Property rights to land can be thought of as a web of interests, with many different parties having a right to use, regulate, or manage the resource, which may be based on a range of customary institutions or local norms as well as state law. These interests often play a critical role in livelihoods, social relations, and ecological functions. The formalization of property rights has historically led to a cutting of this web, creating more exclusive forms of rights over the resource. Drawing from case studies in Kenya the paper emphasizes the risk of excluding legitimate claimants in formalization processes that focus on individual titling. By collapsing all rights within individuals. such programs have negated the distinct multiple claims by women, youths, and seasonal users, among others. We examine ways in which formalization processes can secure diverse claims, and highlight the need for a better understanding of the social and ecological implications of existing land tenure before they are undermined by formalization. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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