Customary Land Tenure and Land Readjustment: Land Administration in Semi-Arid Ghana

  • Raqib Abu Salia

Student thesis: Phd


Contemporary policies on land administration focus on the integration of customary and statutory systems as a strategy to achieve equitable delivery of infrastructure and social services. However, there is a critical gap entrenched in process-oriented and functional approaches of informal urbanism. This lie in understanding the impacts of the interactions between customary and statutory authorities in land administration practices and how they co-exist in northern Ghana. This research draws on a case study design to examine the dynamics between customary and statutory institutions in land administration, and how these could inform land readjustment. It builds on expert interviews, household surveys and focus group discussions in three neighbourhoods of Wa Municipality. Thematic analysis complemented by discourse and narrative analysis are used to analyze the data. The study identifies the actors and processes of customary and statutory land administration, examines the existing tenure and land use situation, and explores land readjustment. It fosters an understanding of the institutional dimensions and arrangements that mediate tenure regimes and shape land development and readjustment in secondary cities. The research reveals that local planning and land administration are not undertaken as solely technical functions but as a mix of practices among a combination and interaction of actors with different mandates and interests. The interactions are shaped by local agencies and dynamics facilitated through various connections and negotiations. Customary land administration is evolving towards a more individualised and commodified system. Unequal power relations, inadequate resources, opportunistic behaviour of the actors and restrictions in land tenure and administration reinforce exclusionary and inequitable outcomes in administering customary land. Therefore, neither customary nor statutory institutions alone can guarantee an inclusive and equitable land tenure system. This can only be achieved through the sustainable integration of both institutions. The research suggests pathways for addressing the physical planning problems of informal settlements. It advocates for cross-institutional education and sensitisation to expose relevant stakeholders to the implications of readjusting customary land through an integration of state and non-state institutions.
Date of Award1 Aug 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorDeljana Iossifova (Supervisor) & Ulysses Sengupta (Supervisor)


  • Institutions
  • Process-oriented and Functional Approaches
  • Neighbourhoods
  • Land Tenure
  • Land Administration
  • Customary
  • Land Readjustment

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