Land-related conflicts are a serious and growing problem in Burkina Faso, brought on by rising population pressure, changing attitudes towards traditional leadership, and farmland investment, all of which have aggravated longstanding land-use tensions. A recent survey of smallholder farmers shows what kinds of land conflicts are of most concern and take the biggest toll on farmers’ livelihoods.
The survey, conducted in 2010 to help evaluate the work of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, was administered to 10,361 adults comprising 3,552 households in 377 villages. Over half of rural households indicated that land conflicts were at least somewhat of a concern, while over one-third indicated at least some concern about land expropriation.
Villagers identified six types of land-based conflicts, with conflicts between farmers and pastoralists the most commonly cited source of concern. Damage caused by livestock, and conflicts related to access to water sources for livestock were foremost among these.
Other concerns included conflicts with migrants over rights to agricultural land; conflicts with non-residents seeking land for non-agricultural purposes; conflicts with former residents of the village returning to claim land; and inheritance conflicts.
Survey analysis indicates that vulnerability to conflicts related to migration and former residents returning to claim land are associated with large decreases in agricultural productivity (over 40 percent). Conflicts related to access to water for livestock also had a substantial impact on productivity.
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