In dryland Africa, access to land and water resources are central to pastoral livelihood activities. Policy intervention in these regions represents the outcome of concerted post-independence processes in which countries have committed to land tenure transformation as a policy objective. This was meant to create private, liberal property rights to replace communal customary tenure systems which were considered to be a constraint to development. Despite these efforts, decades of scientific research indicate that countries are still struggling to meet environmental sustainability objectives. Land degradation where it existed has not been halted and traditional pastoral livelihoods have been disrupted. The overall evidence base for policymaking remains weak as deficiencies in data or information on which management decisions were based led to poor policy performance. In a bid to strengthen understanding in this area, this study has a dual aim: 1. Using a systematic review of the literature, we examine the impact of land tenure transformation in pastoral areas in sub-Saharan Africa; 2. We analyse user-perspectives on land tenure transformation and pastoralists’ rights in Ngamiland, Botswana, so as to draw out the salient issues that must be addressed in order to reconcile pastoral tenure conflicts and land management in sub-Saharan Africa. Results from meta-analysis and case study show that land tenure transformation policies across pastoral areas are subject to similar challenges and consequences. Protecting pastoral land rights requires deliberate policy interventions that recognise pastoralism as a productive and efficient use of resources. Policymakers need to overcome anti-pastoral prejudice and focus on Sustainable Land Management goals. This entails establishing negotiated and flexible tenure frameworks that strengthen pastoralists’ participation in decision-making arenas by working with pastoral communities on the basis of understanding their livelihood system.
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