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Land Tenure Center Assisting In Natural Resource Management In West Africa

The Land Tenure Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison (LTC), will assist the Sahelian countries of Africa in their sustainable development and natural resource management efforts. The Sahel region includes Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal.

The Sahel”s ecology makes it prone to high rates of deforestation, erosion and soil degradation. The region”s expanding population adds stress to its marginal ecology, and conflicts over land and resource use are rising in all the countries.

LTC will help plan “land tenure observatories,” which will be university centers of research, training and technical assistance. Research will be on a variety of themes including causes of deforestation, farmer-herder conflicts, the security of women”s access to irrigated land, desertification, and peri-urban expansion. Training will focus on tenure theory and research methods, first for faculty and students of the university, then to government officials and development project employees, especially at the local level. The Center will assist national teams as they begin to put the observatories into action. The Center is collaborating with the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS). The project will eventually establish a land tenure observatory and network in each CILSS-member country. Plans are most advanced in the Republic of Chad, where LTC is working with the University of N”Djamena.

LTC senior scientist Peter Bloch, also a faculty associate of the Department of Forest Ecology and Management at the UW-Madison, will provide technical advice on the research and training. Others from the UW-Madison who will be involved are Yazon Gnoumou (Land Resources), James Delehanty (African Studies), and Matt Turner (Geography).

LTC has collaborated with CILSS on its agendas of land tenure and decentralization of natural resource management since 1990. This new effort is part of a larger project funded by the United States Agency for International Development/Sahel Regional Program.

Since 1962, LTC has conducted research, training, education, and advisory programs in more than 75 countries, including 38 in Africa.