Since the 1990s, Mali has been engaged in a decentralization process through the creation of territorial collectivities with legal as well as financial and administrative autonomy. In reality, natural resources and land governance remains centralized two decades later, with overlapping statutory and customary rights that result in frequent land conflicts.
The Agricultural Orientation Law (2006), which establishes the foundation of land governance in Mali, reflects the government’s ambition to make Mali an agricultural powerhouse in the region. Luckily, the Agricultural Land Policy (2013) and accompanying (and soon to be enacted) Agricultural Land Law both contain innovative provisions for land governance at the local level, including considerations for smallholders and pastoralists. Unfortunately, large scale land acquisitions are exacerbating land conflicts and tenure insecurity throughout the country. Recent legal and policy developments offer a critical opportunity to create solutions to weak land governance and to alleviate the threats it poses to national security and to the wellbeing of local communities. With the signature of the Peace Agreement on May 15, 2015, Mali has made a decisive step towards national reconciliation. This progress cannot risk being undermined by tenure insecurity.
Grassroots communities and their organizations, including family farmers and other vulnerable groups including youth, women, migrants, and herders; as well as the national authorities on land governance.