A guide to securing land tenure in irrigation schemes in Niger
According to the census conducted by the Directorate of Development and Economic Analysis of the National Office for Irrigation Schemes (ONAHA), there are 85 irrigation schemes in Niger today, covering approximately 16,000 hectares and employing more than 40,000 farmers. Under the "Kandadji" programme for ecosystem regeneration and development in the Niger Valley, an additional 45,000 hectares are expected to be developed by 2030.
As demographic pressure increases and available natural resources for agriculture become scarce, the informality of land management in irrigation schemes and of the status of the people who exploit them has become problematic. Former customary land rights holders have challenged State decisions on land allocation or ownership, and have sometimes blocked investments and works. Many of these challenges are brought before the courts, which rulings challenge the public control of irrigation schemes.
To address these challenges, the ONAHA, with the support of GWI, has conducted since 2014 a process to experiment, formalise and then generalise a process to secure land tenure for existing and future irrigation schemes in Niger. This aims not only to preserve and formally recognise the State's rights over irrigation schemes, but also the rights of farmers: the former is achieved by establishing a formal legal status for developed lands through their registration and issuing a land title in the name of the State, and the latter by clarifying and protecting the rights of use of farmers by updating their occupancy contract and registering them on the land title.
This guide sets out in detail this approach and the conditions to be met, from setting up the operational teams responsible for securing the schemes to issuing contracts to farmers and registering them. Aimed primarily at the national and regional teams of ONAHA and the Directorate General for Rural Engineering, it aims to facilitate the field implementation and spreading of land securing operations on existing irrigation schemes in Niger for the benefit of the State and farmers.
Please note that this document is available in French only.
A series of templates and tools designed to help in the conduct of land security operations can be downloaded here [in French only].