Land and decentralisation in Senegal

May 2008
Jacques Faye (IIED Drylands Issue Paper 149)

Land and decentralisation policies in Senegal have been closely linked since independence in 1960. Public lands are currently managed by the local governments of municipalities and rural communities, with the latter responsible for the land and natural resources in unprotected parts of their territory, and the former empowered to issue building permits. The law also provides opportunities for rural communities, municipalities and regions to be involved in managing special areas such as classified forests, national parks and protected spaces, thereby recognising that land and natural resources cannot be managed effectively unless the communities concerned are engaged in the process through their local governments. Popular participation depends on several factors: how far the central government and administration are prepared to go in involving local people and local governments, and therefore what rights they grant them; the competences and resources available to communities; and the human and financial resources that local governments can call upon in order to fulfil their roles. Explores these issues and discusses their effect on decentralisation and land management in Senegal.