By Caitlin Allmaier
The Millennium Challenge Corporation’s 5-year compact with the Government of Burkina Faso concluded in July and has set the stage for the next chapter in Burkinabè agricultural development. The compact focused on the reduction of poverty and the stimulation of economic growth through strategic investment, with one of four projects focusing on improving rural productivity through land tenure security and environmentally-sound land management. However, some issues related to land rights and tenure remain.
Burkina Faso’s economy is mainly agrarian, with 85 percent of Burkinabè carving out livelihoods in agriculture, livestock rearing, or forestry. Traditional Burkinabè methods of land tenure place great authority in the hands of a chef de terre, who allocates community-accepted land and establishes a colloquial model of plot ownership. However, the efficacy of such a system has been challenged by Burkinabè officials, who have repeatedly facilitated international industrial agricultural investment to attempt to improve livelihoods and spur economic growth. These actions have had the unforeseen consequence of further marginalizing smallholders as well as jeopardizing the long-term health of land, soil, and water resources.