Natural Resources Regeneration and Land Tenure Conflicts in the Timbuktu Area: PVO-NGO/NRMS Project
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The administrative circle of Timbuktu is located at the bend of the Niger River in Northern Mali. Since the early 1970s, local pastoralists and agriculturalists have concentrated their economic activities along the banks of the Niger River. This area is considered to have significant potential for intensified agriculture. The Niger River valley, where different ethnic groups have long co-existed, has become the vital subsistence area for the region. This demographic concentration has created intense competition for land located along the Niger River. The volume of disputes brought before judicial and administrative tribunals attests to this fact. Competition appears at numerous levels both within and between groups. Competition has emerged within families and sedentary villages or nomadic groups (known as 'fractions'). It has emerged between villages and fractions, between urban and rural people, between the government and its citizens. Furthermore, competing groups appeal to different mechanisms for conflict resolution: customary institutions, legal institutions and Islamic institutions. Implementers of natural resources regeneration (NRR) activities must take into account the pressures described above when designing their activities. As NRR activities increase in the Timbuktu area, more conflicts over terrestrial and aquatic resources will arise. This analysis highlights the relationship between NRR activities within the dynamic land tenure context of Timbuktu. The analysis begins with a description of the status of land on which NRR activities are implemented, as well as the prevailing management rules applying to these lands. The second part records the opinions of people living along the river concerning factors blocking NRR activities. And the final section of the analysis lays out proposals to invigorate NRR activities in the Timbuktu area.