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Activists Want to Give Communities more of a Say in Land Distribution

Many an investor has taken the road east from Freetown, the capital, into the heart of Sierra Leone seeking land for plantations or mines. Their journey invariably takes them to the door of a local chief. A system based on private land titles reaches no farther inland than the salty sea air.So, it goes in many parts of Africa, where roughly three-quarters of land is under customary ownership. In theory, that means it is managed by communities in line with tradition. But there is no consensus about how that should work in practice. Which community? Whose tradition? Should decisions be made by chiefs, families or individuals?.