PRADD II Diagnostic of Land and Conflict in Artisanal Diamond Mining Communities – FRENCH

This document was developed for the European Union, which is a co-funding the Property Rights and Artisanal Diamond Development II (PRADD II) project in Cote d’Ivoire. The document is in French, although the Executive Summary has been translated as follows:

The present report offers an assessment of land and conflict dynamics in the mining communities of Séguéla and Tortiya, Côte d’Ivoire, including the types and causes of land-related conflict and existing mechanisms for conflict resolution. This component was financed through the European Union’s contribution to the land and conflict diagnostic that took place as part of the land rights formalization activity of the Property Rights and Artisanal Diamond Development II (PRADD II) project. PRADD II aims to increase the volume of Côte d’Ivoire’s legally exported diamonds while improving livelihoods of artisanal mining communities. Through participatory research in 10 villages around Séguéla with different resource user groups, the diagnostic revealed several dimensions of land management that had implications for conflict mitigation and prevention, including those outlined below.

Land is entirely managed under traditional and customary practices, with laws and regulations little understood and rarely applied. The main land management principle in the targeted villages is that land can never be bought and sold. There is a unique definition of a land rights owner: the first occupant and his family, as determined in the village by a customary land manager called “chef de terre.” He acts as guarantor of land governance and supervises land transmission within autochthonous families and with non-autochthonous communities (organized into foreign-born and non-native communities): donation, land rent, land pledging, other land use, and land users. Villages were created around this principle, and it contributed to developing ties between different communities. However, customary and traditional land management practices exclude most of the land users from land-related decision-making process—especially women and non-autochthonous people. As a result, non-autochthonous inhabitants (who constitute the majority of inhabitants in the mining communities of Séguéla and Tortiya) accept the principle, but as they have been installed for decades on land there, mainly adding value to land through farming, they could claim some rights on the land. This land management principle has led to open conflicts between community groups or within communities, between actors of the same production system (holders of exploitation permit), or even between actors of various production systems (artisanal miners and farmers).

Several conflicts have been identified between: i) artisanal miners and farmers on use of land for their activities; ii) farmers and livestock raisers; and iii) villages (to a lesser extent), especially in regard to villages boundaries. Côte d’Ivoire’s existing land legislation is little known and rarely applied, and some contradictions can be highlighted as it intends to create more rights among land users, while at the same time validating the inequalities in customary tenure. PRADD II interventions could support communities in analyzing the inequities arising from this system (especially toward women and the non-autochthonous) and searching for solutions to reduce it. If the land rights formalization process can survive the pressures raised by existing social and economic realities, this new land legislation constitutes a unique opportunity to implement registration of oral agreements stemming from customary practices. This could serve as a basis for strengthening the legislation and land use planning both in Séguéla and Tortiya.

Solid traditional and customary responses to land use-related conflicts exist in many of the villages. Conflicts identified within the mining communities between miners, farmers, and livestock raisers are all caused by the historical allocation of occupational rights. The encroachment by users of various systems of production (mining, farming, and livestock) on available land initially allocated for mining activities creates tensions and disputes. The territorial boundaries of villages are unclear to both communities and administrative authorities due to the expansion of land claims for cash crop farming and artisanal mining, layers of mining permits, and administrative delineation of regions structured according to political realities rather than to sociocultural ones. In Tortiya, this has led to open conflict between two communities who both claim ownership of places where both communities feel there is unlimited potential for finding diamonds. Formalization of land rights through PRADD II’s technical assistance could be an opportunity to reduce actual and potential conflicts, as well help communities and the state to define land use potential within and among villages. Community leaders and key resource persons are the main actors of local conflict management mechanisms. Their effectiveness could be consolidated by strengthening the capacity of these actors to be involved in the decision-making process around conflict management.

Livelihood diversification and promotion of economic growth are essential to overcome inequities arising from diamond mining. Both Séguéla and Tortiya have experienced an evolution and diversification of their main economic activities since the country was placed under the United Nations (UN) embargo on exporting Ivorian diamonds in 2005. Artisanal diamond mining has been replaced as a principal source of income by cash crop farming. Even though cash crop farming seems to be a more solid source of income because revenue is somewhat more predictable, artisanal mining communities are still attracted by the speculative aura of diamond mining. Rural development programs like PRADD II must consider this dynamic during program planning. To achieve project goals, PRADD II must be very careful to take into account these community needs and behaviors.

Regular consultation and communication involving all major stakeholders from the state (mining sector and land, agriculture, and animal resources ministries and divisions) and representatives of a wide spectrum of the local communities must occur on a regular basis. PRADD II is not a substitute for the coordination role of the state, but it brings together stakeholders with divergent interests. Through interventions on land tenure, the project provides an opportunity for an innovative collective planning and decision-making process in which stakeholders—especially the communities—are involved in all steps. The project contributes technical assistance to the state and local communications through legal education and assistance in land use planning. PRADD II can play a key role in helping these actors develop a strategic vision for the artisanal mining sector that would offer an opportunity to break the circle of poverty and build a common commitment to income diversification within the artisanal mining sector.

The conflict diagnosis provided for PRADD II is an overview of the conflict dynamics that surround the extraction of diamonds around Séguéla and Tortiya. The diagnosis also enables project staff to understand the expectations of the communities who, with the lifting of the UN embargo in April 2014, look forward to the revitalization of the sector’s activities. At this time, it is unclear what form (industrial or not) diamond mining will take and the implications for development in the affected communities. Several issues will have to be addressed, if not resolved, in the face of the embargo’s lifting: the legal status of the land and the rights to be exercised thereon; the new dynamics of land use and economic development related to cash crop production of cashews and cocoa; and the regulatory instruments structuring both agricultural and mining uses. The diagnosis therefore has highlighted a number of issues for the PRADD II project to address:

  1. How to reconcile the fact that the 1998 Rural Land Law strengthens an institution (customary) that excludes property rights for key land users such as non-autochthonous people and women.
  2. How to reconcile the objective of the 1998 Rural Land Law that ultimately is designed to replace the customary system with a statutory one, but that does not seem to address the complexity of the very diverse customary regimes.
  3. How to overcome the lack of public awareness of the 1998 Rural Land Law and the complex formalization process in order to avoid misinterpretation leading to further conflict.
  4. What intermediate options exist to formalize existing tenure agreements and conflict resolution practices in the communities without undermining the present land management system.
  5. How can PRADD II mitigate the risk of outbreaks of new conflicts among and with the Société pour le Développement Minier and diamond collectors, and between farmers and other land users during the resumption of mining activity following the lifting of the UN embargo?
  6. How to proceed to change, in an ethical manner, the principles of current land management in order to lead to the territorial delimitation process.

Several recommendations have been proposed in this report for consideration by PRADD II and its partners. While this conflict assessment sketched out the broad dynamics of the conflicts as we understand them, there is a need to delve deeper. The recommendations below should be viewed as a process to confront these conflict issues, but not solutions themselves.

  • Conduct additional in-depth conflict assessments to better understand the dynamics of land users marginalized by traditional and customary tenure (e.g., external migrants, women, other underprivileged people) in order to define intervention strategies and propose prevention and responses to tensions and conflicts involving all the main stakeholders.
  • Define a joint strategy for land rights formalization, combining customary practices, the 1998 Rural Land Law, and suggestions to overcome its limits by involving representatives of the ministries involved in mining and land issues. The common strategy should include a proposition to formalize unwritten land agreements.
  • Strengthen livelihood diversification initiatives in mining communities and establish protocols defining each step of project interventions with all the communities, ensuring participation of both men and women.
  • Identify and build the capacity of principal conflict management stakeholders while strengthening existing conflict resolution mechanisms to take into account the specificities of each community.
  • Support the establishment of a collaborative framework of various institutional stakeholders within government to analyze the current land laws, propose action plans to clarify land tenure while reducing land related-conflicts, and through this process, encourage revision of the laws based on the confrontation with local realities.

The PRADD II project has the advantage of working in a relatively small place to pilot initiatives that can inform the artisanal mining sector in Côte d’Ivoire. In light of the diversity of situations found in its project intervention sites, this is an opportunity to put in place a theory of change to test the proposition that the clarification and formalization tenure regimes can lead to the reduction of conflicts while contributing to increased investments in livelihoods by local communities.

Release Date: Thursday, July 17, 2014