Community Land Protection in Liberia: The Impact on Neocustomary Norms and Institutions

Published in: Annual World Bank Land and Poverty Conference

Is it possible to change property rights norms, even when changes affect the position of powerful constituencies? In this paper, we explore the effects of external changes to informal property rights institutions using a quasi-experimental evaluation of an intervention designed to protect community land and promote the rights of vulnerable groups, including women, in the West African nation of Liberia. We focus on the effect of the Community Land Protection Program (CLPP), an intervention that seeks to empower communities to successfully protect communal land rights, but that also emphasizes full participation of women and other previously excluded groups. We use two rounds of survey data collected in 2014 and 2017 from 43 communities and find evidence that while some behaviors and norms prove persistent over time, others do shift as a result of an outside intervention.

Key Words: Land governance, Communal property rights, Women’s property rights, Neocustomary norms, Institutions