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Decentralisation and right to housing in rural Mali: the prevention of possible harm




AMADE (Association Malienne pour le Développement, Mali organisation for development) was created in 1983. It was the first organisation in Mali. Its actions, which have taken different shapes, are mainly directed at communities living in rural areas. The promotion of basic rights are the core of every interventions. Realising that decentralisation would eventually create important land issues, including harming the indigenous population\’s right to housing, AMADE undertook a number of preventive actions. As in all areas of land law in Mali, access to housing is submitted to two legal systems which are often in opposition: modern law, the law of the state, formalised and based on the private appropriation of the land; and customary law, adaptable and based on collective rights. While property law dominates in urban areas, thus allowing a minority of citizens to have access to housing, rural areas are ruled by customary law where all the members of a community enjoy the right to housing. Since decentralisation, Mali has been made up of 703 regions (\"communes\"), among which 683 rural regions (\"communes rurales\"). The law passed on 16 October 1996 (No 96 050) defined the land attributed to the regions. Thus, this law covers lands where customary law applied. Therefore the regions have to refer to the land code which establishes the right to appropriation as the principle for access to housing. Customary rights have thus become precarious and only apply when the new regional authorities have not expressed any particular needs. Land being the main source for revenues for these authorities, it is likely that they will sell the land under their jurisdiction to get money. The rural communities being extremely poor, only a few entrepreneurs or public servants will be able to afford these lands (either for farming or for housing). The demographic growth being very important in rural areas, in a few decades, the indigenous population could be homeless and transformed into farm workers, since all the land would have been sold by the authorities. Faced with those risks, AMADE is developing the following strategies in its zones of intervention: - systematic raising-awareness missions directed at 100 regional counsellors (conseillers communaux) on the danger of attributing land in an abusive way; - the promotion of mediation for solving land disputes in 8 regions. Mediation leads to finding an \"internal\" decision accepted by all the parties to a dispute, as opposed to a judicial decision which imposes an \"external\" solution, often ill-adapted and non-lasting; - the training of 52 village paralegals on the land code so that they understand all the elements at stake (and the dangers) in this text and are able to share this knowledge with their communities; - the reinforcement of the lobbying capacities of 50 grass-root organisations so that they are able to influence the regional authorities in the management of rural land and/or participate in the drafting of housing policies. Finally, the core strategy of AMADE for the communities\’ access to land and housing, remains to encourage and consolidate the implication of local groups in the issues of their environment. Local groups include strong and trained community organisations which have the capacity to prevent local authorities from dilapidating community goods such as land.


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Mots-cl�s Droit au logement - Droit coutumier - Parajuriste -

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