South Sudan

Land Tenure in South Sudan: Does it Promote Climate Change Resilience?


Authors: Nhial Tiitmamer, Augustino Ting Mayai, Nyathon Hoth Mai

Dates : March 1, 2017

Publication Summary

Land tenure systems have implications for food security, access to water, natural resources, pastures and settlement during droughts and flood disasters. Although the South Sudanese Land Act 2009 recognizes both formal and customary land tenure systems, little is known in practice about the extent to which these systems promote climate change resilience in the country. Drawing upon prior work and primary data, we found the following:

The 2009 Land Act has clauses intended to promote climate resilience. For example, customary land tenure permits communal land rights, customary seasonal access rights and access through social relationships, which allow climate change resilience. In addition, the Act enhances land tenure security through survey, demarcation and registration. However, these articles have barely been implemented. Only about one quarter of the urban areas has been surveyed and registered. In addition, these resilience features are undermined by decreases in social capital linked to large-scale rural-urban migration, abject poverty, and communal conflicts that erode inter-communal relationships that serve to accommodate displaced persons during disasters.

Statutory and customary land laws grant women rights to use, control, own, rent, lease and sell, inherit from husbands, and protection (see table 3). However, these legal arrangements limit women to share with the husbands after divorce and to inherit land from paternal family.

Climate displaced persons are treated differently from conflict displaced persons because climate induced shocks such as floods are viewed as temporary disasters and the victims often return to their land a few weeks or months after the disaster. However, while climate induced displacements are temporary, they have become more frequent, happening almost every year since 2007 (see table 2).
The government ought to fully strengthen and implement land tenure laws to ensure (1) land is fully surveyed and registered, (2) communal reciprocal system is enhanced through dialogues, (3) boundaries are properly demarcated, and (4) land management measures are fully deployed, both at the rural and urban levels, to enhance resilience to climate extremes.