There exists a dual land tenure system in Sierra Leone. A freehold tenure regime operated in Western Area, co-exists with a customary land tenure that covers the provinces. The freehold system facilitates development of a cash economy; the customary system has been identified to inhibit the modernization of the large rural agrarian economic landscape. International development organizations strongly advocate land policy reforms to address such circumstances in Africa. Whilst some countries have made appreciable strides in that regard, Sierra Leone has not. A sound knowledge and exposition of the existing nature of customary land tenure system is imperative for appropriate policy re-orientation. The primary objective of this paper is to make a contribution to that need. It does so by exploring and identifying the structural features of the system at the various levels of governance in Sierra Leone. The situation in Bombali District gives a reflection of the local level circumstances. Information was sourced through unrefined search using keywords through JSTOR, Google Scholar, and Research gate as well as the KNUST research repository that yielded results from journals, book chapters, research papers and reports. The customary land tenure system, dominated by powerful autocratic traditional authorities, is an impediment to land access for investment in infrastructure, farm and non-farm economic activity. The difficult access is worse for women who constitute the bulk of the population. The consequences include food insecurity, unemployment and various elements that manifest in poverty. Land reforms are indispensable for development progress in Sierra Leone.
Key words: Land, land tenure, Sierra Leone, land governance
Copyright © 2022 Author(s) retain the copyright of this article.
This article is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0