The West African country of Benin lies between Nigeria and Togo and shares other land borders with Burkina Faso and Niger. Most of the 11.5 million Beninese live in the south of the country along the short coastline of the Bight of Benin. Approximately 50% of the population live in rural areas. Despite being one of Africa’s most stable democracies and annual economic growth averaging nearly 5% for several decades, Benin remains a poor country. GDP per capita was US$2,271 in 2017 and nearly 50% of the population lived on less than US$1.90 per day in 2015.
Like other former colonial nations, Benin’s land rights arrangements include aspects of customary and colonial statutory systems. Historically, most land in Benin has been customary land and occupants have had difficulties proving ownership due to a lack of formal documents. Past practices meant that vulnerable groups could be excluded from land ownership. There have been efforts to reform these systems over many years. These have included the Rural Landholding Law of 2007 which recognised customary rights in land as equal to civil law property rights and established written documents. Most recently, a new land law has been adopted in 2013 that aims to improve the definition of property rights and established the Agence Nationale du Domaine et du Foncier (ANDF), a national agency with responsibility for implementation of land policies.