Indigenous resource tenure systems in Africa have evolved to meet the constraints and opportunities of often difficult biophysical environments, while facilitating the operation of complex spatial and temporal land use patterns. Traditional systems provide security of tenure in culturally relevant ways that permit adaptation to new circumstances. On the other hand imposed tenure structures in Africa have often not strengthened individual rights and have often blocked indigenous tenure development and adaptation in response to new situations.
Pastoralists in Africa have in particular been negatively impacted by the imposition of national tenure systems which in many cases have served to marginalize nomadic populations, with repercussions in land degradation, food security, and instability.
In Somalia the transient resource rights and resource use arrangements that are critical to transhumant pastoralism were ignored in the formulation of the national tenure regime which favored crop cultivation. The results were increased land degradation, resource use conflicts, declines in pastoral production, and impacts on Somali clan alliances which in many cases regulate rational resource access and use.
Somalia posses the greatest proportion of pastoralists in Africa. Transhumant pastoralism, as the most widespread agricultural enterprise in the country, will play a critical role in food production for the foreseeable future. However the relationship between indigenous pastoralist tenure and state imposed tenure, has in many locations decreased the ability of pastoralism to reproduce itself, thereby compromising the rational utilization of very large areas of rangeland interior, which have very few alternative uses.