Niger is characterized by political instability, which has led to conflicts and food security crises. The country is one of the poorest in the world, and in 2003 agriculture accounted for 17% of the total GDP. Approximately 83% of the population is rural, and 60% of it does not have access to safe drinking water.
Niger’s constitution recognizes the right of all individuals to own property, and the Rural Code sets forth a number of objectives, including the increase of land tenure security, better management of rural land, the promotion of a more sustainable use and management of natural resources. Customary law regulates all types of land and generally reflects the influence of Sharia Law.
Most common causes of land conflicts in Niger are intra-family disputes, conflicts between pastoralists and sedentary farmers and conflicts between villagers and traditional chiefs over land access and use. Many disputes were raised after the Land Code was passed, as it allows the registration of customary rights but it does not specify which rights can be effectively recognized. Dispute resolution is assigned to local administrative institutions, the formal court system and traditional institutions.