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Title:Why De Soto's ideas might triumph everywhere but in Kenya: a review of land-tenure policies among Maasai pastoralists
Author:Rutten, MarcelISNI
Book title:Inside poverty and development in Africa: critical reflections on pro-poor policies
Geographic term:Kenya
Abstract:A lack of easily understandable, formal property rights, Peruvian scholar Hernando De Soto argues, explains why people in developing countries have not been able to transform their (natural) resources into productive capital. His claim has been welcomed by national and international policymakers struggling to improve developing countries' economies over the last fifty years. This chapter is based on longitudinal research carried out among Maasai pastoralists in Kajiado District, Kenya, since the late 1980s. It surveys the evolution of landownership in the Maasai area in four major periods from the arrival of the British and the formation of Maasai reserves (1890-1920) to the formation of group ranches in 1963-1980 and the dissolution of group ranches and individualization of landownership since the 1980s. The findings seriously question De Soto's claims that formalized property rights will result in investments, the sustainable use of resources and, ultimately, wealth creation. By contrast, the opposite effect might be the rule in cases where key conditions such as reasonable interest rates, the trustworthiness of the land register, a friendly natural environment and security are not met, resulting in serious poverty for former property holders. Bibliogr., notes, sum. [Book abstract]