Journal Article

Land tenure, food security, gender and urbanization in Northern Ghana

Links between land tenure and food and nutritional insecurity are receiving increased attention. Nevertheless,
urban and periurban dwellers face challenges in accessing land to produce food for subsistence and sale. An
ethnographic study and food and nutrition insecurity survey were conducted between October 2013 and
November 2014 in Tamale, Northern Region of Ghana, to explore the dynamic and recursive links between land
access, food access and the ability to maintain resources to meet long-term needs. Results showed that infra structural development and agriculture compete for land. The shortage of land for agricultural purposes was
pronounced in urban areas (20%) than in periurban areas (1.3%) and rural areas (0%). Food insecure households
were more likely to name a lack of land than anything else as the primary reason for their inability to grow crops
(Fisher’s exact probability = 0.040). Urban and periurban dwellers cope with the constraints posed in the
communal tenure system by using strategies such as urban–periurban-rural migrant farming and buffer zone
cultivation. The role of women in providing nutritious soups is especially important, and they use various
mechanisms to circumvent their lack of access to land and provide food for the household. Political, economic
and cultural elements thus interact to constitute the link between land and food.