Skip to main content

Ali Kaba


Ali Kaba is a Ph.D. student at American University. His research interest focuses on customary land governance, land tenure reforms, and sustainable natural resource management. Ali previously served as a Senior Researcher at the Sustainable Development Institute, a Liberian-based NGO. He has worked with a wide variety of national and international institutions, including the Liberian Government and State governments in Nigeria. Ali played a key role in the development of Liberia’s Land Rights Law. He has authored several policy briefs, articles, and co-authored two books on customary land formalization. Ali earned a master’s degree in international development from the University of Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.

Research Gate:


Clash of the Global in the Local: Custom, representation, and access to land in Jigawa, Nigeria.

Across Africa, land and natural-resource access is increasingly achieved through formal registration of customary land. Registration reforms are largely driven by international neoliberal agendas and government interests in promoting agricultural production, employment, and national development. In Jigawa, Nigeria, ‘traditional’ leaders, such as district heads and emirs are being influenced by the state elites to take up the neoliberal agenda. Meanwhile, local social movements are emerging to resist the ‘traditional’ powers that are open to these externally imposed changes. Women’s groups and youth social forums are challenging the logic of traditional decision making – as the traditional decision makers, who are neither representative nor accountable to the population, are making decisions in opposition to local needs and aspirations. The women’s groups are supported by external transnational actors, while the youth forums were established by young people who observed similar movements elsewhere. There is a clash of global forces playing out among local players, especially when it comes to managing and utilizing land and natural resources. Against a backdrop of neoliberal agricultural restructuring of rural spaces and livelihoods through enclosures of community lands and natural resources, this article examines how women groups and youth forums have taken actions to resist land and resource grabs in Jigawa’s Kafin Hausa District. The article situates these efforts within the framework of local agency, discourse, and solidarity movements to promote equitable social change. The study is part of a growing body of research on land reform, customary governance, and decentralization in Africa.


Affiliation: American University, USA