In practice, property rights in many developing countries reflect a diversity of tenure regimes. Customary regimes based on local traditions, institutions, and power structures such as chiefdoms and family lineages may exist alongside the formal legal tenure system sanctioned by the state. Customary tenure systems have evolved and adapted over time to meet the needs of community members, and they continue to do so in response to modern-day pressures (Elbow et al. 1998:10). This includes the introduction of more individualized property rights arrangements in traditional communal arrangements.
A rural community’s customary tenure system is often composed of several different kinds of tenure, each of which defines different rights and responsibilities for the use of diverse resources. Clear individual or household rights are generally allocated for more or less exclusive use of arable and residential land, while group rights may prevail for use of pastures, forests, mountain areas, waterways, and sacred areas (Rukuni 1999:2).
But customary tenure systems today do not exist independently. They inevitably live in relationship