Land governance in Africa is fraught with many challenges, often linked to competition from public authorities, private investors, domestic and foreign religious leaders, and family farms
The situation is exasperated by diverse tenure rights which are often confusing and prone to manipulation, leading to massive land grabbing on the continent. The vast majority of rural people in Africa, including small-scale farmers and pastoralists, access land and natural resources based on customary tenure which is often informal with no official land registry. Informal land administration in rural areas opens the door to abuses by governments, local elites, and the private sector due to the lack of transparency and accountability for land rights.
Fortunately, in an effort to remedy these abuses, harmonisation of land laws is ongoing in many African countries, focusing on six key sectors: women’s access to land; customary tenure including security of tenure; natural resources; large-scale land investments; transparency and accountability in land governance; and monitoring, evaluation and impact of land policies. The push is strengthened by Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and bilateral partners, including African Union Commission (AUC), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, African Development Bank (AfDB), Network of Excellence on Land Governance in Africa (NELGA), and Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD).
ILC’s INCLUSIVE DECISION-MAKING COMMITMENT-BASED INITIATIVE
Commitment-Based Initiatives (CBIs) are regional mechanisms through which ILC Africa members engage with each other to advance change at cross-country level, developing partnerships and common strategies on one or more of ILC’s 10 Commitments, which focus on specific themes and aspects of land governance. These initiatives involve members across countries, and complement and link to existing ILC national platforms.
CBI 7 ensures that processes of decision-making over land are inclusive, so that policies, laws, procedures, and decisions concerning land adequately reflect the rights, needs, and aspirations of individuals and communities who will be affected by them. This requires the empowerment of those who otherwise would face limitations in representing their interests, particularly through support to land users and other civil society organisations (CSOs) that are best able to inform, mobilise, and legitimately represent marginalised land users and their participation in multi-stakeholder platforms for policy dialogue.
In Johannesburg in 2013, South African ILC members resolved to work towards the construction of a dynamic platform to engage African Union and other RECs on land and gender. This initiative was entrusted to CICODEV Senegal as the host. In March 2014, the CBI 7 platform was launched in Dakar, Senegal bringing together ILC members, international organisations established in Africa, including women’s organisations, development NGOs, community organisations, and consumer associations.
WHAT IS THE OBJECTIVE?
The goal of CBI 7 is to achieve an Africa where decision making processes are participative, ensuring that policies, laws, procedures and land decisions at regional and continental levels reflect the rights of the communities and individuals living on and from the land.
WHAT ACTIONS DO WE TAKE?
The members of CBI 7 will:
- Produce new thematic advocacy documents, as well as updating existing themes, to be used for engagement with Heads of State and Governments to ensure accurate and impactful knowledge sharing for advocacy efforts;
- Strengthen information sharing, synergies, and coordination between various ILC platforms to allow for a better understanding of common concerns felt by ILC members that can be brought to the attention of regional and continental bodies;
- Obtain observer status with regional and continental bodies, including the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Development Bank, to better exercise influence on human rights issues, especially land rights.
Additionally, in 2019, ILC provided funding to CBI 7, working in conjunction with Africa Land Policy Centre’s Civil Society Platform (CSP), to carry out a study on African-wide progress on land policies. The conclusions and recommendations of the study will serve as a basis to build advocacy towards removing the constraints to effective implementation of the agenda of African heads of state on land.
WHERE DO WE WORK?
Cameroon, DRC, Madagascar, Malawi, Senegal, Tanzania, and Togo
In 2018, the initiative produced six thematic papers on Monitoring, Evaluation, and Impact; Customary Land and Tenure Security; Land Governance for Effective Natural Resource Management; Women’s Land Rights; Large-scale Land-based Investments; and Transparency and Accountability. These papers have been instrumental for members championing inclusive land governance in Africa. For example, in Kenya, ILC members have used the Customary Land and Tenure Security paper during engagements with the government as they implement the new customary land law originally passed in 2018.
The major stakeholders include: Innovation Environnement et Développement en Afrique (IED), Oxfam International, Institute for Conscious Global Change, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), and Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Hosted by Institut Panafricain pour la Citoyenneté, les Consommateurs et le Développement (CICODEV), other platform members include: Civil Society Coalition on Land (CICOL), LandNet Malawi, Centre Béninois pour l’Environnement et le Développement Économique et Social (CEBEDES), Tanzania Natural Resources Forum (TNRF), Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development (RISD), Nkuzi, Associacao Rural de Ajuda Mutua (ORAM), Mao Community Forestry Association (MACOFA), Association pour la Paix et les Droits de l’Homme (APDH), Fiantso, Resource Conflict Institute (RECONCILE), Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR), Uganda Land Alliance (ULA), Safire, Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association (MBOSCUDA), Environment Liaison Centre International (ELCI), and Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF).