That’s a wrap for day three at this year’s Africa Land Forum. From family farming and resilient food systems to rangelands management and data in land governance, it was another packed day of sessions. Here are some of the key moments.
1. How do we recalibrate through a crisis?
COVID-19 is “a pandemic of hunger” said Laurel Oettle, and the immediate impact of the crisis revealed the fragility and limits of African food systems, laying bare worrying inequalities in food access. Almost half the South Africa’s population went hungry in April 2020, with 47% of households running out of food, and women going hungry in order to feed their children.
“But the pandemic offers us a critical opportunity to rethink and recalibrate our domestic food systems,” argues Oettle.
This means drawing together two key issues that must be central in Africa’s food systems in order to enable local production by smallholder farmers: (1) equitable access to sufficient land, and (2) water access for family health, to boost production, and ensure food safety.
Laurel Oettle works with LandNNES, an ILC member, and in practical terms, LandNNES is focusing on how to support small-scale and agroecological farmers to establish the sustainable, localized, agile, short value-chain food systems that are largely absent in our commercialized, centralized food system, Oettle explained. “This is to enable greater access to affordable, nutritious food, not only during this immediate crisis, but beyond,” she said.
2. We must build resilient food systems now!
Complementary to Oettle’s presentation, Amy Coughenour Betancourt opened her session by revealing worrying statistics on food systems: “Before COVID-19 690 million people suffered from hunger and undernourishment. One in every four people lack access to nutritious food.”
“Women and girls make up 60% of this population. COVID could increase this by 130 million. That means severe food insecurity could affect 270 million by year’s end—an 82% increase. In West and Central Africa, food insecurity is up 90%. Before COVID, the increasing prevalence of undernourishment was twice the world average.”
And what to do? Land rights, climate-smart agriculture and women’s empowerment will lead to a regenerative food system, which in turn will deliver increased tenure security, more economic opportunities and improved health and well-being.
3. Where is land in the SDGs, NUA and Agenda 2063?
Here’s a list from Clinton Omusola at breakout session 2, in answer to that question:
- SDGs: Goals 1- Poverty Eradication, 2- Food Security and Nutrition, 5- Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls, 11- Sustainable Cities and Communities, 15- Life on Land and 16- Peace and Prosperity.
- NUA: Land use and governance issues, especially tenure security, prominently feature in the NUA and are cited as critical building blocks in the attainment of sustainable urbanization and related development.
- Agenda 2063 Envisions: (1) Eradication of poverty in the coming decades; (2) All Africans having decent and affordable housing in clean, secure and well-planned environments; (3) Consolidating the modernization of African agriculture and agro-businesses; (4) Supporting young people as drivers of Africa’s renaissance.
4. Challenges before data for land governance
Nearly all the presenters of the day spoke of the importance of data in land governance. Here is a summary of the challenges they see in achieving this:
First, the lack – or limitations – of data in many institutions on land tenure, especially on the perception of land tenure security; second, sensitivity and emotiveness on land governance issues that lead to slow buy-in on data collection initiatives from governments.
Also different levels of technological advancement at country levels impeding admin data; fourth, the assumption that legal frameworks would guarantee land ownership and tenure security, therefore relegating data to a second tier approach.
Finally, funding challenges, and COVID-19 hindering primary data collection.
5. Beyond challenges, many opportunities
The above challenges are not insurmountable, argue Forum participants. Opportunities abound for harnessing data for land governance in Africa.
Among these opportunities, the availability of several relevant household surveys, for comparative analysis, and the opportunity that agriculture and pastoralism, key drivers of Africa’s economy, provide.
In addition, the interest of African governments in technological advancement and data collection, opening a window of opportunity for land governance data, was mentioned.
Ibrahima Ka, moderator at breakout session 2, at the closing plenary declared, “the best advocacy is that based on data.”
6. Any place for youth in rangelands management?
The participants in breakout session 1 asked Daniel Ouma many questions after his presentation on rangelands management in Tanzania. “Is there any place for the youth in your project?” asked a participant.
“The youth are at the centre of the project,” said Daniel Ouma. “They ensure the security of the grazing land, they take care of the livestock, and even protect the environment from ecological degradation,” Ouma said.
Ouma recalled that rangelands management is “ecologically specific”, and requires “biological survey” especially on “what kind of investment the population wants.”
He then gave a clearer view of the scenario: “Village land belongs to the local government. All we do is help the community secure their land. We do not entrust ownership to them.”
“Much of the success depends on how the community is organized,” Ouma said.
7. A view from the chat box on the draft Declaration
After Shadrack Omondi read the joint draft Declaration at the end of the Forum, and as Nsama Chikolwa of the African Union declared the three-day virtual event closed, a participant tweeted in the chat box:
“I…really appreciate the [second] point of the Declaration which encourages ‘sensitization’ and ‘awareness’ on land law procedures for rural people, to better know and understand ‘their laws.’
“The [more] they know them, the [better] they will follow them and benefit from them. This… I think is an important responsibility [vested on organizations] and land law defenders.”