NES Malawi wants to speed up implementation of the country’s 2017 land law
The winds of change are blowing in Malawi’s land governance sector. But not as fast as the country hoped for. Three years have passed since the country voted into law a progressive land legislation but the land justices it promised to solve remains. The laws, for example, promised redistribution of power and resources from the few to the many who live on and off the land. Yet it seems to have enabled chiefs to tighten their grip on power. Additionally, delays in the implementation of the law have denied tenure security to many vulnerable people who depend on land for their livelihoods.
At the time when the country is grappling with turning commitment into practices through the actual implementation of its progressive laws, a multi-stakeholder platform that influenced legislators to adopt the law is repurposing its strategy.
The platform, the National Engagement Strategy (NES), Malawi which brings together both state and non-state actors want to fast track the implementation of the legislative gains that can foster tenure security for all and improve development.
After three years of working with the government and other actors to foster people-centred land governance in the country, it has now developed a new strategy. On March 6 2020, the platform launched its new Country Strategy at Ufulu Gardens in Lilongwe. The Country Strategy is a three-year action plan, which addresses land-related priorities in the country. The launch allowed platform members to discuss with the public about their network structure and how the new strategy is going to bring about transformative change in Malawi.
During the exchange, Mr Dickens Mahwayo, NES Steering Committee Chairperson, highlighting the objectives and goals of the NES Country Strategy 2019-2021. He said the strategy will connect and mobilise land actors to work to facilitate participatory and inclusive land governance in Malawi.
Mr, Duncan Chione, Director of Administration at the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development attended the launch on the behalf of the Minister. In his official remarks, he highlighted the need for a vigilant and active civil society network and a well informed and resourced public institutions as well as actionable research from the academia; and an alert media fuelling the land debate in the country.
Since NES Malawi was a key partner in the reform process that ended with strong legislation in 2017, he urged actors in the NES Malawi platform to work together to support the implementation of the land reform process because it is a shared goal.
NES Malawi made youth and women part of its work in its previous strategy. In the new, it is giving them increased space to engage in policy processes. The event also brought together youth and women groups like the Mzimba Youth Organisation and the Dowa women forum. Here, the organisations showcased their skills via drama and sketches on women and youth access to land and products of past NES activities. At the end of the event, participants agreed to work together towards people-centred land governance.
WHAT IS NES MALAWI
The NES platform offers a space above sectoral differences for dialogue among various actors such as government agencies, civil society organisations, academia, traditional leadership and donor agencies. The platform also provides space to channel those difference into productive and complimentary use for greater effect.