The National Engagement Strategy (NES) in DRC is a process set in motion by the International Land Coalition (ILC) that led to the establishment and strengthening of a consultative multi-stakeholder platform.
It brings together ILC members and other stakeholders to promote people centred land governance. Its stakeholders work to create a positive environment to catalyse political change and support the implementation of passed legislations in the country.
In March 2019, NES DRC convened around fifty people representing administrators, sectorial partners, academic institutions, national and international organisations, civil society organisations and traditional authorities to discuss land tenure in the country in the city of Kinshasa. The meeting was a conclusion of a series of consultations the platform held at provincial and local levels with a range of actors on the situation of land governance in the country. The objectives of the dialogue meeting included, to mobilise national stakeholders on the ongoing land reform process and to develop a strategy for the NES DRC platform.
Why ILC strengthens platforms
ILC’s work in the country in the past half-decade has focused on securing indigenous forest people’s rights, fighting against land grabbing, protecting land defenders and promoting women’s land rights. In its effort, it supported and strengthened a range of stakeholders to promote its vision.
During the meeting, Alain Christian Essimi Biloa, representative from ILC secretariat in his presentation highlighted the importance of a strong multi-stakeholder inclusive platform. For example, he illustrated how members of NES DRC could use the platform to promote land governance, increase the participation of women in land administration processes and defend the rights of communities who live on and off the land.
“ILC wants to be a catalyst for change,” he said.
In its new operating model, it brings together several platforms including NES and Commitment Based Initiatives (CBI) to give the platforms an opportunity of influencing land reforms and achieving a people-centred land governance across countries.
State of land governance and use for Indigenous People
The big opportunity that exists in DRC is that large areas of land are not yet legally mapped to specific uses. This, therefore, offers the country a chance to develop an inclusive land reform and put in place a land governance system that leaves no one behind.
Angélique Mbelu, the Facilitator of the DRC NES multi-stakeholder platform, discussed the importance of transparent management in the land sector. In her intervention in the sharing, she insisted that proper land mapping guidelines can easily be implemented through stakeholder consultations, inclusive information sharing and accountability.
Diel Mochire, from the Programme d’Intégration et de D éveloppement du Peuple Pygmée (PIDP) brought the question of Indigenous Peoples’ inclusion to the table. In his remark, he discussed the constraints the Pygmy people face to access and use land and urged parties to press for the inclusion of their voices in the ongoing reform process. Mr Diel, who is also Indigenous, encouraged stakeholders to influence policies that allow the Indigenous Pygmy people of DRC to own and use land.
The case of land conflicts
The meeting also opened debates on land conflicts and land grabbing. One cause of land conflicts identified by delegates is when judicial and administrative powers deny people access to land, while at the same time giving access to the influential and politically connected. Mr Innocent Lokamba a land expert from Environnement, Ressources Naturelles et Développement (ERND) discussing the issue said eviction without compensation is an injustice that is also driving conflicts.
He also highlighted the role ERND has been playing to monitor land conflicts in the Equateur region. Citing case studies in his presentation, Lokamba noted that the government must take the opportunity of the reform to secure Indigenous People’s land rights and enact laws that can end years of land injustices observed in the country.
Recommendations and way forward
The meeting ended with a series of recommendations targeted towards improving the land reform process. One key recommendation touched on the harmonisation of the national cadastre system. On it, participants declared that both state and non-state actors could work together to share information. Maps and cartographies could be shared in an open access system to enrich the land information system.
Another recommendation touched on the need for increased collaboration between different administrative blocs and the process of securing land rights. This kind of collaboration would enhance better understanding of the different legal systems in place and avoid overlaps.
Finally, the workshop provided important information coalesced from provincial consultations with state and non-state actors on land governance in the country. This information is being used by NES DRC to create a multi-stakeholder country strategy on land.