A new report tells the story of how ILC Africa’s members displayed courage in advancing land governance—despite COVID-19 lockdowns and the regression of land rights due to social distancing
Read the ILC Africa Annual Report 2020
Nairobi, 24 May, 2021 – When Frederic Djinadja, the National Engagement Strategy facilitator in Togo, looks back on 2020, it brings happy memories of success in pushing for the adoption of Land Codes in his country.
“Our efforts made us a force to reckon with. Some institutions that previously turned their back on us now solicit us as a must-have partner.”
The National Engagement Strategy in Togo forced three decrees on Land Code to be adopted by the Council of Ministers. The first regulates the illegal occupation of public areas of the State; the second specifies the modalities of development for rural agricultural land; and the third simplifies the formalities for obtaining a land title.
These are among some of the outcomes discussed in ILC Africa’s 2020 report, Undeterred by COVID-19: in the defense of people-centred land governance. The report highlights how, despite COVID-19 lockdowns and the regression of land rights due to social distancing, ILC Africa’s members displayed courage in advancing laws and adjusting policies to reinstate people at the centre of land governance.
The National Engagement Strategies and Commitment Based Initiatives used digital platforms to voice concerns about women’s land rights before loss of financial autonomy. They changed three practices and nine policies in Liberia, Togo, South Africa, Cameroon, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Madagascar. ILC Africa members also gave a louder voice to youth about land governance, opening doors to new opportunities for land-related employment.
The report, which delves into some of the bitter struggles for land rights in 2020, notes that before the eviction of the Ogiek, Sengwer and Pygmy indigenous communities in East and Central Africa in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, ILC Africa mobilized its members and liaised with land rights defenders to advocate in favour of these vulnerable communities. In doing so, some ILC Africa members have put their lives at risk protecting indigenous populations.
These challenges notwithstanding, ILC Africa strengthened the capacity of its members in various countries by using LANDex, a global monitoring system dedicated to democratizing land data, to document COVID-related repression, violence and potential reprisals against land defenders.
ILC Africa regional coordinator, Audace Kubwimana, attributes much of the success to the use of technology in advancing land rights. “Having witnessed lockdowns and remote work, like the rest of the world, ILC Africa used digital platforms to execute excellent runs of regional and country-specific programs,” he said. “These consistently brought together many important National Engagement Strategy members and partners, including governments and intergovernmental organizations. This is a demonstration of the growing convening power of the region, and of its adaptation capacity.”
The report identifies positive impact in other priority areas: (a) the contribution of land in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa; (b) the demographic reach of ILC Africa’s activities, and (c) the commitment distribution in percentage.
Through its members, ILC Africa’s work reached an estimated total of 100,000 direct beneficiaries, resulting in: increase in women participation in ILC Africa processes from 32.6% in 2019 to 46.6% in 2020, and increase in youth voices in ILC Africa platforms from 10% in 2019 to 32.2% in 2020.
“It’s an excellent report,” said Mike Taylor, Director of ILC Secretariat at IFAD. “I hope it will get a wide distribution.”
With this posture, ILC Africa members are ready to embrace ILC’s new 2022-2030 Strategy, for even richer outcomes.