Africa Land Forum 2020 proves to be inclusive, attracting various organisations and hubs, answering critical questions on how to improve land governance in Africa
1. “Africa is showing a good example here.”
When the moderator, Dr Chiekh Ba, was given the floor to drive the proceedings of Africa Land Forum 2020, he named the digital event a good instance of how the continent is showing a good example: “We live in difficult times, driven by COVID-19, but we are not beaten down; we have not stopped our efforts to uplift our populations from poverty. The effort made to host this Forum, attracting a wide range of partners in so short a time, is a good example of what the continent can achieve if it can bring its resources together.”
With over 700 individual registrations, and thousands more following via digital platforms, Africa Land Forum 2020 is reaching more people than it could in “normal times”. The virtual online conversation, engaging many women and youth, is an inclusive experience. What Kafui Kuwonu in the opening speech described with a French proverb as “every cloud having a silver lining.”
2. “In Africa, land is more than a resource: it is who we are.”
Linking land to the African personality was Dr. Janet Edeme, who said that land is a safety net in Africa; that it extends to the identity of the African people, to their culture.
“Any development agenda needs to underscore good land governance. Land is essential to achieving regional goals, be it ending hunger and promoting sustainable agriculture, achieving gender equality and empowering all women, or in combatting desertification and reversing land degradation. Through the African Union Declaration of Land Challenges of 2009, our Heads of State and Government resolved to assure equitable land access for all land users and improve access and security for women as key priorities,” she said. A lot is being done. The problem lies in synergizing efforts.
3. “We need to listen to ourselves.”
Reflexion is one of the ways to filling that synergy gaps, says Shadrack Omondi. “We are just 3 years to the first 10 years of Agenda 2063’s realization. We need to sit down and ask ourselves: ‘What has worked? What needs to be fixed, as to achieve better land governance?’”
This reflection should not be a one off call. It could be annual: on the progress institutions are making toward better land governance; on the role that national and regional blocs play, within existing mechanisms, in fostering the implementation of the African Union Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa.
4. “ILC intergovernmental member organisations can achieve more through reinforced networking.”
For ILC intergovernmental member organisations to further advance its role as a coalition, it needs to foster larger networks, at the national and regional levels. Representatives from IFAD, FAO, GLTN/UNHABITAT, UNCCD/UNEP, ILRI gave powerful reality checks. Each of the organisations work differently. For example, the World Bank focuses on finance, while IFAD works on rural investment. Other intergovernmental member organisations work more directly with CSOs.
“There is need for member organisations to get to know each other better and gain a deeper insight into each other’s work,” said Jimmy Gaudin. “ILC can play a strong role in connecting these organisations to advance the land policy frameworks in Africa, and harmonize interventions.”
5. “…And not sure we have a strong monitoring capacity in place.”
There are many processes in place—the Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa, the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in Context of National Food Security (VGGT), and the AU Guiding Principles on Large Scale Land Based Investments in Africa (LSLBI), to name but these.
At the breakout session 2, Dr. Joan Cuka Kagwanja said, “We need to have strong monitoring capacity in place to check on these processes, and the resources to fund such monitoring.” Do we have them?
6. “We want to be entrepreneurs,” African youth tell us
One speaker shared his experience interacting with the youth in Africa. “We want to be entrepreneurs,” African youth tell us in all the countries. They see youth access to secure land as a means of entrepreneurship. “Everyone cannot be an entrepreneur; those who can succeed should be identified and assisted appropriately,” he said. Organisations working on youth access to land should share good practices for possible replication in other contexts.
7. Breakout session 1 summarized in two sentences
Shadrack Omondi, the rapporteur of the breakout session 1, echoed the discussions of the group in two sentences:
First, there is need to strengthen the synergy between CSOs and RECs at the national and regional levels. And second, documents are good, but we now need to move to action.
8. “Did you notice how the two breakout sessions mirror each other?”
“There is so much work going on, but we are still not able to pull them together and present them to the Heads of State.”
“If these gaps on synergies are filled, better land governance in Africa will be advanced,” came the final word of Day 1 from the African Union.