The event gathered 95 participants from 22 countries, representing indigenous and non-indigenous organisations, was hosted by MBOSCUDA with the theme ‘Securing the land rights of indigenous people and rural communities’, in Yaoundé, Cameroon from November 7-8, 2012.
Challenges and issues which emerged from the event were the following:
- The land rights of women are still limited by our African patriarchal systems. Equally, our laws and policies fail to recognise and protect the land rights of indigenous and minorities who use land and natural resources in different ways from other populations. In particular, we note that the value of transhumance for healthy livestock and environmental protection is often ignored, and few efforts are made to secure land for groups who are nomadic.
- We observe an alarming rise in land grabbing by local and national elites and external players, including the state and private investors, of the land of the poor. States compete for land and resources with its citizens, fail to meet commitments to invest in land reforms, and often act in the interests of an elite minority.
- Land is also under pressure as a result of population growth and climate change.
- This is taking place within a wider context of a lack of transparency and of information on rights to land by citizens. Low literacy of land laws by citizens, a lack of land laws published in native languages and complex land administration systems make it difficult for the poor to secure land rights.
- Commodification and privatization of land has led to conflict and undermined customary land tenure systems. In addition, the creation of national parks and protected areas continues to cause the displacement of people. Landlessness is becoming a problem in our continent.
- Despite the existence of policies and legislation on land, their implementation is poor. The important role that civil society should play in the formulation and implementation of land policies and laws is often ignored by governments.
In conclusion, the participants offered their support to the implementation of the Yaounde Declaration and called on the Government, as well as the other States in Africa, to follow the principles of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples unequivocally in all governance structures and decision-making over land. It was recommended that the Government of Cameroon give special consideration to Mbororo and Pigmy communities.