Governments working with private and public stakeholders to improve land governance in Africa

Thursday, 23rd November 2017

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 13 November  2017- Multi-stakeholders platforms (MSP) bringing together civil society organisations (CSOs), private sector, governments, and UN agencies are essential in securing land rights and achieving development in Africa. The collaborative nature of these platforms has great potential for synergising ideas and finding common ground on land issues. MSP appears to be a recommendation of regional, continental and international normative frameworks on land tenure, including the Frameworks and Guidelines on Land Governance in Africa (F&Gs), the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The idea of how the continent’s institutions, commissions, private sector, academia, NGOs/CSOs and national governments can engage to foster land governance was at the centre of discussions at the High-Level Forum on multi-stakeholder platforms in Africa. The International Land Coalition (ILC) in collaboration with the African Land Policy Centre (ALPC), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Civil Society Platform (CSP) organised the event on 13 November 2017 at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Conference Centre, just prior to the Second Conference on Land Policy in Africa.

Over 80 participants of the Forum representing Government Ministries and institutions in charge of land, Chieftaincies, Regional Economic Communities, CSOs, the media, INGOs and Intergovernmental Organisations from over 20 countries - including 14 African countries - highlighted the need to improve collaboration through multi-stakeholder platforms and to find common solutions to the numerous issues around land in Africa. The event provided a space for sharing experiences and perspectives among key stakeholders, drawing from national trends, continental thematic priorities, and regional experiences.

MSP strengthen dialogue and partnerships

“At ALPC, we have a long recognition for multi-stakeholder platforms for effective land governance,” said Dr Joan Cuka Kagwanja, Coordinator of the ALPC in her opening remark. The transition of the tripartite Land Policy Initiative (LPI) into the African Land Policy Centre (ALPC) confirms the key role this institution is called to play in supporting the structuring of MSP at the continental level. Indeed, its mandate includes creating continental and regional land platforms that promotes coordination in the land sector, with a view to enhancing leadership, coordination, advocacy and partnerships in support of the efforts of African Union member States on land governance.

According to Mr Harold Liversage of IFAD, IFAD’s support for the development of land policies has always been constant to help achieve the organisation’s objectives because tenure security and good land governance is crucial to help poor people achieve development and secure their livelihoods. “Key for us, is the issue of partnerships between different stakeholders,” said Mr Liversage. Partnerships that IFAD has multiplied efforts in the last few decades to strengthen relaying on multi-stakeholder platforms for dialogue between actors.

According to Michael Taylor, Director of the ILC Secretariat, the argument that good land governance means an inclusive process, is cohesive with the network’s vision for people-centred land governance “A process that involves listening to the voices of all stakeholders and finding common grounds between them,” he said.

“Our members have drawn from the African Frameworks and Guidelines on Land Governance (endorsed by the African Union in 2009) and from the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land (VGGT) and developed what our members call the 10 commitments. Ten key areas in these documents that they would most like to see shape land policy in their countries.”

Learning from in-country multi-stakeholder processes

Land tenure reform processes are ongoing in several African countries in line with the international, continental and regional standards, regulations, framework, and guidelines, resulting in the passing of new land laws and policies. The challenge is and always has been the implementation of these laws and policies.

To highlight key lessons, a panel focused on implementation efforts in countries with good record of collaboration between different actors. Delegations from Tanzania, Togo, Malawi and Madagascar from CSO and government representatives shared their experiences of working together to improve land governance in their respective countries. To enrich the debates, all 11 delegations, including Cameroon, Niger, DRC, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa, and Ethiopia further discussed country focused issues. They shared ideas, explored obstacles and strategies to improve land governance in their own countries. Three key things came out of the discussions:

  •  For stakeholders to work together to ensure land governance, inclusiveness is essential. Countries want to give room to people at the grassroots level to participate and represent their communities
  •  Countries acknowledge they have to work together to implement the good policies in place and bring new legislation where possible
  • Engaging in continuous open dialogue with all stakeholders in the process.

Women land rights

In another multi-stakeholder panel, five panellists explored how the multi-stakeholder approach could build momentum at the regional level. Panellists discussed issues relevant to land rights in their commissions and stressed the importance of women’s land rights. Mr Marou Assane dit Koubou, a Member of Parliament in Niger, representing the Pan African Parliament (PAP) said the African Parliament is looking at ways to sort women land rights questions. “What I am glad to see is the convergence of views towards women land rights,” Mr Marou stressed. “At the level of PAP, when we discussed [women’s land rights] issues, we agreed that it is such a nice idea. Women make more 50% of Africa’s population. When a woman has something, it is for the whole family.”

Land governance is key to development

Closing the event on behalf of the ILC Africa Steering Committee members, Ms Kafui Kuwonu thanked all participants, restating the common theme that land governance should be people-centred to represent the majority of Africans living in rural areas who depend and live off the land. Ms Kafui ended her speech stating, “Food security, peace, social stability and the development of Africa is dependent on land, without which we cannot achieve the sustainable development goals and the African Union’s 2063 Agenda.”

Find more

  1. Take few minutes to watch this video from the event
  2. A fine way of learning about the event is via these pictures.