ILC Africa members celebrate World Food Day 2018

Monday, 22nd October 2018

In January this year, the African Union renewed its commitment to end hunger by 2025. In recent years, efforts to reverse hunger in Africa have multiplied, but as the UN State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017 shows, real progress is yet to follow.  Globally, 767 million people live in extreme poverty, half of them in sub-Saharan Africa. Across the continent, it is popular opinion that the African nations need to go beyond windy promises.

Last week, as the world was celebrating the World Food Day, ILC members took advantage to remind African policy makers of their commitments to food and land security.

Indigenous Peoples and local communities demand for land rights

In a global mobilisation for community land rights, ILC members aired difficulties their communities face to secure food without access to land.  Instead of rewarding the people of Acholi in Northern Uganda for preserving their customary land for decades, the Ugandan government served them evictions and criminalisation. Land Rights Now is an international collaborative advocacy movement to secure Indigenous and community land rights in the world. In its press release on a new policy brief published on October 16 2018, Jimmy Ochom, Programmes Manager at the Uganda Land Alliance said: “the Acholi depend entirely on their land. Farming not only feeds families but also provides revenue for children’s health and education. Many of those evicted now face hunger or must rely on food aid.”

In the same release, Daniel Kobei, Executive Director of the Ogiek Peoples’ Development Programme (OPDP), highlighted the situation for the Ogiek Peoples who won a landmark case against the government of Kenya in 2017. While the government is waiting to implement the court ruling, the Ogieks are still evicted from their homes. “We are still barred from our customary forests,”said Kobei.

Zero hunger is possible in Africa

“Zero hunger by 2030 is possible in Cameroon,”reads one key message from ILC members in Cameroon. The steering committee members of the National Engagement Strategy (NES) in Cameroon designed a poster sharing their vision of Zero Hunger to send a message to national policy makers. In their communication, they appealed to the government of Cameroon to protect community land rights. For them, food sovereignty cannot be guaranteed in the country without land rights.

If the approach to advocacy in Cameroon was creative, in Senegal, it was direct. ILC member, IPAR engaged the government and other stakeholders directly on land and food security. At an event FAO and the ministry of agriculture of Senegal organised in Dakar on October 15, Dr Ibrahima Ka, IPAR's Land and Natural Resources Management Program Manager, participated in a panel on urbanisation and Food Security, where he talked about peri-urban land management: legal framework, practices of actors and issues of prospective regulation. Dr Ibrahima also used the opportunity to communicate to Senegalese authorities present about IPAR's vision on land governance and ILC's 10 commitments to people centred land governance.

Women’s land rights

The struggle to food security rests in the hands of women in Africa. Women contribute around 60-80 person of the labour force that produces all the food to feed Sub Saharan Africa, yet have limited access to land. On World Food Day, rural women from the Kilimanjaro initiative in Senegal, Benin and Kenya also mobilised to demand for their land rights.  In Kenya, GrootsKenya , a women's rights organisation mobilised women in Kiambu County to send a clear message to land control boards. “We ask the ministry [of lands] to conduct an audit of all the land control boards in the country for compliance and further invest in building the capacity of women in the land control boards to execute their mandate effectively,” reads their declaration.  In Benin women climbed mount Atakora to demand for their land rights and in Senegal dozens of women gathered in Thiès to talk about empowering rural women for food and nutrition security.