First Africa Land Forum: Challenging times for indigenous peoples and pastoralists in Africa
Their land and livelihoods at risk
November 14, 2012, Yaoundé, Cameroon - From November 7-8, 2012, 95 participants from 22 countries convened at the Hotel Franco in Yaoundé, Cameroon for the 1st Africa Land Forum with the theme ‘Securing the land rights of indigenous people and rural communities’. The forum was organized by the Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association of Cameroon (MBOSCUDA) and the International Land Coalition (ILC) Africa.
The Africa Land Forum included presentations from nationally recognized activists and land rights experts in Cameroon, including Dr. Manu Ibrahim, lecturer at the University of Dschang, Mr. Abdoulaye Harrissou, acclaimed author of 'Land, a human right: micro-properties, social peace and development' and the esteemed Hawa Bouba of MUSAB Cameroon. ILC Africa members from throughout Africa presented their achievements and lessons learned for promoting people-centred land governance at the national level. The importance of gender equity and women’s land rights was a central theme throughout the Forum.
During his keynote speech, MBOSCUDA National President El Hadj Jaji Manu Gidado, declared “Our country, Cameroon, is made up of 240 different ethnic groups, including the Mbororo and Pygmies. MBOSCUDA is one of the principle organizations advocating for their political and socio-economic emancipation”. He exclaimed,. “Every day land is becoming more precious. The rich are becoming more interested in land that belongs to the indigenous and rural poor communities, who are considered as everlasting strangers who must one day leave their land. We are saying no, we are all Cameroonians, we are all Africans, and all of us have the same rights.”
On the second day of the Forum, a delegation of ten forum participants, including ILC Africa Chair Odenda. Lumumba, Mr. Gidado, representatives of indigenous people in Kenya and Madagascar, and the ILC Secretariat were summoned by Cameroon Prime Minister Philémon Yunji Yang to discuss national land reform and indigenous peoples.
Musa Usman, MBOSCUDA Vice President, articulated their discontent with the marginalization of indigenous people in Cameroon from decision-making processes to the Prime Minister. Mr. Lumumba explained ILC’s program supporting the development of National Engagement Strategies (NES) for collaborative land policy reform processes that bring together diverse stakeholders, including governments, and how this process could be relevant to the land reforms of Cameroon.
Emphasizing his support for engaging with MBOSCUDA in the land reform process, Mr. Yang said, “I am very hopeful that organisations like yours can help us in the land reform process. The ILC can help support governments in this regard by sharing lessons learned elsewhere.”
At the end of the forum, participants unanimously approved the Yaoundé Declaration, which identifies emerging issues and challenges on land issues and details eight recommendations focused on African governments, in particular the government of Cameroon. The Yaoundé Declaration highlighted both the Africa Land Policy Framework and the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security, and calls on governments to reform of national land processes to adhere to them.
ILC Africa Chair Odenda Lumumba said, “This declaration will guide our future dealings and concerns about land issues in Africa. It’s not going to be easy, as land in agriculture in Africa basically serves vested interests.” Many African countries are now developing new national land frameworks.
To read the full Declaration issued by the land forum, visit: http://www.landcoalition.org/news/yaounde-declaration-1st-ilc-africa-land-forum
The program and presentations can be downloaded from the ILC website: http://www.landcoalition.org/events/1st-africa-land-forum-securing-land-rights-indigenous-people-and-rural-communities
Pictures of the land forum can be viewed on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/landcoalition/sets/72157631944415004/
About the International Land Coalition (ILC)
The International Land Coalition is a global alliance of civil society and intergovernmental organisations working together to promote secure and equitable access to and control over land for poor women and men through advocacy, dialogue, knowledge sharing and capacity building. www.landcoalition.org
About the Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association (MBOSCUDA)
The Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association (MBOSCUDA) is a membership-based association of the Mbororo pastoralists of Cameroon. It was created in 1992 and is committed to empowering Mbororo people to achieve sustainable and equitable development and to secure their human, social, cultural and economic rights as valued active citizens of the Republic of Cameroon.