Learning to action: how an initiative transforms land protection in remote settings across the world

Rachael Knight, Senior Advisor for Land, Namati
Thursday, September 13, 2018

From the Namati Blog series 1/6

In early February 2018, seven NGOs met for a weeklong workshop in Aberdare, Kenya, to take-part in the ILC’s Community Land Protection Co-Learning Initiative. The Initiative aims to build a supportive community of practice to facilitate learning...

The workshop in Kenya brought together seasoned, experienced land rights protectors from three continents and empowered them to teach the practical, logistical details of their proven strategies for community land protection to one another. At the workshop, the participating NGOs – the Institute de Bien Commune in Peru, Ecolex in Ecuador, Tanzania Natural Resource Forum (TNRF) in Tanzania, the Community Assistance in Development (COMAID) in Cameroon, and Jaringan Kerja Pemetaan Partisipatif (JKPP) in Indonesia, led by the global NGOs Namati and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) – took turns teaching one another their most successful community land protection strategies, as well as collectively brainstorming solutions to challenges and jointly analyzing complex land-related issues.  We learned each others’ proven strategies for:

  • How to support communities to undertake participatory mapping of their lands and natural resources;
  • How best to involve/work with government officials;
  • How to hold corrupt local leaders accountable and stop them from making secret land deals in bad faith;
  • How to help communities to understand the value of their lands and natural resources;
  • How to support communities to create a vision and a “life plan”  to  achieve their desired future;
  • How to understand investment contracts, stop bad faith investments through targeted global advocacy with insurance companies, investors, and bilateral donors backing the investment,  and how to hold investors accountable to fulfilling promises of community benefits.
  • How to draft bylaws and make management plans for good governance of community lands and natural resources;
  • How to support community-level safeguards for protecting the land rights of women and other vulnerable groups;
  • How to support paralegals and communities to navigate government bureaucracies and forge supportive relationships with administrative officials who  will be helping to process their papers;
  • How to leverage the media to influence national policy and practice; and
  • How to support community members to lobby government for laws and policies that authentically promote their interests.

Each organisation left astounded by the rich and wide variety of new strategies they had learned and were funded to pilot in their home countries.

Each NGO was then provided funding to return home and begin working with two to three communities to implement their usual community land protection strategies, as well as one or more new strategies they had learned from the other participating NGOs. The following blogs, written by the participating NGOs, are reports of their fieldwork to date, including their efforts to try out new strategies they learned from their peers during the Kenya workshop.

The Community Land Protection Co-Learning Initiative was designed to leverage the ILC network’s strengths and benefits. The Initiative was created to be a resource for ILC members engaged in cutting-edge community land protection efforts, as a platform for each of them to teach one another what they know, support one another to face challenges, collaboratively innovate solutions to complex problems, and pool their knowledge in ways that can then spill over and offer lessons to members across ILC’s whole network.  Most wonderful is how this ILC Initiative has brought together practitioners from Africa, Latin America and Asia – a rare event that has promoted profound cross-regional learning. The cross-continental sharing was rich and exciting for everyone. The ILC’s extraordinary network makes the entire Initiative possible,