Strengthening leaders to make people-centred land governance possible

Carla Donayre Oropeza
Thursday, June 14, 2018

By August 2018, more than 30 ILC members from more than 15 countries from Africa, Asia and Latin America will be actively participating in the ILC Leadership Programme.

Organisational leadership is a critical element in building a durable, capable and effective civil society organisation; an organisation that is equipped to support the ILC's joint goal in realising people-centred land governance. To respond to this challenge, ILC has started a new global initiative, the ILC Leadership Programme, which aims to support its members in strengthening and renewing their organisational and leadership capacities.

To pilot test the programme throughout 2018, ILC has joined forces with members from Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean, all whom have expertise in capacity development. Each region has a dedicated facilitator to help take the lead:  Maliasili Initiatives in Africa, Procasur in LAC, and the Asian Farmers Association (AFA) in Asia.

Here is a quick snapshot at each of the region’s approaches and experiences so far!

Looking at ourselves to transform our organisations: The Africa Leadership Programme

16 land rights leaders from ILC member organisations[1] representing six African countries took a break from their everyday routines to come to Kenya for the first session of the ILC Africa Organisational Leadership Programme. Participants immersed themselves into a  journey of self-reflection, exploration and collective learning, all essential elements for transformative change.

An “eye-opening” experience for some, a uniquely personal moment for others, Maliasili’s team encouraged participants during the five-day meeting to get out of their comfort zones in order to reflect on their strengths, weaknesses and motivations, while rethinking their roles as leaders. 

The programme is structured as a set of two immersive full week workshops with seven weeks of mentoring in between. The second chapter of the programme will take place in July 2018, where participants will move from the personal dimension of leadership to work on leadership at organisational and systems level.

Leadership really starts with understanding yourself as individual. To build trust and to build healthy relationships, which are the things that allow you to achieve change in the world, you have to understand yourself […] This kind of approach is very different  from what we normally see as capacity development in the development sector. We are trying to go really deep and really focused on individual as well.” (Fred Nelson, Maliasili Executive Director)

Revisiting our identity: Leadership Programme the Asian way

Reflecting on Asia’s context and revisiting the region’s main land rights struggles are unavoidable exercises for young and senior leaders alike. In particular, when these leaders are asked to rethink their role and the challenges they face in realising land governance for and with people. 

13 ILC members[2] came together in the Philippines this last May to do just that; to identify main elements for the Asia Leadership Programme as well as challenges faced by civil society organisations in the region. By coming together and looking at the experiences of different regions, the needs of ILC members, and the overall regional context, they were able to come up with a programme that suited their needs. The Asia programme was conceived to include in-class, field and implementation activities, where participants will have the opportunity to develop concrete skills and competencies for organisational and networking management.

Focused on recognising diversity as a strength and on building solidarity, the programme targets second-line leaders who are motivated to be immersed in a process of learning-unlearning, critical thinking, collective discovery and mutual collaboration. Ensuring women’s active and sustained participation in the land rights arena is also at the core of the programme. First line leaders will accompany their second-line counterparts as mentors and guide them out of their nests to explore new paths of thinking and practicing leadership. Starting in August, the programme will be an opportunity to bring generations together to build on this collaboration

Land governance is not a discourse. Ideas will be dead without creating conditions to make them feel comfortable. How to do this? By understanding the context and empowering multiple level of leaders. By encouraging critical thinking and leaders to think out of the box, and connecting the multiple sides of the struggles over land.” (Noer Fauzi Rachman, resource person for the workshop, independent expert from Indonesia)

Strengthening the voice of grassroots organisations: LAC Leadership Programme

Grassroots organisations are critical actors in the struggle over land rights in Latin America and the Caribbean. Procasur and ILC will be coming together to reckon this, as well to support the strengthening of their voices so they can have a more sustained presence in national, regional and global platforms.

Weak capacities and systems for internal management together with fragile mechanisms for membership and leadership renewal are some of the most pressing challenges faced by the nine ILC members from Guatemala, Honduras and Peru participating in the programme[3]—all of them representing more than 250 000 peasants and Indigenous Peoples. Challenges identified are the result of organisational self-assessments carried out over the last two months under the guidance of Procasur and based on mixed participatory methodologies.

At the beginning of July 2018, Honduras will host young leaders from the participating organisations during a five-day start-up workshop. Leaders will meet to learn from each others’ experiences and start working on their organisational strengthening plans. Indeed, the programme intends to respond to the challenges identified with concrete solutions to be implemented during the 18-month long programme. Mentoring is expected and seed funding is set aside to pilot-test their organisational strengthening. Women, indigenous and young leaders are at the core of the programme.

“Our work relies on the trust in each organization traditions, skills and practices […] We seek to provide a technical support that accompanies an autonomous strengthening process […] This requires organisations to take ownership, identify their own problems and prioritize their objectives” (Ariel Halpern, Vice President, Procasur)

ILC's Leadership Programme; a learning and collaboration opportunity for our members to come together, learn from each other, share their successes and challenges, and find real and concrete solutions. Because more aware, reflective and equipped leaders are more likely to make changes! 

Stay tuned in the following months for more coming from the Leadership Programme, including a dedicated learning session at the Global Land Forum 2018 in September, where we will share progress and lessons learned, while reflecting on capacity development models, practices and future possibilities!


[1] IPAR from Senegal, OPDP from Kenya, TALA and UCRT from Tanzania, ZLA from Zambia, Nzuki and TRALSO from South Africa, and ULA from Uganda.

[1] ALRD from Bangladesh; Star Kampuchea from Cambodia; KAFLU from Kyrgyzstan; SAINS, RMI and KPA from Indonesia; CSRC from Nepal; PAFID, ANGOC, AFA and Pakisama from Philippines, and Procasur (global).

[1] CCDA, Nuevo Día, CODECA, UVOC and RECMURIC from Guatemala; COCOCH, UMCAH and UTC from Honduras; and ONAMIAP from Peru.