New year, New NES: ILC’s national strategies are expanding to new countries

Tuesday, 27th February 2018

In 2018, six countries will be added to the current list of 22 National Engagement Strategies that ILC supports, expanding our efforts in “changing policies, practices and agendas" nationally.

What do South Africa, Senegal, Kyrgyzstan, Argentina, Moldova, and Jordan have in common? Despite their distinctive, cultural, geographical and language differences, each of these countries are taking positive steps towards improving land governance in their respective countries. By forming alliances through National Engagement Strategies (NESs), ILC members and other land actors in are  taking collective action to try and influence the future of their nation’s land and tenure laws.

What is a NES?

NES is a type of multi-stakeholder platform, or collective governance model, that works by opening the space up for dialogue and inclusive decision making with various partners in both the public and private sector, to address complex issues on people-centred land governance. Together, a diverse group of actors comprised of ILC members and non-members, come up with best solutions to solve some of their countries’ most pressing land governance problems.

ILC members in South Africa, Senegal, Kyrgyzstan, Argentina, Moldova, and Jordan have decided that the best way to connect and engage with governments in their country would be through the establishment of a NES. Over the last year, members in these countries started the formulation phase and starting in 2018, they will all be supported by ILC as a fully functional multi-stakeholder platform.

ILC supports NESs by providing initial seed funding together with the necessary tools to help strengthen it as a policy changing mechanism to interact, engage and lobby with governments and policy makers.   

Read more about NES

Impact starts from the ground-up.

Since no two country contexts are the same, every NES has a unique approach in addressing their respective geographical, cultural and political environments.

For the Republic of Moldova – one of the new NESs in formulation -  issues stem from the mishandling of the privatisation of agricultural land. Property titles fail to accurately represent physical land ownership, causing confusion on who the land actually belongs to. There have been many cases of land owners investing in land infrastructure on what they thought was their land, to later discover that their investment was on land that was not clearly listed on their land titles.  

According to Valentin Ciubotaru of NGO Bios, the issue is not lack of policy, but rather that 'many landowners cannot use existing rights to their full potential due to erroneous interpretation and implementation of legislation.'

Valentin finds hope with the formulation of a NES.  For him it is 'an opportunity to improve sustainable land use and management among farmers' -  a chance to fix these legislative errors with new mechanisms that can be agreed upon by all involving actors.

For both Senegal and South Africa, a strong NES will complement the existing multi-stakeholder platforms for the Voluntary Guidelines on Land Tenure (VGGTs) that were recently established in each country..

'While South Africa has had many carefully crafted and ostensibly progressive land legislation and policies - which initially had a pro-poor focus and aimed at redressing the injustices of the past - much of this legislation has been poorly implemented,”  says Laurel Oettle from the Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA), the organisation leading the implementation of the NES in South Africa.  'We have seen the deliberate neglect of the most vulnerable, whose claims to land remain largely unprocessed, the already middle-class, wealthy and politically-connected benefiting from some land reform programmes, and land reform budgets decreasing year after year.'  

South Africa suffers from a history of Apartheid, directly contributing to the inherit inequality in the country, including land. It will be a challenging obstacle for the NES to address, but with a new President at the helm, and the drive to end corruption in the country,  Ms Ottel is confident that the NES and the VGGT multi-stakeholder platforms can bring out positive change in South Africa’s land policy in the coming years.   

NESs in other countries have seen genuine progress in changing policies thanks to their collaborative methodology, and so Valentin and Laurel are reasonable in their hopes and expectations! This collective approach of addressing land governance issues is leading the way in realising ILC’s goal of equitable land governance for and with the people.

For more information, please contact Andrea Fiorenza at