Benchmarks for Land Governance in Africa

How to use the Frameworks and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa, alongside the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security as guides to better land governance

Throughout Africa, democratic land governance systems are key for both protecting the rights of diverse communities and creating a stable economic environment for investment.  In an effort to encourage their effective development, the African Union established  the Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa (F&G) in July 2009.  During this same period, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization began consultations to develop Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT), resulting in their adoption at the Committee for World Food Security (CFS) in May 2012 as the first detailed land governance guidelines endorsed by the international community.  The documents provided hope for a new direction to both government and civil society organisations seeking to improve land governance and practice in Africa. 

Yet, the complexity of these two frameworks may seem daunting for civil society and governments alike to interpret and implement. In response, the International Land Coalition commissioned “Benchmarks for Land Governance in Africa: How to Use the Frameworks and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa, alongside the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security as guides to better land governance”. 

This benchmark guide brings together the global discourse in the VGGT and the regional priorities elaborated in the F&G and makes it easy to articulate and apply the two frameworks together in land reform processes in Africa.  For campaigners, the two frameworks may serve as advocacy tools  to encourage governments to ensure that land governance reforms are implemented. For governments, the frameworks are helpful tools to mark progress in implementing land reforms.

For countries facing investment challenges, use of these guidelines creates opportunities to change the investment landscape to become more people-centred and generate wealth for the countries and communities where these investments happen.

By identifying twelve common messages in both guidelines, it shows us how to articulate and apply the two frameworks, not separately, but together in land reform processes in Africa.  Human rights, gender equality, non- discrimination and transparency are only some of the shared themes which can be of interest to members of the International Land Coalition and other stakeholders.  However, in order for these policy messages to be developed and implemented, multi-stakeholder engagement is needed.  Policy-makers, public organisations, non-governmental organisations, customary leaders and members of the public all have essential roles to play in the process.   

Both the VGGT and the F&G make clear that willing and constructive engagement across the different sectors of society is key to success.  Whatever your involvement in the land sector, this guide will help all actors to engage effectively.