Accra, Ghana, 17 July 2017 (ECA) – The regional workshop on securing community land rights continued in Accra, Ghana, Monday with Land Policy Initiative (LPI) Coordinator, Joan Kagwanja, saying better governance of land resources in Africa can catalyze growth and development and in the process help eradicate extreme poverty on the continent.
In her presentation to Land Commissioners and other senior government officials attending the workshop on securing community land rights, Ms. Kagwanja said decentralized management of land resources and renewal of land institutions is vital to peace, security and participatory democracy.
“Land is central to Africa’s development and if well- governed and managed, it is a means to reduce poverty and inequalities,” said Ms. Kagwanja, adding securing land rights was a basis for attracting economic investment and spurring economic growth that will ensure the economic transformation of the continent.
The LPI Coordinator told the Land Commissioners, who are meeting for the first time ever to discuss Africa’s land issues, that sound land policy management was also necessary for sound environmental management on the continent.
Participants are discussing the governance structures of customary land regimes within different political economies and how they respond to the need to secure land rights, among other things.
“What is important is how decisions are made regarding access to and use of land, how those decisions are implemented and how conflicting interests are resolved. What is the level of accountability and transparency in the decision-making process and accounting for the use of and returns from the land,” said Ms. Kagwanja.
Participants on Monday shared national experiences, especially on the interface between customary and statutory institutions and government efforts to decentralise land management and land administration.
Most of them agreed there are inconsistencies in the way policy and legislation are tackling the land issue in their countries with other saying they have more than five agencies dealing with land resulting in bad coordination or duplication of activities.
Most of the participants said their commissions were either short-staffed or lacked capacity to deal with the sensitive land issues in their countries and were happy the LPI was on hand to support member States to deal with all aspects of land governance, particularly in the area of capacity development.
Of importance, they agreed, is training in effective land administration, capacity development in negotiations and related areas.
Ms. Kagwanja explained the role of the LPI in supporting member States ensure fair and equitable land distribution that will spur economic transformation.
The LPI is also working with academic institutions to improve curriculum in African Universities and develop capacities through research to enable the universities to respond effectively to meet the capacity needs for good land governance on the continent.
Scholarships are being given to deserving students to increase the teaching capacities in Africa’s universities.
Organizers expect that out of this initial meeting, a platform for African Land Commissions will be established to provide for continuous learning, experience sharing and documentation of best practices.
The workshop, being attended by 40 Land Commissioners from 16 countries, was organized by the LPI in partnership with the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), a global coalition of organizations working to encourage forest land tenure and policy reforms.
The LPI is a joint programme of the tripartite consortium consisting of the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
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