Addis Ababa, June 14, 2017 (ECA) – A two-day Experts’ Group Meeting to validate a study on Land, Ethnicity and Conflict in Africa ended in Addis Ababa Wednesday with participants endorsing the draft report as an authentic piece of work that reflects the current land situation on the continent.
Organized by the Land Policy Initiative (LPI), the secretariat of the tripartite consortium of the African Union Commission (AUC), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), and the African Development Bank (AfDB) which facilitates the implementation of the AU Declaration on Land in Africa, the meeting validated the report that was produced by Simon Njogu and a team of African land experts analyzing the relationship between land, ethnicity and conflicts in Africa.
“Land is at the heart of the political, social and economic development of most African States where the majority of our people heavily rely on agriculture and natural resources for their livelihoods,” said LPI Coordinator, Joan Kagwanja.
“That is why the study was commissioned to conduct a comprehensive assessment of land-related conflicts and the links with ethnicity and establish the relationship between land, ethnicity and conflicts in Africa. The depth of the relationship had to be explored and we are happy the experts have endorsed the draft report; and now we push ahead with the agreed way forward.”
She noted while land conflicts in Africa have been documented substantially, relatively little or nothing has been recorded about the relationship between land, ethnicity and conflicts.
Case studies on land conflicts were discussed during the two days, in particular the Darfur crisis in South Sudan. Faisal Hassan Mansour Ahmed, the Secretary General of the Darfur Land Commission shared with the meeting the current situation in his country concerning land, ethnicity and conflicts.
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Senior Private Sector Development Officer, Innocent Paradzayi Makwiramiti, applauded the LPI for commissioning the study, adding it will help the continent deal with land and ethnicity conflicts, paving the way for the creation of a conducive environment that will boost investment, economic growth and sustainable development in Africa.
Participants agreed the report will allow experts, governments and others to understand land-related ethnic conflicts on the continent as this is key to addressing peace and security issues,
They agreed to do a number of things following the meeting, including finalizing the synthesis report, developing policy briefs and regional background documents while integrating conflict-sensitive strategies.
The experts will soon present their findings, recommendations and policy guidelines to the continent’s leaders through the AU, the United Nations, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and related entities.
The LPI was tasked to undertake high level advocacy at continental, regional and national levels to champion the adoption and implementation of the study’s findings. A high level panel on land and development which includes issues such as land, ethnicity and conflict was suggested.
“We will also as a way forward, provide technical assistance to member States on land policy development that takes into account land, ethnicity and conflict,” said Kagwanja.
The validation meeting also, as a way forward, tasked various members to develop tools and guidelines for use by development partner programs who support governments at country level to integrate issues of land, ethnicity and conflict.
The experts will also develop a research agenda on land, ethnicity and conflict in Africa linking these to migration, climate variability and change, peace and security, indigenous people and minorities, urbanization, infrastructure and mining, among others.
Research fellowships and scholarships for MSc and PhDs into the subject will be offered at partner universities as the tripartite consortium seeks a new generation of researchers to address issues of land, ethnicity and conflict in Africa.
Conflict mapping tools specific to countries will also be developed, incorporating the gender dimension, and best practices.
Janet Edeme, the AUC Director for DREA, said the big turnout of participants at the experts’ meeting shows how important the implementation of the AU declaration on land is for the continent.
She said the study is part of the LPI’s efforts to generate knowledge that will help governments understand land-related ethnic conflicts and how to address them in a way that will promote economic growth.
“When land related conflicts occur, lives are lost, property is destroyed, people are displaced. Women and children suffer immensely on many levels. It is important that we understand why these conflicts occur so that we can come up with concrete solutions,” said Ms. Edeme.
The meeting brought together 42 participants, including representatives from member States, the AUC, UN agencies, academia, research and civil society organizations, among others.
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