How partnerships are driving the Cameroun Land Reform process

My name is Amaelle Seigneret. I work as a Research and technical support consultant with IIED (the International Institute for Environment and Development), a research institute with a long history of collaboration with ECA and the African Land Policy Centre. In particular, Through various projects IIED has supported the implementation of the Framework and guidelines on land policy in Africa, and has contributed to the development of the Guiding Principles on Large Scale Land Based Investments in Africa.

Working closely with partner organisations in Africa, we generate evidence, develop practical approaches such as legal empowerment tools, and formulate policy recommendations to make land governance structures more inclusive and just. This is what we are currently doing with our Cameroonian partners from the CED (Centre for Environment and Development), also present in Abidjan this week, and RELUFA (Anti-Hunger Network) through the LandCam project.

Cameroon has undertaken a land law reform for the first time since 1974. This decision comes at a time when African rural lands are under great pressure and in a national context where there are few mechanisms to protect the land rights of local populations. There are places in Cameroon where communities' living spaces have been considerably reduced, or have even disappeared, because their lands have been allocated for commercial projects or conservation reserves without prior procedure to consult them and obtain their consent. LandCam aims to support civil society during the reform process to ensure that Cameroon's rural populations are not only represented in decision-making structures, but to see that they can meaningfully participate and actively defend their interests.

Such a mission requires working in partnership with a diversity of actors at different levels. At the local level, for example, we are trying to better understand the impacts of the creation of large concessions on communities, through participatory mapping activities, the organisation of multi-stakeholder fora and exchanges with members of these communities. We have also undertaken extensive work to document customary land management practices across the country. All these activities enable us to formulate policy recommendations for the new law to ensure that it reflects the reality of a large part of the Cameroonian population and helps secure their land rights. In two weeks' time, we will participate in a forum in Yaoundé that will bring together a diversity of stakeholders, including parliamentarians and the Minister of State Property, Surveys and Land Affairs, to define a vision for the new law, which we want based on inclusion and justice.

The “Conference on Land Policy in Africa” happening this week in Abidjan is a chance to exchange with representatives from civil society, academia, the public and private sectors on strategies to secure rural land rights.