Land Rights publications

Land Rights in Africa publications from various sources

  • October 2019

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  • International Land Coalition – ILC (Arantxa Guereña & Marc Wegerif)

ILC officially launches this Land Inequality Framing Document, the first of a series of papers from the Land Inequality Research Initiative. Research by ILC member Oxfam and others shows that extreme inequality is rising in most regions. Worldwide around 84% of farms share 12% of the total agricultural land area, while just 16% of farms control the remaining 88%. Members of the ILC are concerned about this issue yet very little data exists to help us understand what the trends on land inequality are, as well as the complex and inter-related linkages between land inequality and wider inequalities. So ILC is coordinating this initiative to provide evidence and analysis to better understand the nature of land inequality worldwide. The initiative will develop a series of papers. The first, a framing document, aims to: define how to approach the complexities of land inequality; identify a coherent framework for research and action; suggest research themes and questions; and guide the next phases of the research initiative.

  • September 2019

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  • The Alliance Against Industrial Plantations in West and Central Africa

This report on the state of industrial oil palm plantations in West and Central Africa shows how communities are turning the tide on a massive land grab in the region. Between 2000 and 2015 companies signed oil palm plantation concession agreements with African governments covering over 4.7 million hectares, mostly without the knowledge of the affected communities. These companies are now struggling. There has been a significant decline in the number and total area of land deals for industrial oil palm plantations over the past five years, from 4.7 to a little over 2.7 million hectares. Only 220,608 hectares has been converted to oil palm plantations or been replanted with new palms during the past decade. Struggles by communities to defend their lands has been key to slowing this expansion. The report highlights how small-scale systems of oil palm cultivation are thriving across Africa while the corporate model is failing, and calls for an immediate ban on all future large-scale oil palm plantation projects and a halt to those currently being implemented. Where large-scale plantations already exist, the report calls for the lands to be returned to the control of the local communities.

  • September 2019

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  • IIED (Philippine Sutz)

Combining both written analysis and video interviews, this ‘longread’ details the impacts on women’s lives of three approaches developed by IIED partners in Tanzania, Ghana and Senegal to reinforce land governance structure in rural communities to make them gender-inclusive.

  • September 2019

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  • Transnational Institute – TNI (Sylvia Kay)

Argues that the role of the European Union in landgrabbing is manifold. EU actors are involved in the financing of large-scale land deals worldwide through forms of private finance, public finance and a combination of both. The EU’s position as an agricultural powerhouse is dependent on the huge import of agricultural commodities and inputs from the global South. Europe has a vast land import dependency with nearly 60% of the land used to meet Europe’s demand for agricultural and forestry products coming from outside its borders. On land governance the EU: hinders necessary and important land redistribution and restitution programmes; locks in onerous land deals, fosters land commodification; disempowers local legal resistance; impedes the reversal of abuses of illegitimate and unjust land and water deals; and limits the scope of progressive agrarian and agricultural policies that protect small-scale farmers and public health. By supporting this global investment regime, the EU seriously undermines efforts to stop and roll back landgrabbing, thereby legalising illegitimate activities.

  • September 2019

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  • Zimbabweland (Ian Scoones)

An analysis of the July South African report on land and agriculture which documents the sorry tale of land reform since 1994. Says action on land reform is long overdue. Makes sensible recommendations on expropriation. Suggests a policy shift towards equity as a goal of land reform and a shift towards redistribution. Makes the case for substantial (at least half) allocations to women and a focus on urban/peri-urban land. Adding to redistribution, restitution and land tenure reform, it suggests a fourth pillar – land administration. Lessons from Zimbabwe include moving from land reform to wider agrarian reform, the need to provide post-settlement support and to adopt a flexible approach. Civil society will need to be ready to apply pressure to realise the vision of the report.

  • August 2019

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  • IIED (Philippine Sutz, Amaelle Seigneret, Mary Richard, Patricia Blankson Akapko, Fati Alhassan, Mamadou Fall)

In many rural areas across sub-Saharan Africa lack of tenure security for women has been exacerbated by rising commercial pressure on land, further aggravated by climate change, urbanisation and population growth. As a result, rural livelihoods are being undermined, with potentially dire consequences for communities’ economic development and food security. Since 2016 IIED has been working with partners in Ghana, Senegal and Tanzania to engage with rural communities. While the initiatives have been tailored to the local context, all three share a common vision – that of strengthening rural women’s voices in issues of local land governance. This report presents in clear and concise detail the approach used in each case, as well as the key outcomes and lessons learned. From this, recommendations for replication and upscaling are made, providing a much-needed pathway for improving rural women’s access to land, as well as the control they exert over their livelihood options.

  • August 2019

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  • IIED

Growing commercial interests, population growth and conservation initiatives are increasing competition for land in Tanzania. At the same time, land-related conflicts are on the rise. These trends undermine livelihoods by threatening rural people’s access to land and tenure security. Women tend to be disproportionately affected as available land diminishes, disadvantaged by weak land rights and limited participation in decision-making processes. Alongside gender-discriminatory practices, rural populations’ slim knowledge of land governance further jeopardises women’s access to land and tenure security, as their existing rights go unrecognised. To address this, an approach that supports communities to adopt village bylaws has been trialled, with promising results. The participatory development of local rules that are inclusive and ‘gender sensitive’ helps to promote stronger and more equitable land governance, by clarifying processes at local level and ensuring both men and women are involved in making decisions on land issues.

  • July 2019

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  • Nicole Mathot

Argues that sexual extortion or ‘sextortion’ is a pervasive but often hidden form of corruption in which instead of money as a bribe, sexual favours are extorted in exchange for the provision of services or goods. This touches the land sector but remains largely hidden and unaddressed. It often occurs where land governance and women’s rights are weak. In traditional anti-corruption discourse explicit references to human rights, including women’s rights, are rare. Cultural barriers and the fear of stigmatization and retaliation also play a part in this under-reporting. Cites the work of Mokoro’s Elizabeth Daley and her Women’s Land Tenure Security Project (WOLTS) in Tanzania and Mongolia which found examples of sextortion occurring as access to communal pastoral land decreased due to expanding mining activities. Daley believes that social norms can be influenced to become more inclusive, and WOLTS has been testing approaches to building safe spaces where women and men, young and old, villagers and traditional leaders can meet and discuss the management of land and natural resources. Concludes that naming and shaming and literally spreading the word ‘sextortion’ is an important catalyst to finding ways to discuss this taboo issue and put it on the international political agenda.

(Originally published on the Land Portal).

  • July 2019

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  • IIED Briefing (Jeff Bamenjo, Sandrine Kouba & Brendan Schwartz)

For decades food insecurity has been a challenge in Cameroon’s Far North region, mainly due to extreme weather and weak land legislation. Now the problem is escalating. The current humanitarian crisis caused by the Boko Haram insurgency has resulted in over 87,000 refugees and 340,000 internally displaced people in the region. Humanitarian agencies are responding with food aid but little attention is given to underlying challenges, notably access to land. The reform of land legislation is an opportunity to strengthen land rights for local communities and marginalised groups. Devolving power to local institutions and ensuring secure land tenure for displaced people and host communities must be priorities to achieve sustainable food security for everyone.

  • July 2019

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  • IIED Briefing (Michelle Sonkoue & Samuel Nguiffo)

Cameroon’s current land law appears to have two conflicting objectives: to attract investors through large-scale land concessions; while protecting biodiversity, defending local people’s rights and promoting rural development. But the legislation governing large-scale land-based investments is outdated and sometimes incoherent. The land allocation process is investor driven and does not appropriately balance economic, social or environmental considerations. Overlaps between the habitats of great apes, community lands and recently established agro-industries pose a threat to conservation efforts and community livelihoods. Based on recent research, this article suggests land law reforms that the government of Cameroon could implement to effectively address these issues, including revising the concession allocation process so that relevant public authorities and local communities are involved and using Environmental and Social Impact Assessments to better inform decisions.

  • June 2019

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  • LEGEND Report (Clive English, Anna Locke, Julian Quan and Joseph Feyertag)

Reflects on the experience of DFID land programmes which include land tenure regularisation (LTR) across six countries (Guyana, Rwanda, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Mozambique), drawing wherever possible on relevant experiences of programmes driven by other donors. Summarises the drivers of LTR and land administration developments in different contexts experienced to date and includes wider evidence on successful LTR outcomes, factors influencing success and lessons learned in the design, implementation and follow-up of country land programmes and broader land support facilities.

  • June 2019

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  • GLTN

Presents an overview of 15 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa where land and natural resource tenure initiatives have been implemented over several decades by governments, civil society, the private sector and other developmental organisations. Features challenges, strategies and tools for increasing poor people’s access to secure land and natural resources. Allows for comparison between the selected countries to help practitioners, students and researchers to better grasp the complexities of dealing with land and natural resource tenure in these countries.

  • May 2019

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  • Remote Sensing Research Group, University of Bonn (Konrad Hentze)

The globally driven acquisition of land puts rural farmers across the globe at risk and Africa is the hotspot of global land grabbing. Shows the ongoing work of the Remote Sensing Research Group (RSRG), University of Bonn, to map land grabbing events in Southern Africa, with examples from Mozambique and Zambia. Provides an overview of current land grabbing databases, their lack of spatial information and how remote sensing datasets can overcome this lack when being used to detect large scale agricultural production schemes.

  • May 2019

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  • Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture

Covers: background; vision and driving agenda: land reform for what?; the context; refocusing land reform; summary of views regarding expropriation without compensation; the panel’s recommendations for immediate action, to refocus land reform policy, and towards a consolidated land reform policy framework; critical success factors; and areas of panel disagreement. The Panel’s view is that swift action for policy certainty is key, with improved governance, anti-corruption and transparency. Prioritising state capability and skills development across the board is important. The proposed shifts in property structure and land acquisition strategies open possibilities for inclusive development and maximise opportunities for a diversified industrial base. This accommodates new players and encourages more labour-absorbing activities with empowerment of women, youth and people with disabilities. The proposals push for planning approaches that enhance rural urban linkages, and a space economy that integrates living and work critical for inclusive growth. Not surprisingly, the report has provoked a variety of strong responses in South Africa.

  • April 2019

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  • GRAIN

Argues that companies come prepared to take over the land, and communities in West and Central Africa must prepare to resist. Stresses the importance of a community speaking with one voice, and then lists twelve tactics that companies use to obtain access to company land. Considers questions such as:

  • How do companies trick communities into agreeing to give them control over their land?
  • Why are empty promises made by the company about generating local employment or health and education facilities so effective in convincing communities to allow them onto their land?
  • What can communities do to stop the theft of their land, and the destruction of the local water springs, creeks, rivers, forests and other places that are affected by the plantations?
  • What can communities do in situations where the company has already taken their land?
  • Why do projects promoted by some companies and governments in which peasant farmers grow oil palm under contract for the company result in debt and poverty for participating farmers?
  • April 2019

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  • Zimbabweland (Ian Scoones)

One of the most striking things about some of the study sites in the A1 (smallholder) land reform schemes of Zimbabwe is the amount of small-scale irrigation going on. This is not on schemes or in formalised group gardens, but irrigation by individual farmers, many using small pump sets and pipes. This has been investigated in Masvingo, in Mvurwi in high-potential Mashonaland East, and in Chikobedzi in Chiredzi district in the dry lowveld. It seems to be a widespread phenomenon but is emerging largely unnoticed and unsupported. If the patterns seen in these studies sites are representative, this implies a very large and expanding irrigated area driven by individual initiative, largely unrecognised by agricultural and irrigation policy. This is perhaps the beginnings of a new ‘green revolution’ led by farmers. Contains an article ‘Irrigating Africa: can small-scale farmers lead the way?’. Argues that as Zimbabwe contemplates new land and agriculture policies, farmer-led irrigation approaches must be central.

  • March 2019

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  • Trocaire

Includes: why a focus on corporate accountability?; communities at the frontline; corporations: the accountability challenge; the way forward: legislative and policy opportunities; recommendations: action on accountability. Argues that devastating human rights violations will continue to occur with impunity unless we move beyond voluntary approaches and bring in a legally binding treaty on business and human rights. The size, influence and complexity of corporations pose major challenges for states to hold them to account. Impunity regarding human rights abuses by companies is increasing. Communities seeking to protect their human rights from the actions of corporations face growing levels of violence and intimidation. States and corporations often combine to supress communities who oppose large-scale developments on their lands. Growing numbers of human rights defenders are risking their lives.

  • March 2019

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  • Zimbabweland (Ian Scoones)

Two new papers by Sandra Bhatasara and Kirk Helliker on land occupations in Shamva and Bindura Districts, Mashonaland Central, are analysed. They offer nuanced accounts of what happened. As previous studies have shown, the story is not straightforward. Includes history and memory, organising occupations, the occupiers, rise of the party-state, why does this history matter? Concludes that together these two papers shed important light on the land occupation period. The occupations were initially an anti-state/party protest, largely autonomous and decentralised, but the war veterans made strategic bargains – in exchange for police protection, transport, food and so on. The state in turn recognised the need to accommodate the invaders and find space for elite demand for land in the A2 schemes, and so shift tack around the ‘illegality’ of the invasions creating the ‘fast-track’ programme. While the result was certainly a dramtic shift in agrarian structure, the tentative period of radical challenge was quickly undermined.

  • March 2019

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  • APRA Brief 18, Future Agricultures Consortium

A new wave of agricultural commercialisation is being promoted across Africa’s eastern seaboard, by a broad range of influential actors – from international corporations to domestic political and business elites. Growth corridors, linking infrastructure development, mining and agriculture for export, are central to this, and are generating a new spatial politics as formerly remote borders and hinterlands are expected to be transformed through foreign investment and aid projects. In this study the authors have been asking: what actually happens on the ground, even when corridors as originally planned are slow to materialise? Do the grand visions play out as expected? Who is involved and who loses out? To answer these questions, APRA research into growth corridors has focused on three key examples: the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT), the Lamu Port and South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor, and the Beira and Nacala corridors in Mozambique.

  • March 2019

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  • LEGEND (Lorenzo Cotula, Thierry Berger & Brendan Schwartz)

Bilateral development finance institutions (DFIs) play an increasingly prominent role in the international aid architecture. Because of their position between development and commercial worlds, DFIs can be a key player in efforts to align private sector conduct with international norms and standards. However, land rights issues are often complex and the stakes are high, partly due to the close relationship that exists between land and human rights. Several governments are encouraging their DFIs to work in more difficult environments – including fragile states and post-conflict situations – where land challenges are even more acute. So DFIs may need support to effectively address land rights issues. Report reviews the approaches European and North American bilateral DFIs use to address land rights issues in the agriculture sector and assesses whether the policies and practices that the DFIs apply in environmental and social matters adequately address land right issues.

  • March 2019

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  • IIED Briefing (Brendan Schwartz, Lorenzo Cotula, Masalu Luhula, Tomaso Ferrando & Hayden Fairburn)

A recent wave of large-scale commercial investments in agriculture, extractive industries and other land-based sectors has compounded the ‘global resource squeeze’ in low- and middle-income countries. But many communities affected by land rights violations struggle to assert their rights or obtain redress. Demand for legal support outstrips resources and what is available is not always appropriate. Pursuing litigation often presents significant obstacles and risks to the communities involved without offering any certain outcomes. To complement litigation efforts, this briefing suggests that an alternative and flexible mechanism to defending land rights is more effective – tailored to the local context and supporting communities to make informed decisions about what forms of redress to pursue. This approach should strengthen land governance processes in the longer term – but requires investment and commitment from donors, local partners and other legal empowerment practitioners.

  • February 2019

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  • Bread for All

Covers rights violations in Liberia – responsibility in Switzerland; rubber and Socfin in Switzerland; evictions for plantation expansions; access to food and water; violence on the plantations; limited opportunities for jobs and schooling; conclusions; bibliography.

  • February 2019

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  • FIAN Belgium

Since the arrival of multinational agribusiness company SOCFIN in 2011 as part of a large-scale investment in palm oil in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone, social conflict has raged in the Malen Chiefdom. SOCFIN is controlled by a Belgian businessman (Hubert Fabri) and the French group Bolloré, which has developed a business empire in many parts of Africa. This report found that affected communities who have lost access to and control over their land have been exposed to serious human rights violations and abuses since 2011. Several issues emerged, spanning from the rights to land, food, water and a healthy environment, to workers’ rights, women’s rights, the rights of the elderly and the right to education. Added to this are serious violations and abuses of civil and political rights, including the rights to peaceful assembly and association, physical integrity and clear cases of criminalization of human rights defenders. The report also points to serious allegations of corruption, lack of transparency and non-implementation of corporate social responsibility promises by SOCFIN.

  • February 2019

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  • ODI and TMP (Anna Locke, Lou Munden, Joseph Feyertag & Benedick Bowie)

Tenure risk – or the risk of dispute between investors and local people over land or natural resource claims – is endemic in emerging markets. There are hundreds of recorded incidents of tenure disputes creating delays, violence, project cancellation and even bankruptcy at a corporate level. These tenure disputes create lose-lose outcomes for investors, local people and national governments, while robbing emerging markets of the developmental benefits of responsible land investments. However, many investors are unaware of the problem or lack the time and resources to address it. Others lack the means to quantify the risks to business of tenure disputes. This report – based on consultation with business operating across the African supply chain – shines a spotlight on the severity of the issue and shows that tenure disputes can create substantial financial losses. It also presents a new publicly available tool, the Tenure Risk Tool, that investors can use to assess and manage tenure risk.

  • January 2019

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  • The Oakland Institute

In advance of the release of the World Bank’s 2019 Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) report, the Oakland Institute exposes the Bank’s new scheme to privatize land in the developing world. It details how the Bank’s prescribed reforms, via a new land indicator in the EBA project, promotes large-scale land acquisitions and the expansion of agribusinesses in the developing world. Initiated as a pilot in 38 countries in 2017, the land indicator is expected to be expanded to 80 countries in 2019. The project is funded by the US and UK governments and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The EBA’s main recommendations to governments include formalizing private property rights, easing the sale and lease of land for commercial use, systematizing the sale of public land by auction to the highest bidder, and improving procedures for expropriation. Countries are scored on how well they implement the Bank’s policy advice. The scores then help determine the volume of aid money and foreign investment they receive.

  • January 2019

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  • New Vision (Fredrick Mugira and Annika McGinnis)

A new report by the Climate Land Ambition and Rights Alliance (CLARA) has linked land grabbing to worsening climate change, calling on governments to secure community land rights to protect the world’s natural resources such as ‘forests’ that mitigate effects of climate change. It highlights the role of forest communities and indigenous people in protecting forests as carbon sinks and why it is important to recognise their land rights. Land grabbing by multinational corporations mostly for ‘commodity agriculture and mining activities’ is causing a double tragedy: denying indigenous peoples’ rights to own land and failing the battle against climate change as trees are cut. Cites examples of the Batwa people of Uganda and from the DR Congo.

  • January 2019

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  • IIED (Lorenzo Cotula, Emily Polack, Thierry Berger & Brendan Schwartz)

New public policies and changing economic fundamentals have spurred private sector investment in commercial agriculture in low- and middle-income countries. Growing numbers of policies and programmes aim to integrate small-scale rural producers into agricultural value chains, based on concepts such as ‘inclusive business’ and ‘shared value’. But significant questions remain over how best to: recognise the possibly divergent visions, interests and constraints of various actors, and the risks and trade-offs that can arise; address often substantial power imbalances that affect value chain relations; and ultimately support genuine agency among rural producers and their communities – that is, their ability to make choices, take action and influence realities around them. This report explores whether socio-legal empowerment might help address these issues. It develops a conceptual framework to further understand, test and strengthen the contribution of socio-legal empowerment to enhancing the agency of rural actors as they engage with, or are affected by, commercial agriculture.

  • January 2019

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  • Catherine Boone, The Journal of Development Studies, 55:3, 384-400

Land registration and titling in Africa are often advocated as a pro-poor legal empowerment strategy. Advocates have put forth different visions of the substantive goals this is to achieve. Some see registration and titling as a way to protect smallholders’ rights of access to land. Others frame land registration as part of community-protection or ethno-justice agendas. Still others see legal empowerment in the market-enhancing commodification of property rights. This paper contrasts these different visions, showing that each entails tensions and trade-offs. The analysis helps explain why land law reforms aiming at legal empowerment may be controversial or divisive in African countries.

© 2018 UNU-WIDER. Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis GroupThis is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.

  • December 2018

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  • Vivek Maru (Namati) & Varun Gauri (World Bank) Eds, Cambridge University Press

A book covering six countries, including South Africa, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Community paralegals seek to demystify law and empower people to advocate for themselves. Each chapter contains vivid accounts of paralegals helping communities to take on injustice. Explores questions such as: how have community paralegals adapted to and influenced their changing political contexts, from repressive regimes like apartheid South Africa to newfound democracies and, in some cases, back towards repression? Is it possible for paralegals to receive public funding without sacrificing their independence? What are five qualities of the most effective paralegals, and how can organisations nurture those qualities?

  • December 2018

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  • CADASTA (Frank Pichel and Madaleine Weber)

A functioning land administration sector is the foundation for economic growth. Unfortunately, effective land registry and cadastral systems with national coverage exist in only a fraction of the world’s countries. Cadasta Foundation is working to overcome this challenge by developing simple digital tools and technology to help partners efficiently document, analyse, store, and share critical land and resource rights information. By creating an accessible digital record of land, property, and resource rights, Cadasta works to empower individuals, organisations, communities, governments, and businesses with the information they need to make data-driven decisions and put vulnerable communities and their needs on the map.

  • November 2018

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  • GRAIN

Money from pension funds has fuelled the financial sector’s massive move into farmland investing over the past decade. The number of pension funds involved in farmland investment and the amount of money they are deploying into it is increasing, under the radar. This unprecedented take-over of farmland by financial companies has major implications for rural communities and food systems, and must be challenged. Leaving it to the companies to police themselves with their own voluntary guidelines is a recipe for disaster.

  • November 2018

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  • PASTRES (Pastoralism, Resilience and Uncertainty) Ian Scoones

Pastoralists in Isiolo county in northern Kenya feel under siege, with their way of life under threat. Isiolo has been the home of the Waso Boran pastoralists for many decades, but attacks from neighbouring Somali herders, encroachments by agriculturalists from Meru, expansion of conservancies and planned road, pipeline and resort city mega-projects are affecting all pastoral livelihoods, creating many new risks and environmental uncertainties. Droughts are occurring more frequently. Market uncertainties are important, regarding access to milk, meat and live animals. But political and institutional uncertainties dominated discussions with locals. Disputes with neighbours and the planned expansion of investments, including the LAPSSET corridor and the Northern Rangeland Trust conservancies were hot topics.

  • October 2018

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  • CLARA (Climate Land Ambition and Rights Alliance)

Report provides an alternate response to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s request to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) to analyse impacts of warming to 1.5°C and related greenhouse gas emission pathways. Covers strengthening indigenous and community land rights, restoring forests and other ecosystems, and transforming agriculture. Confines solution pathways to low-risk land-sector approaches that protect, restore and sustainably manage natural ecosystems, while respecting human rights. Asks what level of climate ambition can be based on approaches that are already available, and that safeguard food security and food sovereignty, land rights, and biodiversity?

  • October 2018

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  • IISD (Mohamed Coulibaly)

In June 2018, the President of Burkina Faso enacted a new agriculture investment code, aiming at promoting productive investments in livestock, fisheries, forestry and fauna management. It establishes an enabling environment and creates incentives to boost investment in the targeted sectors. Despite some shortcomings that can be fixed through implementation, the code is an important step in the right direction to attract responsible investment. It also provides more clarity and coherence for investors while strengthening the existing legal and regulatory system governing issues such as land and labour rights, environmental protections, and tax obligations.

  • October 2018

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  • IWMI Research Report 173 (Barbara van Koppen and Barbara Schreiner)

In recent decades, many countries in sub-Saharan Africa have pursued national water permit systems, derived from the colonial era and reinforced by “global best practice.” These systems have proved logistically impossible to manage and have worsened inequality in water access. This study traces the origins of these systems, and describes their implementation and consequences for rural smallholders in Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The authors  propose a hybrid water use rights system to decolonize Africa’s water law, lighten the administrative burden on the state and make legal access to water more equitable. This would strengthen smallholder irrigation, which is vital for boosting Africa’s food production and making it more resilient in the face of worsening drought.

  • October 2018

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  • Ian Scoones (Zimbabweland)

There are many misconceptions about farming in southern Africa, and one of the most insidious is the notion of ‘viability’. A narrow economistic version has predominated that is based on a normative vision of farming based on full-time, large-scale commercial production. But taking a wider view, what is viable can take different forms more appreciative of the diverse ways farming is intertwined with wider livelihoods, and across different scales. Too often the dominant framing has been allied to strong normative, racially-inflected, colonial assumptions, supported today by well-articulated political and commercial interests, hooked into a long history of the assumed benefits of a dualistic agrarian system where modern, large-scale agriculture is seen as the ideal. Shedding these blinkered perspectives can be tough, but is certainly necessary.

  • October 2018

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  • Front Page Africa

An analysis of the recently approved Land Rights Bill. The law now divides all Liberia’s lands into four categories, private land (deeded land owned by one or more than one person), government lands (land owned by the government and used for government activities) public lands (all lands that are not government, customary or private lands) and customary land (land owned and managed by a community according to their customary norms and tradition). The local Sustainable Development Institute is pleased to announce that the most progressive aspect of the Bill is granting customary land rights to over 80% of the population.

  • September 2018

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  • Luregn Lenggenhager & Romie Vonkie Nghitevelekwa (The Conversation)

The shortcomings of the current land reforms suggest that voluntary, market-based transactions of land might not be a suitable measure to redistribute land, not to speak of wealth and power. The “policy” of national reconciliation has delivered one-sided benefits. The politics of national reconciliation are used to justify the status quo – an avoidance strategy to address the structural problems in Namibia. A more radical approach must be considered to redistribute land and capital. Only then will formerly disadvantaged people become equal co-owners of Namibia’s land and wealth.

  • September 2018

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  • Reuters

An analysis of women’s ongoing struggles to secure their land rights in Malawi, where women own only 17% of documented land.

  • September 2018

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  • Rachel Knight & Kaitlin Cordes

Namati and the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI) have published two new guides to help communities prepare for interactions with investors and, if they so wish, negotiate fair, equitable contracts.  Namati’s Rachael Knight and CCSI’s Kaitlin Cordes describe why and how these guides came to be.

  • August 2018

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  • UN-Habitat, IIRR & GLTN

Publication shows how addressing land issues can mitigate conflict, facilitate solutions to it, improve the likelihood that people can return to their homes after the violence is over, and contribute to peace overall. Draws on cases in nine countries in the Arab States, Africa and Latin America, with a range of conflict parties: farmers, herders, landlords, villagers, mining companies, host communities, displaced people, gangs, and various levels of government. The cases and analysis describe how various land-related approaches have been used throughout the conflict cycle, from conflict prevention through humanitarian assistance, recovery and development. While each conflict is different, the emphasis is on practical tools and methods that can be adapted to suit the situation. The African countries are: DR Congo (interventions to prevent evictions of subsistence farming communities), Somalia (land tenure agreements to protect internally displaced people in Baidoa from eviction), Sudan (intercommunal reconciliation of land disputes in Darfur), and South Sudan (migration dialogues to prevent conflict between host communities and pastoralists).

  • August 2018

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  • LANDac Policy Brief 6 (Caitlin Ryan)

Research in Sierra Leone reveals that the role of Paramount Chiefs and MPs in approaching communities for negotiations compromised Free, Prior and Informed Consent. Companies and local authority figures used vague references to ‘development’ to convince landowners to sign. There are a number of investments that could be classed as ‘speculative’ while customary decision-making regarding the agreement to lease land excluded women, junior men, and members of non-land-owning families.

  • August 2018

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  • Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Working Paper 17 (Blessings Chinsinga, Chancellor College, University of Malawi)

Examines the political economy of agricultural commercialisation in Malawi over the past three decades, which has been influenced to a very large extent by the changing configurations of political elites and their underlying interests, incentives and motivations, including using the agricultural sector as a source of political patronage, fraud and corruption. The contemporary vision of large-scale agriculture as the primary driver for agricultural commercialisation has not been effectively implemented due to pervasive chronic food security challenges since the late 1990s, epitomised by the implementation of the Farm Input Subsidy Programme and the political sensitivity of the land question upon which its success depends. The commercialisation agenda is further dictated by the primacy of politics over ideas, which makes it extremely difficult for policymakers to forge ahead with the practical implementation of certain ideas because they are generally seen as being less politically expedient.

  • August 2018

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  • Divergente

In 2008, the world food crisis shifted agricultural investment to countries with productive land and cheap labour. The Nacala Corridor, one of the most fertile and populated areas of Mozambique, was heavily affected. At least 38 companies linked to large-scale agriculture, forestry and animal husbandry settled in the region. Thousands of peasant farmers were dispossessed of their land and are still waiting for the promises of a better life to come true. This web documentary seeks to give a voice to some of those affected by this land grab.

  • August 2018

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  • LANDac Policy Brief 6 (Caitlin Ryan)

Research in Sierra Leone reveals that the role of Paramount Chiefs and MPs in approaching communities for negotiations compromised Free, Prior and Informed Consent. Companies and local authority figures used vague references to ‘development’ to convince landowners to sign. There are a number of investments that could be classed as ‘speculative’ while customary decision-making regarding the agreement to lease land excluded women, junior men, and members of non-land-owning families. Concludes with policy recommendations.

  • July 2018

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  • LANDac

The Netherlands Land Academy (LANDac), the Food & Business Knowledge Platform, CIFOR and Shared Value Foundation (SVF) jointly set out in 2017 to design and implement 3 multi-stakeholder Learning Platforms around investment hubs in Mozambique (the Beira Corridor), Tanzania (Kilombero Valley) and Uganda (the Jinja-Kampala Corridor). Land-based investments have shown that deals often lead to conflicts between investors and local populations, which negatively effects local livelihoods and food security. A main issue in these conflicts is the lack of information at and knowledge about the local level. Hence the project aimed to bring different stakeholders together, improve the quality and flow of information between these actors, and generate new ideas for creating shared value. Over the course of one year, SVF conducted in-depth, local research, organized multi-stakeholder meetings and conducted follow-up activities for implementation and monitoring. The final synthesis report presents the methodology, the outcomes as well as the experiences and lessons learned throughout the project. It is accompanied by the 3 country reports.

  • July 2018

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  • Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands)

Report shows that Dutch-based banks continue to finance deforestation and land grabbing in Liberia. Thousands have lost their homes, local communities have been intimidated or imprisoned, and large swathes of forest have been cleared or burnt down. Milieudefensie argues that it is time for the banks to fulfil their sustainable banking promises, and to withdraw their investments in the industrial palm oil sector as soon as possible.

  • July 2018

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  • World Resources Institute

Indigenous and community lands, crucial for rural livelihoods, are typically held under informal customary arrangements. This can leave the land vulnerable to outside commercial interests, so communities may seek to formalize their land rights in a government registry and obtain an official land document. But this process is often time-consuming, complex and costly and, in contrast, companies can acquire land relatively quickly and find short-cuts around regulatory burdens. Report maps these inequities in 15 countries (including Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda) and offers recommendations on how to level the playing field.

  • June 2018

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  • Le monde diplomatique (Stefano Liberti)

A history of the successful resistance by Mozambican villagers and the farmers’ union UNAC against Africa’s biggest agro-industrial programme, ProSavana, which was an attempt, funded by Brazil and Japan, to transform northern Mozambique’s Nacala Corridor into Brazil’s Mato Grosso, despite the glaringly obvious differences between the two.

  • June 2018

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  • GRAIN

GRAIN has documented at least 135 farmland deals for food crop production that have backfired between 2007 and 2017. They represent 17.5 million hectares. These are not failed land grabs, since the land almost never goes back to the communities, but failed agribusiness projects. While higher standards of due diligence and stronger forms of liability are surely needed, the real challenge is to get the land back to the communities. No one should rest until that is achieved. The enormity and number of these failed farmland deals tell us that they should never have been allowed to happen in the first place. Investment is needed in policies and initiatives to support food production by local communities, not opening the doors to agribusiness.

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