Land Rights publications

Land Rights in Africa publications from various sources

  • April 2017

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  • FIAN

Contains framing human rights in the global land rush; the impact of land grabbing on human rights; EU actors’ involvement in land grabbing; understanding investment webs; 5 mechanisms linking the EU to land grabs; the extraterritorial obligations of the EU and its member states; the EU’s response to land grabbing; conclusions and recommendations.

  • March 2017

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  • SLE (Seminar für Ländliche Entwicklung / Centre for Rural Development, Humboldt University, Berlin)

Attempts to fill a gap by providing a pragmatic instrument which can be applied quickly and with comparatively few resources. Focuses on corruption risks rather than searching for offenders, so allowing open discussion, and on structural corruption risks and related solutions. Encourages coalitions between all crucial stakeholders and helps them develop joint counter-measures. Includes case studies from Kenya.

  • March 2017

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  • IIED (Catriona Knapman, Laura Silici, Lorenzo Cotula & James Mayers)

In sub-Saharan Africa the pace and scale at which land is changing hands are increasing fast. Summarises findings from a research project – including case studies in Ghana, Senegal, Mozambique, and Uganda – to improve understanding of these changes by addressing 3 main questions: How is land access changing in rural Africa, and what are the major drivers of change? How are these changes affecting rural livelihoods? What are the implications of these changes for development policy and practice? Recommendations focus on the need and means to: reform policy and practice to keep pace with fast moving change; support smallholder farming and off-farm employment; invest in local institutions for smallholder farming to thrive; and monitor changes in land access.

  • March 2017

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  • IIED Briefing (Sophia Baumert and Isilda Nhantumbo)

The investigation of soya production in Central Mozambique presented here suggests small-scale farming can produce similar profits to large-scale operations and better social outcomes. Concentrating only on large-scale investments can mean forgoing opportunities for rural development and poverty reduction. With the right support, poorer households can develop market-oriented farming that contributes to local value chains at many levels.

  • March 2017

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  • LEGEND Land Policy Bulletin Issue 7

This seventh issue of the LEGEND bulletin considers the impact that new technology can have on documenting land rights and democratising access to land data around the world. Includes land rights and tenure security at the click of a button?; how mobiles and clouds can democratise land rights; Namati’s experience of using GeoODK: the potential and pitfalls of participatory GPS mapping processes; CADASTA’s work in developing documenting and mapping tools.

  • February 2017

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  • PLAAS (Emmanuel Sulle and Rebecca Pointer)

Looking at several large-scale land deals in Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, this documentary film highlights the nuanced impacts of these investments. Small-scale farmers and producers, national government officials, and African policy-makers unpack the deals, showing that there are winners and losers when providing investors access to large tracts of land in Africa. For example, land deals impact differently on women and youth, and altering land regimes also impacts on access to other natural resources such as water, fish, and local indigenous vegetables. The various case studies discussed in the documentary raise issues that all stakeholders need to consider when making land deals.

  • February 2017

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  • RRI Annual Review 2016-2017

Includes tenure risk, conflict, and the path to prosperity, 2016 in depth: fear, violence and defence, communities face ever increasing criminalization and violence for practicing their traditional livelihoods and protecting their lands. Breakthroughs to scale: indigenous peoples and communities make major gains in protecting their land rights. Development finance institutions emerge as potential leaders on community land rights. Companies are slow to implement commitments and change business models. The Paris Agreement is in limbo: some governments show progress, while others stall reforms and actively roll back rights. Priorities for Progress in 2017.

  • February 2017

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  • IDS (Steps Centre)

Looks at how the ESRC STEPS Centre intervened in debates on land grabbing following the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008, and how its work led it on to explore the impacts of ‘green grabs’ and ‘water grabs’, carbon offsetting, the green economy, the financialisation of nature, the Anthropocene and other aspects of ‘resource politics’.

  • January 2017

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  • IISD (Kathleen Sexsmith)

Contains framework for analysing the gender impacts of foreign investment in agriculture; gender analysis of the certification criteria of voluntary sustainability standards and responsible investment frameworks; do voluntary sustainability standards improve gender equality?; lessons for responsible investment frameworks and recommendations.

  • January 2017

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  • IIED (Eleusio Filipe and Simon Norfolk)

In Mozambique, changes in land access and use are shaping new landscapes, often at the expense of the poor. Despite progressive land legislation, elite groups and vested interests are consolidating land holdings while peasant producers are being dispossessed of their land and access to fertile plots is becoming increasingly difficult. As national and foreign investors seek land for housing, real estate, agriculture, tourism, mining and forestry, what is the state’s role in responding to these increased demands? Policy must focus on improving land administration and land-use planning processes – understanding and appreciating the social, economic and cultural costs to poor communities caused by the loss of access to natural resources.

  • December 2016

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  • George C. Schoneveld, Geoforum, 30, 2016

Contributes to the research gap on host country governance dynamics by synthesizing results and lessons from 38 case studies conducted in Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and Zambia. It shows how and why large-scale farmland investments are often synonymous with displacement, dispossession, and environmental degradation and, thereby, highlights 7 outcome determinants that merit more explicit treatment in academic and policy discourse. They are: deficiencies in the law; elite capture; co-optation and conflicts of interests; capacity constraints and cross-accountability; high modernist ideologies; lack of collective action and contestation; and incompatibility of production systems.

  • December 2016

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  • IIED (Godfrey Massay)

Training volunteers to help their communities defend their land rights has proved an effective approach for promoting land justice in Tanzania. Report documents how Hakiardhi, a Dar-es-Salaam based research institute working on land governance issues, has established and trained a 600-strong network of male and female ‘Land Rights Monitors’ (LRMs) operating in 300 villages on various aspects of the land law, so they can help people and local governments to exercise and ensure respect for their legal rights in land disputes, particularly in relation to large-scale agricultural investments. Examples of successful interventions by LRMs suggest that this approach holds considerable potential and replicability.

  • December 2016

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  • LEGEND Briefing

Land corruption ranges from petty bribes to government kickbacks and political patronage. Research has found that frequently public officials grant access to land or land-related services in exchange for bribes and favours. Commercial land developers seeking amenable planning decisions may collude with officials and community leaders. Local elites seeking to attract foreign investment may also exert undue influence over decisions relating to land titles or new developments at the expense of poor communities with rightful claims to the land. Explores the causes of land corruption and sets out positive actions businesses, governments, funders and civil society can take to reduce the risk of corruption and safeguard vulnerable communities.

  • December 2016

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  • Landesa

Seeks to answer the question, where collective tenure arrangements are either being formalized or supported for the sake of securing the community’s rights to land, what steps are required to strengthen women’s land rights in the process? Synthesizes findings from case studies in China, Ghana, India, the Kyrgyz Republic, Namibia, and Peru that assess interventions to strengthen collective tenure and ensure that both women and men benefit from improved land tenure security. The purpose was to understand how formalizing or securing rights to collectively held lands can affect women and men differently and how projects and interventions can best address gender differences. The focus is on practice, not theory, with the goal of informing the implementation of other similar interventions.

  • November 2016

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  • Marjorie Mbilinyi (The Citizen)

Three separate ‘on my mind’ articles by Professor Mbilinyi: Making National Land Policy inclusive and people-centred; In whose interest will this National Land Policy be?; Questions about the National Land Policy, 2016. Draft NLP just released for external consultation. Shares the views of other researchers. Critical issues include questionable statistics, compensation woes, need to be inclusive and people-centred, to recognise and strengthen the power of Village Councils and Village Assemblies to oversee land allocations and use, and for  Swahili and popular versions and more time for wide consultation. Major conflict of interest between large-scale commercial companies and small-scale producers. Enormous pressure from banks and agribusiness to provide more land for large-scale commercial investments. Researchers deny claim that there is abundant land for distribution.

Download the articles here:

ON MY MIND : Making National Land Policy inclusive and people-centred

ON MY MIND : In whose interest will this National Land Policy be?

ON MY MIND : Questions about the National Land Policy, 2016

  • November 2016

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  • FAO (Governance of Tenure Technical Guide 6)

Builds on a number of initiatives and studies from recent years that have shone a light on pastoral governance and land tenure: on the inherent challenges pastoralists face, the shortcomings of governments in securing pastoral tenure, and emerging examples of success and progress from around the world. Provides solutions to securing pastoral governance and tenure without undermining the inherent complexity of customary arrangements within a rapidly changing context.  Designed for several audiences including those who are looking for practical guidance on how to proceed in securing pastoral land tenure.

  • November 2016

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  • ICAR and Global Witness (Olivier De Schutter)

Section I provides an overview of large-scale land deals. It assesses the trend at a global level and examines structural obstacles faced by efforts to regulate such deals. Section II focuses on corruption as a major obstacle to improving the protection of local communities and indigenous peoples whose livelihood, identities, and traditional ways of life depend on the use of local lands and natural resources. This phenomenon is largely understudied because corruption, by its very nature, is hidden and therefore poorly documented. Section III explores domestic legislation, international treaties and multi-stakeholder initiatives that have aimed to address various aspects of corruption and land rights issues. Section IV concludes by offering a set of policy recommendations targeted toward investors, banks and other financial institutions, states where investments in land are made, and states where investors are headquartered.

  • November 2016

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  • Robert Kibugi, Ibrahim Mwathane and Mwenda Makathimo

A case study of the situation in Lamu, Isiolo and Siaya Counties by the Land Development and Governance Institute (LDGI). Includes local community experience with land administration and tenure security; law, policy, international context and practice – compulsory acquisition, involuntary settlement and displacement; compensation during compulsory land acquisition – the legal entitlement and methodologies of land valuation; exploring alternatives to compulsory acquisition by creating a continuum between economic and physical planning; community benefits in context of land acquisition and implementation of investments.

  • November 2016

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  • Gender Resource Faculty in collaboration with Kadaster International, LANDac, Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oxfam Novib & Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation

A discussion paper attempting to take stock of what works and does not work in interventions seeking to promote and enhance women’s land rights. Looks at both individual and community land tenure, rural and urban land, arable and forest land. Describes a variety of interventions in as much detail as possible to understand why the intervention worked or not. Makes recommendations for scaling up women’s land rights.

  • November 2016

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  • GRAIN

European and US development funds are bankrolling palm oil company Feronia Inc despite land and labour conflicts at its plantations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. New information now raises questions as to whether the Canadian-based company misused millions of taxpayer dollars destined for international aid by way of companies connected to a high-level DRC politician.

  • October 2016

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  • LEGEND Evidence update 2 (Kristina Lanz and Elizabeth Daley, Mokoro)

Includes moving the focus from women to gender; women, access to land and empowerment; good practice in the DRC and Rwanda; land reform, land titling and tenure security; gender and agricultural investment; recommendations with an emphasis on understanding the local contexts, the need for training and monitoring; and implementing the Voluntary Guidelines with respect to gender.

  • October 2016

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  • Caitlin Ryan, Department of International Relations and International Organization, University of Groningen

This policy brief is based on research that examines women’s security in the context of large-scale land deals in West Africa. It focuses on Northern Sierra Leone and the impact of biofuels investment projects in Port Loko district, recommending three key changes.

  • October 2016

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  • WOMEN to Kilimanjaro

The Kilimanjaro Initiative is a rural women’s mobilisation from across Africa towards an iconic moment at the foot of Mt Kilimanjaro in October 2016. Objectives include raising awareness on existing frameworks and safeguards around large scale land based initiatives and demand for their application in securing legitimate tenure rights of rural women in Africa. Presents a charter of demands and recommendations.

  • October 2016

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  • Land Matrix (Kerstin Nolte, Wytske Chamberlain & Markus Giger)

Summary: Includes land acquisitions continue to be an important trend; a need for this new, updated report; agricultural land acquisitions are increasingly becoming operational; food crops dominate but also palm oil and fuel crops; Africa is the most targeted continent; large diversity in origin of investors; land acquisitions often target relatively highly populated areas dominated by croplands; local communities are often bypassed in negotiations, limited information on displacement and compensation; a need for further monitoring.

  • October 2016

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  • Lorenzo Cotula (IIED)

Discusses highlights from a recent academic article exploring whether 3,000 bilateral and regional investment treaties protect ‘land grab’ deals and how these impact the land rights of rural people. Argues that, if not properly thought through, international treaties to protect foreign investment could compound shortcomings of local and national governance, undermining the rights of people impacted by the investments.

  • September 2016

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  • Gillian Mathys and Koen Vlassenroot (Rift Valley Institute PSRP Briefing Paper 14)

Current interventions in land conflicts in the eastern Congo are focused on conflict management rather than conflict resolution. Land conflicts are part of a wider governance problem and need political rather than technical approaches. Conflicts over land are related to wider conflict dynamics, which are the result of an interplay between struggles for power and resources, identity narratives and territorial claims. There is a need for better donor coordination and more coherent land governance interventions, which should be integrated into larger state-building efforts.

  • September 2016

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  • ILC Brief

A brief on the need to secure land rights for the world’s pastoralists, who manage rangelands that cover a quarter of the world’s land surface but have few advocates. Covers the different paths pastoralists take; resource scarcity in the face of uncertainty; pastoralism and land use; loss and fragmentation of pastoralist lands and blocking of livestock routes; managing climatic variability and climate change; initiatives for securing pastoralists rights to land (Niger, Tanzania, India, Ethiopia).

Argues that common presumptions about pastoralists are not based on evidence and are usually very wide of the mark.

  • September 2016

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  • RISD (Annie Kairaba and Daale S. James) and Amira Kheir (ILC)

Impact of an intervention by the Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development (RISD) in contributing to the implementation of pro-poor and equitable land policies. Through evidence-based awareness raising efforts, dialogue, advocacy and networking, RISD was able to influence policy implementation and promote the land rights of poor and vulnerable groups, including women. Forms part of the ILC’s database of Good Practices.     

  • September 2016

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  • Sudan Democracy First Group (Mohyeldeen E. Taha)

Includes land regulatory framework; foreign direct investment and large-scale land acquisition; mechanized farming agriculture; lack of transparency and corruption in land use and allocation; land and conflict. Argues that land tenure insecurity has resulted from the imposition of formal law that does not recognize individual rights to unregistered land. State authorities have considered unregistered land to be state land and thus available to transfer to private commercial interests, the military, land speculators, and elites without regard for customary rights. Large-scale investments in land, water and other natural resources have fuelled a wide range of conflicts in the country.

  • September 2016

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  • Ben Cousins, PLAAS (Rural 21, Vol.50 Nr.3/2016)

A critical assessment of 22 years of land reform policies in South Africa. Concludes that land reform has been captured by elites. The most powerful voices are those of ‘emerging’ black capitalist farmers (often with non-farm incomes), traditional leaders, large-scale white commercial farmers and agribusiness corporates, who are all benefiting more than the poor.

  • August 2016

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  • Caritas Ghana

Contains background to land administration in Ghana; Laudato Si and land grabbing – the Ghanaian context; unmasking land grab – case studies; empowering communities to address land grabbing in Africa – lessons from Ghana; policy considerations and recommendations.

  • August 2016

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  • IDS Working Paper 478 (Lidia Cabral and Simon Norfolk)

Analyses inclusive land governance in Mozambique. Focuses on the country’s legal framework and the DUAT, the right to use and benefit from the land. The DUAT is a distinctive element of the Mozambican legislation that has land as the property of the state but recognises land use rights for occupants and users on the basis of a unitary system of tenure. The challenges of putting in practice what is thought to be one of Africa’s most progressive legal frameworks are discussed. These are set against a context where despite land abundance there are concerns over land grabbing and dispossession of rural communities, which constitute over 70 per cent of the country’s population. The law may be progressive but government politics are not, as an increasingly hegemonic elite controls Mozambique’s political system and resources.

  • August 2016

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  • LANDac Reflection Paper (Gerard Baltissen and Gemma Betsema)

Equitable access to land is vital for inclusive economic growth, sustainable development and food security. Much is known about the topics of land governance and food security, but it is not always clear how the two relate to each other, especially in specific country contexts. Brings together findings and outcomes from Uganda, Ghana and Ethiopia to provide policy recommendations for improved land governance and food security in Africa. Highlights national policies, institutions, and international frameworks; land administration and land use planning; responsible agribusiness investments; gender equity.

  • August 2016

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  • Landesa

Focuses on communal land and attempts to better understand the intersection of gender, communal land, and land reform in Namibia. Concentrates on two regions that adopted different approaches. The Oshana region leads the implementation of the nationwide Communal Land Reform Act, 2002, that introduced the registration of customary land rights in communal areas, while the Kavango region declined to participate in this and instead continues to independently administer customary land rights in accordance with its established customary system. Attempts to illustrate what measures can be implemented in different political, legal, and cultural contexts to enable communities facing similar situations to benefit from the experiences of others.

  • August 2016

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  • Landesa

Case study identifies good practices and lessons learned about including gender in a project designed to sensitize communities about the importance of securing land rights, build capacity of customary land secretariats, and provide alternative dispute resolution training to traditional authorities in the Northern Region of Ghana. The main recommendations: ensure messages are distinct and clear; support women’s groups to strengthen women’s confidence in the public arena; hold more frequent meetings that are responsive to ongoing questions; train in local languages; hold trainings at the local level; hold more frequent trainings and meetings, including follow-up trainings; address women’s issues directly in all trainings.

  • August 2016

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  • Frida Khan (ILC Land Governance in the 21st century: Framing the Debate Series)

Analyses inheritance laws and their impacts on rural women in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Senegal, Togo and Mali. Focuses on Muslim societies, but also looks at how these differed from or influenced the inheritance practices of non-Muslim groups. Shows that women continue to be systematically denied their rights to inheritance, especially in rural areas. Inheritance practices are deeply embedded in local culture and tradition and, even though civil and religious laws exist that protect women’s inheritance, customary laws are found to prevail, which largely exclude women from property ownership and inheritance.

  • July 2016

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  • IFPRI Discussion Paper 01545 (Hosaena Ghebru, Huma Khan and Isabel Lambrecht)

Using household- and plot-level data from Ghana, analyzes the main factors associated with farmers’ perceived tenure security. Individually, farmers perceive greater tenure security on plots acquired via inheritance than on land allocated by traditional authorities. But collectively, perceived tenure security lessens in communities with more active land markets and economic vibrancy. Migrant households and women in polygamous households feel less secure about their tenure, while farmers with political connections are more confident about their tenure security.

  • July 2016

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  • World Resources Institute Working Paper

Examines options for strengthening women’s participatory rights in the face of increasing commercial pressures on land in 3 countries: Mozambique, Tanzania, and the Philippines. Focuses on how regulatory reform – reforms in the rules, regulations, guidelines, and procedures that implement national land acquisition and investment laws – can promote gender equity and allow women to realize the rights afforded by national legal frameworks and international standards.

  • July 2016

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  • IISD (Investment in Agriculture Policy Brief 4)

With all the focus on land grabbing and food security, water issues tend to be an afterthought. Foreign investments tend to be concentrated around the main African river basins. Water resources are lifelines for locals, so understanding the legal framework governing investments is critical. Covers how abundant are Africa’s water resources?; what does the evidence show?; the legal framework governing water rights and farmland investments; domestic law and contracts; international investment, freshwater, environmental and human rights law; recommendations.

  • July 2016

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  • IIED (Nasieku Kisambu)

Despite progressive provisions on gender equality in Tanzania’s land laws, women have little representation in land allocation decisions. Mainstreaming gender in local regulations can help address this problem. The Tanzania Women Lawyers Association, in partnership with the World Resources Institute and Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team, developed model by-laws to improve women’s participation in local-level decision-making on village land management. This took place in Kidugalo and Vilabwa villages in Kisarawe district. They were developed through a bottom-up, participatory process, and include explicit provisions to promote meaningful participation by women in village-level decision making. Outlines the processes followed to develop the by-laws, the results so far, lessons learned and prospects for scaling up.

  • July 2016

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  • IIED (Man-Kwun Chan, Grace Kamugisha, Mary Kessi & Annmarie Mavenjina)

Provides a backdrop of relevant policies and practice; a gender analysis of the policy framework governing land and investments; and recommendations on how to work towards land rights securing and better inclusion in land governance processes for women in Tanzania. Concludes that implementation of laws, including key gender equality principles, has been weak, and gender inequality in land access persists largely due to the continued dominance of (patrilineal) customary land laws and practice.

  • July 2016

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  • IIED (Man-Kwun Chan & Annette Mbogh)

Primary aim is to provide a backdrop on relevant policies and practice, and to inform practitioners, policy makers and researchers about key governance issues relevant to the strengthening of women’s empowerment in community land stewardship and accountability in agricultural investments. Conducted in April 2016 on selected communities in Tana River County, providing an in-depth case study of the application of statutory and customary laws affecting women’s access to and management of land. Concludes that implementation of gender equality provisions has been weak overall.

  • June 2016

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  • Africa Research Institute Briefing Note (Nick Branson)

Summarises papers discussed at an April 2016 symposium on land, law and traditional leadership. Includes land redistribution: tinkering at the edges, tenure insecurity, courting the chiefs, echoes of apartheid, opportunities for enrichment, a way forward.

  • June 2016

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  • USAID LAND Project (Policy Research Brief 8)

Focuses on Article 30 of the Rwanda 2013 Land Law, which prohibits sub-division. Finds that implementation of Article 30 has not prevented land subdivisions, but rather encouraged informal subdivisions and transfers. Recommends that the provision should be reviewed.

  • 22-23 June 2016

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  • Robin Palmer (Mokoro)

A short paper providing background to the establishment of land alliances in East Africa in the 1990s. Includes introduction describing key factors which made possible the creation of land alliances, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, concluding thoughts – privatisation has offered very rich pickings for the rich in recent years.

Conference on The Politics of State Interventions on Land Rights in East Africa, IFRA, Nairobi

  • June 2016

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  • GRAIN (Against the Grain)

Eight years after releasing its first report on land grabbing GRAIN publishes a new dataset documenting nearly 500 cases of land grabbing around the world. Includes what exactly does the data tell us?, despite many failed deals, the problem is real, the food security agenda is still a factor driving farmland deals, agribusiness expansion is the main objective, the financial sector is a big player,offshore and illicit finance underpin these deals, farmland grabs are also water grabs, cause for hope: resistance is growing.

Download Annex 1: the complete list of current land deals from the GRAIN webiste

Download Annex 2: the main dataset of current land deals from the GRAIN website

  • June 2016

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  • IIED Briefing (Catriona Knapman and Philippine Sutz)

In much of sub-Saharan Africa, women have little say in decisions over land. Unless proactive steps are taken to enable women to have a stronger voice, large-scale agribusiness projects will leave them even more marginalised. Though there has been little research in this area, an emerging body of thinking and practice provides clear pointers as to how governments, NGOs and investors might mitigate such risks in future, particularly by explicitly addressing gender issues head-on from the very outset.

  • June 2016

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  • Lorenzo Cotula, Giedre Jokubauskaite and others (IIED)

The recent wave of land deals for agribusiness investments has highlighted the widespread demand for greater accountability in the governance of land and investment. Legal frameworks influence opportunities for accountability, and recourse to law has featured prominently in grassroots responses to the land deals. Drawing on comparative socio-legal research in Cameroon, Ghana and Senegal, this report explores how the law enables, or constrains, accountability in investment processes. It develops a conceptual framework for understanding accountability; assesses how national law in the 3 countries influences opportunities for accountability; and provides pointers for research and action.

  • June 2016

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  • USAID and International Alert

Report explores and analyses community perceptions of the obstacles facing women’s participation in decision-making about jointly held land. Also examines the factors that prevent women from participating in community-level decision-making structures, specifically those related to land. Conducted in 4  districts of Rwanda: Ngororero and Rutsiro (Western Province), Huye (Southern Province) and Ngoma (Eastern Province).