Land Rights publications

Land Rights in Africa publications from various sources

  • September 2017

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  • Robin Palmer (Mokoro)

A 78-page list, much of it pretty grim reading. Divided into reports and press cuttings, in alphabetical order. The reports section comprises a ‘1stXI’ of Future Agricultures Consortium, GRAIN, IIED, IISD, Mokoro, Oakland Institute, Oxfam, Pambazuka News, PLAAS, RRI and TNI, followed by a further 36 from Action Aid to the World Resources Institute. The press cuttings cover Global, Africa, 31 African countries or regions from Angola to Zimbabwe, followed by Middle East, Asia and China. Countries with greatest coverage are Ethiopia, Liberia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania. The URLs are correct as of today’s date.

  • 14 August 2017

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  • Ben Cousins (The Conversation)

Just published a new book, Untitled. Securing land tenure in urban and rural South Africa which disputes the argument that large-scale land titling is the solution to all land problems. Need for alternative approaches. Book offers an analysis of social tenures. Rights are often shared and overlapping and derive from accepted membership of a community or kinship group. Could provide a degree of official and legal recognition of rights within social tenures. Alternatives pose their own challenges but not an impossible task.

  • August 2017

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  • Review of African Political Economy

ROAPE’s Janet Bujra questions Marjorie Mbilinyi about her fifty years of campaigning against patriarchal oppression on many fronts in Tanzania. Mbilinyi traces the legitimisation of feminism as a means to understand and a way to organise for and with women. This is not a feminism lifted from Europe or the US, but one generated in response to Tanzanian and African realities. As a teacher, analyst and organiser, Marjorie Mbilinyi has inspired a generation to question patriarchy and to set up groups to study and fight against it collectively, and to do so in tandem with struggles against class oppression, neoliberalism and imperialism. She identifies and describes resistance not only from men in power but also from those who position themselves on the radical Left. Grateful to ROAPE for permission to reproduce this article on this website.

  • August 2017

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  • Francesca Di Matteo, EHESS, Marseille (LSE International Development Working Paper 185)

Independent Kenya failed to recognize customary interests in land as possessing equal force as statutory derived rights. Issues related to land rights are perceived as  root causes of conflicts occurring in the 1990s and 2000s. The 2010 Constitution has embodied the fundaments of land reforms; it has acknowledged “communities” as legally entitled to hold land. Paper studies decision-making processes via a socio-anthropological approach showing how it contributes to understanding the issues at stake and the politics surrounding the design of new legislation around “community land”. Documents the manner in which local actors participate in, interpret, divert, or exploit policy debates ongoing at the national level.

  • June 2017

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  • Liz Alden Wily (The Conversation)

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights has issued a landmark judgement for marginalised communities across Africa. It ruled that the Kenyan government violated the rights of the Mau Ogiek people by evicting them from their ancestral land in the Mau Forest complex. This is the first time the court has ruled on an indigenous peoples’ rights case or in a case with mass human rights violations indicated. All indigenous forest peoples in Kenya (c.135,000) will find it easier to advance their own claims for recognition as owners of presently classified “government” forests. The case has also given indigenous peoples throughout Africa resounding legal recognition that they exist and are due the support of international law.

  • 20 July 2017

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  • Pambazuka News 832 (Boaventura Monjane)

Reports from meeting near Bilbao from peasants in South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Niger, Mali, Senegal and Ghana. Almost everywhere in Africa the elite and corporations are undertaking efforts to capture and control people’s basic means of production, such as land, mineral resources, seeds and water. These resources are increasingly being privatized due to the myriad of investment agreements and policies driven by new institutional approaches, imposed on the continent by western powers and Bretton Woods institutions.

  • 26 July 2017

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  • TNI (Transnational Institute)

A practical guide focusing on investigating accountability and accountability politics in the context of the current global rush for land and other natural resources. Purpose is to provide practical information to rural communities in Mali, Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa, that they can use in collective action and engagement strategies aimed at strengthening their tenure of land, fisheries and forest.

  • July 2017

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  • Land Portal (Paolo Groppo, FAO)

Includes natural resources as a driver of conflicts; gender dimensions of land conflict; displacement from land conflict; impact of land conflicts on traditional institutions; land disputes/conflicts in different countries/regions; what can be done – 5 general recommendations – foster dialogue and deal with asymmetrical power relations, embrace the past, present and future, secure land rights to contribute to peace building, build on (and strengthen) existing measures, start small.

  • 17 July 2017

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  • Zimbabweland (Ian Scoones)

Vital that the new Land Commission looks at the range of land issues in the round. Need comprehensive district by district approach, attuned to local circumstances and flexible. Enormous challenge to recreate a land administration system. Outlines vital elements and how they must work together.

  • July 2017

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  • Columbia School of International and Public Affairs and Transparency International (Priyal Bhatt, Jocelyn Chu, Ximena Mata, Yasuko Nakajima, Alexander Ro & Marleen Schreier)

Contains literature review, methodology, findings and recommendations. Concluded: 1) the land administration is extremely complicated and opaque, which has led to widespread and entrenched corrupt practices; 2) institutional deficiencies exacerbate the effects of corruption in the land sector on women, especially those in poverty; 3) the judicial system, integral to resolving land disputes, is severely impeded; 4) there is a large rural/urban, gender, and socioeconomic divide in access to and capabilities of ICTs. Recommends that Transparency International strengthen advocacy efforts directed at all levels of government, sensitize communities on land rights and gender, and build networks and capacities at its Ugandan national chapter.

  • 17 July 2017

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  • Deutsche Welle

A five and a half minute video demonstrating that from cookies and ice cream to soap and shampoo, every second product in supermarkets contains palm oil. New oil plantations grab land and destroy the environment in e.g. Sierra Leone. Demonstrates that there is also a fair and environmentally friendly alternative way.

  • 17 July 2017

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  • Mozambique News Reports & Clippings 377 (Joseph Hanlon)

No new plantation, state or private has succeeded since independence but Frelimo leaders persist in dreaming of giant mechanised farms funded by hundreds of millions of dollars from abroad. Lists some of these. Portucel: trading land for jobs did not work. A comment on risk sharing.

  • July 2017

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  • Global Witness

Covers global panorama, where the situation has worsened, the context for killings, moving forward. At least 200 land and environmental defenders were killed in 2016, the highest on record, spread across 24 countries. Cites their names. With many killings unreported, and even less investigated, likely that the true number is actually far higher. This tide of violence driven by an intensifying fight for land and natural resources, as mining, logging, hydro-electric and agricultural companies trample on people and the environment in their pursuit of profit. As more and more extractive projects were imposed on communities, many of those who dared to speak out and defend their rights were brutally silenced. Tells the stories of these activists and the threats they’ve faced. Highlights the courage of their communities as they stand up to the might of multinationals, paramilitaries and even their own governments in the most dangerous countries on Earth to be a defender. Defending national parks is now riskier than ever, particularly in Africa where large numbers of rangers are being killed, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

  • July 2017

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  • Robin Palmer (Mokoro)

The 1,000th entry on this site. Origins of the site with Oxfam in 2000, purpose of the site – target audience, objectives, why different?; sources, problems encountered, some sort of conclusion. In essence a pro-poor land reform site. A major challenge remains getting hold of reliable information when many continue to have vested interests in making this very difficult.

  • 3 July 2017

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  • Zimbabweland (Ian Scoones)

Looks at seven key principles for tenure design drawing on the international literature and at multiple routes to land tenure security. Argues that Zimbabwe needs to get over the idea that freehold title is the solution to all ills.

  • 12 June 2017

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  • Zimbabweland (Ian Scoones)

The challenges are: the methodology for valuation, the state’s capacity for valuation, the process for dispute resolution, and the funding of the process. The backlog created by lack of action in the past 17 years must be dealt with urgently.

  • 19 June 2017

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  • Zimbabweland (Ian Scoones)

Land reform has generated a range of disputes including overlapping boundaries, double occupations, competing authorities etc. Lists areas in which potential disputes arise.

  • June 2017

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  • IIED (Lorenzo Cotula and Thierry Berger, eds)

Since 2014, a set of initiatives in Cameroon, Ghana and Senegal has worked to help people harness the law in order to have greater control over decisions that affect them in a process of legal empowerment. In the three countries, the initiative developed diverse approaches, responding to different local contexts and theories of change. Each embodied a distinctive combination of grassroots action, public advocacy and private sector engagement – through supporting junior lawyers in Cameroon, grassroots committees in Ghana and locally negotiated “land charters” in Senegal. In the final year of project implementation, the project teams met to distil lessons learned. This report presents the results of that work. It summarises insights from first-hand experiences of helping rural people exercise their rights and, ultimately, claim their own future.

  • May 2017

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  • IISD Investment in Agriculture Policy Brief 5

Explores how global standards and guidelines contribute to gender equality and women’s empowerment, and whether more can be done through these instruments to improve the situation of women in agriculture. Includes lessons from the field.

  • May 2017

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  • IIED (John T. Burgi & Eric Yeboah)

Highlights the key drivers of pressure in Ghana on rural land and their communities, such as population growth, urbanisation and acquisition of land by new actors, including government and business. Draws on case study evidence from two communities: the Ahanta West District near Sekondi-Takoradi in the south, and the Savelugu-Nanton Municipal Authority around Tamale in the north. Shows how, under new circumstances, rural communities are changing how they access and manage land: shifting from customary to more commercial systems; farming smaller plots of land; and renegotiating access to common resources, such as grazing land, so influencing crop choices and livelihoods. An opportunity for government to address some of the challenges and recommendations highlighted in this research.

  • 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.