The 2019 Conference on Land Policy in Africa ended in Abidjan on Friday with academic institutions pledging to work with traditional leaders in coming up with solutions to land governance challenges on the continent in an effort to root corruption out of the land sector.
Stakeholders attending the five-day conference made various calls at the end of the meeting but perhaps the most profound one was by the continent’s traditional leaders who made a commitment to review cultural practices and beliefs that have long denied women access to land.
“Culture is dynamic and changes. We commit to gender and to use inclusive decision making processes,” said His Royal Highness Drani Stephen Izakare of Uganda, adding there was an urgent need for Africa’s judicial systems to formalize the role of traditional leaders in land management and dispute resolution mechanisms.
The traditional leaders also committed to fighting corruption within the ranks of their traditional institutions; and called for the creation of more synergies and closer collaboration with government and land administration institutions to ensure land administration services do not provide opportunities for corruption
They agreed that land administration institutions on the continent should be strengthened to improve competencies.
Participants called on governments to put in place policies were none exist, and to review existing ones so they can be in tandem with experiences on the ground and current realities.
Governments were also called upon to ensure that policies and laws take into account the interests of the youth and women and other marginalized groups; encourage climate-friendly and sustainable land use, and to put in place mechanisms for the management of cross-border resources.
Academia pledged to review curricula to be aligned with the African Union guidelines in terms of knowledge enhancement in the land sector; develop short courses, workshop, seminars and meetings to address issues related to corruption in the land sector, among others.
Civil society organizations said they will work together with other partners to do various actions on the ground, including advocating for the development and implementation of comprehensive policies and systems that minimize and or eliminate corruption in the land sector in Africa.
The CSOs in their call of action said they will continue to serve as watchdogs, enhancing transparency and accountability through profiling of corruption cases and documenting the impact of corruption to lives and livelihoods of women and men.
In closing remarks to the conference, Cote d’Ivoire’s Agriculture and Rural Minister, Kouassi Kobenan Adjoumani, thanked the African Development Bank (AfDB), African Union Commission (AUC) and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) for organizing the conference and taking the lead in implementing the AU’s agenda on land.
“I would also like to urge all African countries to maintain the solidarity required to implement land policies that can help us as a continent to achieve the sustainable development goals for our people,” he said.
For her part, the AUC’s Ambassador Josefa Sacko, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, urged AU member States to work towards ensuring access to land and security of land tenure for all.
Let us not leave anyone behind, she said, adding although land tenure regimes differed from country to country, ‘we can build on our commonalities and synergize our collective efforts to make a difference for the many women and men whose lives are dependent on land’.
“Let us go back to our legislative as well as government representatives and influence change that will create sustainable and responsive land governance systems,” the Commissioner said.
Cosmas Milton Obote Ochieng, the Africa Natural Resource Centre Director at the AfDB, said the conference had highlighted many opportunities and challenges that exist in Africa’s land governance and management sector.
Sound land governance in Africa, he said, is unlikely to succeed without the leadership and support of the traditional leaders.
“We look forward to concrete action following this conference,” said Mr. Obote as he called on governments, traditional leaders and other stakeholders to work together in efforts to finding ways to root corruption out of the land sector which he said was central to the continent’s sustainable socio-economic development.
The biennial conference was held under the theme; Winning the fight against corruption in the land sector: Sustainable pathways for Africa’s transformation.