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(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Ahead of this year’s Africa’s Land Forum, stakeholders in the agriculture, development and other related sectors have reiterated the need to promote the ideals of land governance in the continent.
The 2020 Africa Land Forum which is scheduled to hold from 15th to 17th of September, provides another opportunity for stakeholders to brainstorm on contending issues underpinning land governance.
The event will be convened by the International Land Coalition in Africa (ILC Africa), African Union Commission (AUC) and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
In addition, over 1000 development actors will grapple with the theme of this year’s event, “Delivering on the African Union’s Agenda 2063 for People-centred Land Governance in Africa”.
Head of Rural Economy Division, AU’s Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, Dr. Janet Edeme said the forum creates another veritable platform to assess the current state of land governance in Africa and make recommendations for further progress.
“The 2020 Land Forum affords us the opportunity to assess how far we have come, and what needs to be adjusted so as to improve land governance on the continent”, she added.
The prevailing challenges in Africa underscore the need for stakeholders and policy makers to seek cutting edge solutions that will create an enabling environment to relaunch Africa’s agriculture.
Moreover, the continued spread of COVID-19 and the scorch of climate change in Africa have caused economies to contract substantially. Lives and livelihoods are put at risk, as COVID-19 and the associated economic challenges continue to spill into an African food crisis.
Before COVID-19, half of Africans faced food insecurity due to climate change and other factors, of which 50 percent are severely food insecure and the number of people who are hungry might likely double in 2021.
“Land is a vital resource. It is essential to agriculture on which 70 of Africans rely for their livelihoods. We cannot stand and wait until the sector is crushed”, a statement from the organizers said.
Meanwhile, Africa remains a huge net food importer, at a cost of more than $47 billion in 2018. COVID-19 restrictions are equally triggering higher lost income, as unsold and rotting food accumulates on farms. That was not the wish of Member States in 2013 when they adopted Agenda 2063.
Good land governance cuts across the aspirations and strategic goals of Agenda 2063 blueprint. To decrease food importation and escalating food prices, the implementation of AU’s Declaration on Land Issues and Challenges at regional and national levels is imperative.
Processes such as the Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa, the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in Context of National Food Security (VGGT), and the AU Guiding Principles on Large Scale Land Based Investments in Africa (LSLBI) provide the continent with instruments to make land a key driver of economic prosperity.
“The above-mentioned processes need to be strengthened, documented and monitored through effective multi-stakeholder approaches, multi-disciplinary discourse and continuous learning. We need to factor in the role of continental and regional integration institutions to enable a better implementation of the Africa Union Land Agenda”, the statement added.
The ILC Africa Regional Coordinator, Audace Kubwimana noted that there is an urgent need to address the issues relating to land security in Africa.
“For ‘the Africa we want’ to be achieved, we must strategically address the burning issues of weak land tenure security, locust swarms that destroy crops in the Horn of Africa, regional insecurity and conflict that decrease effective land governance, and climate change-related droughts and flooding destroying crops and the livelihoods of millions of African smallholder farmers”, he stressed.
Similarly, it also paramount to address the issue of youth, gender and unequal access to land in Africa because for rural women and men across the continent, land is often the most important household asset for supporting agricultural production.
In addition, it is equally essential to providing food security and nutrition. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), secure land tenure is associated with higher levels of investment and productivity in agriculture. It also determines higher incomes and greater economic wellbeing.
Secure land rights for women and men are often correlated with better outcomes for them and their families. It strengthens women’s bargaining power at household and community levels, leads to better child nutrition and favours lower levels of gender-based violence.
In many African countries, however, both men and women have inadequate access to secure rights over land, with women being particularly disadvantaged.
The International Land Coalition-Africa’s recent statistics reveal that while women constitute 70 percent of the active rural population and 80 percent of food production capacity in Senegal (and most of sub-Saharan Africa), only 13 percent have access to land and 2.6 percent hold secure land tenure rights. Furthermore, 61.2 percent of women say that lack of resources deepens inequality on access to land.
A land governance expert at IGAD, Esther Obaikol said inclusion and prominence given to gender equality as it relates to land governance in this year’s forum is very apt and commendable.
“I am happy to note that the forum has given a prominent place to inclusion and gender equality in land governance. It is critical that the actors on the continent employ multiple pathways to gender equality agenda on land if we are to meet the targets set in the Agenda 2063.
“ It is equally important for us to understand how meeting these targets unlocks the full potential and contribution of youth and women toward the Africa we want, in the COVID-19 era and beyond”, she further explained.
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