Land issues top October development agenda as ECA, partners launch multiple studies across Africa

ECA Press Release 166/2012
Addis Ababa, 11 October 2012 (ECA) – The Land Policy Initiative today launched the third in a series of studies to promote evidence-based land policies across the Continent.
According Ms Joan Kagwanja, Head of the Land Policy Initiative at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the series of studies, associated reports and advocacy material will facilitate knowledge generation and dissemination that should promote policy formulation that is based on scientific evidence.
Speaking to ECA’s Information and Communication Services (ICS), Ms Kagwanja said that  the studies will focus on mainstreaming land in strategies and programmes for Africa’s development; improving access to land and security of land rights for women in Africa; and large scale land based Investment in Africa
The first in the series, the inception workshop on Mainstreaming Land in Strategies and Programmes for Africa’s Development was held alongside the Joint Review and Planning Meeting of the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency on 7 October 2012.
Kagwanja said that the forum provided a unique opportunity for key stakeholders to share perspectives on how best to mainstream land in development strategies and programmes, especially as it was held just ahead of the CAADP (Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme) Business Meeting.
CAADP is the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme that was established as part of NEPAD in 2003 and focuses on improving and promoting agriculture across Africa.
These stakeholders included senior staff members and representatives of the African Union Commission (AUC), NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA), Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), and the International Food Policy Institute (IFPRI) as well as officials of the Land Policy Initiative.
On the occasion, Ms. Kagwanja revealed that mainstreaming land issues in Africa’s development is one of the eight objectives of the LPI plan. Hence, the Initiative will entail conducting a study that would provide recommendations on the entry points for addressing land-related challenges in the context of continent-wide programmes.
In addition to this important study, the LPI also launched a study on Mainstreaming Land Policy and Governance in CAADP Investment Plans, as requested by African Union Member States. Participants agreed on the main tasks of the assignment, methodology, and sources of information, the timeline and the main outputs.
In another development, the inception workshop on improving access to land and security of land rights for women in Africa that convened in Addis Ababa arrived at a consensus on the tasks and the methodology for the study was refined.
The study will inform decision making on the key challenges that hamper access to land and security of land rights for women in Africa. This will facilitate advocacy for policy changes and administrative reforms necessary for addressing these challenges.
Visibly satisfied with the outcome of the workshop, Mr. Josue Dione, Director of the Food Security and Sustainable Development Division at ECA, assured that evidence generated by this study would be crucial in facilitating reforms that would address one of the key hindrances to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
It would also accelerate the attainment of other commitments related to food security and sustainable development, he said. The draft report of the study will be submitted for review in December 2012, before a validation workshop that will be organized in early 2013 to look into it, he added.
Related advocacy events, capacity development and technical assistance to facilitate policy and administrative reforms that address Women’s Land Rights challenges will follow soon after, Ms Kagwanja explained.
The workshop on large scale land-based investment in Africa or the so-called land grab which also met in Addis Ababa provided insights into the extent and ramifications of the phenomenon, but most importantly, it launched the work of four consultants hired to undertake the study.
The consultants will collect and analyze information on large scale land investments in Africa, Ms Kagwanja explained, saying that this would help generate knowledge and provide best practices needed to advocate for large scale investments that could enhance the achievement of the triple goals of economic growth, social equity and environmental sustainability.
This study is part of the activities in the implementation plan for the Nairobi Action Plan on Large Scale Land-Based Investments, adopted at a high-level Forum in October 2010. A draft report on large scale land-based investment in each of the five regions of the continent will be ready by December 2012.
Dr. Josue Dione also spoke of the urgent need for evidence pertaining to large scale land deals in Africa. He called on the consultants to perform analyses that indeed shed light on the reality pertaining to the economic costs and benefits associated with these acquisitions.
He decried the absence of reliable information on the phenomenon in Africa, saying that this lack of information gives rise to all sorts of speculation on the real motives of buyers.
He called on the consultants to consider every possible dimensions of the phenomenon, economic, social, environmental and political. All the studies are funded by a grant from the European Union.
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© 2012 Economic Commission for Africa