New project will track implementation of AU’s declaration on land issues and challenges

Joan Kagwanja

The Monitoring and Evaluation of Land in Africa (MELA) a new project that aims to track the progress of implementing the African Union Declaration on Land Issues and Challenges in 12 countries including Ethiopia has officially been launched.
AU’s Declaration on Land Issues and Challenges was endorsed by member states in 2009. It recognizes the contribution of Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in Context of National Food Security in member states.
It helps support the eradication of hunger and poverty based on the principle of sustainable development and the recognition of centrality of land by promoting secure rights and equitable access to land for women.
“Effective policy making and implementation requires information on whether governments are doing things right or not and whether they achieve the intended results or not. So it is important that we are launching this pilot project to see what has been happening on the ground over the past few years and come up with recommendations on how to move things faster in a way that is inclusive and beneficial to all,” said Joan Kagwanja, Coordinator at the Land Policy Initiative; a program to enable the use of land to drive to the process of African development.
During a three day meeting on land resources held this week in Ghana, it was stated that insecure forest and land rights trigger widespread poverty, gender disparity, lack of economic growth, social unrest, conflicts and investment risks.
According to Solange Bandiaky-Badji, Africa Program and Gender Justice Director at the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), there needs to be a significant legal reform if African government’s are to meet their obligations under international laws and commitments such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the African Union Land Declaration and others.
“Secure community land rights will go a long way in minimizing business risks on the continent therefore there’s need to change long-standing business models that often ignore the rights of local peoples. When land is secure there will be fewer conflicts on the continent,” she said.
The Monitoring and Evaluation of Land in Africa project is said to enhance knowledge in land policy development and implementation processes and outcomes in Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.