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Interview with Hubert Ouédraogo, Lead Land Expert, UNECA

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Most development activities require direct or indirect access to land, but also security of tenure rights. In some parts of the continent, land issues are fuelling national or regional conflicts. Lead Land Expert, AU-ECA-AfDB joint Land Policy Initiative, Hubert Ouédraogo, broadly explained land policy issue on the side-line of a joint meeting in Tunis .

Question: Could you tell us more about the theme of the AU-UNECA-AfBD joint meeting hosted by the AfDB in Tunis ?

Answer: Allow me first to say a few words on the joint AUC- ECA- AfDB Land policy Initiative (LPI). This initiative has been developed since 2006, in consideration of the importance of land in African development but also in consideration of poor level of land tenure security as well as recurrent land-related disputes, despite efforts developed by individual countries in review and revising their national land legislations. The objective was to provide African countries with a framework to strengthen land rights, enhance productivity and secure livelihood. This framework has been developed and endorsed by the highest decision-making organs of the AU. Now the LPI is moving toward the effective implementation of the Declaration of the African Heads of State and Government on Land which calls for the effective use of the Framework and Guidelines on land policy in Africa to inform land policy processes at national, regional and continental levels. This inception workshop on the development of a “Knowledge sharing community of practice on land policy in Africa” is part of the implementation process of the Declaration of African Heads of state and Governments on land issues and challenges in Africa .

Question: What are the AfDB’s major contributions to this initiative and the impact on its Regional Member Countries?

Answer: Since the launching of this initiative in 2006, AfDB has been one of the most active members of the LPI consortium. It participated in providing strategic leadership to the implementation process of the LPI roadmap and in monitoring implementation activities. A staff member of AfDB acted as LPI focal person within the Bank, and provided support to the LPI secretariat. AfDB also provided technical assistance to the process through recruitment of a lead land expert to work in the Secretariat and participate in the development of the F&G. AfDB has also funded regional experts to prepare some of the regional assessment studies and regional multi-stakeholders consultations… Currently, the AfDB is still actively participating in the meeting of the LPI Steering committee and assisting supporting the effective implementation of the Declaration of African Heads of State and Government. Today, a reference framework has been made available to RMS in order to inform their land policy processes.

RMS as well as the AU Regional Economic Communities are sending requests to the LPI Secretariat in order to benefit technical assistance from African experts identified from the LPI network.

Question: What are the expectations of the meeting today?

Answer: This workshop on Knowledge sharing community of practice (CoP), aims at improving networking, lesson learning and experience sharing on land policy in the continent. Key objectives aim at i) building from the beginning a common understanding on, and ownership of the CoP, and to develop an action plan and prepare the Governance structure of the CoP for effective and quality delivery of services and products.

Question: How do you link Africa’s development, land policy and peace in the continent?

Answer: Most development activities require direct or indirect access to land, but also security of te nure rights. Without land tenure security, a rural producer might face conflicts with other stakeholders.

In addition,he will be marginalised or disadvantaged when it comes to access to substantive credits to invest and develop his farm. In most African countries, land-related conflicts constitute the most important part of cases addressed by jurisdictions. In other parts of the continent, land issues are fuelling national or regional conflicts. Improving land tenure security and land governance will tremendously impact on peace and security in the continent.

Question: What message are you delivering to the continent now that you have concluded the joint meeting?

Answer: The key message conveyed by this workshop is a call to African land experts to join hands in the effective implementation of the Declaration of African Heads of State and Government on land. Land issues are indeed among the most important challenges to be addressed by Africa for this 21st Century.

Therefore African land experts need to network, enhance exchange of experiences and peer learning, and contribute to capacity building in land policy development and implementation.

Question: What is the next step?

Answer: The LPI secretariat will work to launch the Knowledge Sharing Community of Practice very soon. We will develop a database of African land experts and a database of land related information.

An electronic platform will be established to foster exchange of information and e-discussions on burning issues in the continent. The LPI secretariat is also convening regional and continental forums on Foreign Direct Investments in land in Africa , with the view of coming with concrete actions to assist African countries take advantage of existing opportunities to develop their agriculture, observing sustainability guidelines and without marginalising the land rights of African communities. Other areas of immediate activities of the LPI secretariat relates to capacity building:,training sessions on land policy are presently under preparation, including training of trainers.

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