Community Land Protection
For billions of rural people, land is their greatest asset: the source of food and water, the site of their livelihoods, and the locus of history, culture, and community. In recent years, governments across Africa have been granting vast land concessions to national elites and foreign investors for agro-industry enterprises, forestry and mineral exploitation. These investments may dispossess communities from their lands or lead to environmental degradation, human rights violations, loss of livelihoods, and inequity. In this context, protections for rural communities and their lands are urgently needed.
Namati’s Community Land Protection Program supports communities to follow national land documentation laws to protect their customary and indigenous land claims. The Program promotes an integrated community land documentation model that both supports communities to defend and protect their lands and natural resources as well as to leverage community land documentation processes to create positive intra-community change. To this end, we:
- Work in partnership with national and local organizations to support community land protection efforts;
- Support governments to enact and implement legislation that promotes community land documentation;
- Research the impacts of community land protection efforts; and
- Advocate for increased global emphasis on protections for community land and natural resource rights.
A two-year randomized controlled trial led to various findings on the potential impacts of the model. The central finding was that to be most effective, community land documentation activities should combine: 1) the technical work of mapping and titling community lands with 2) the peace-building work of land conflict resolution and 3) the governance work of strengthening land and natural resource management and ensuring intra-community equity.
The data indicate that well-facilitated community land documentation efforts have the potential to:
- Resolve longstanding land conflicts;
- Promote leaders’ downward accountability and good governance in community land and natural resource management;
- Increase community participation in local land and natural resource decision-making;
- Strengthen women’s land rights and support communities to establish intra-community mechanisms that protect the land rights of women and other vulnerable groups;
- Promote sustainable natural resource management and conservation;
- Encourage transparency and equality in rule enforcement;
- Align community norms and practices with national law;
- Preserve and strengthen local culture;
- Foster community empowerment by strengthening community cohesion; and
- Increase community capacity to plan for and actualize community-driven local development.
For additional information, please visit our publications page. The Community Land Protection Program is advised by the Land Advisory Council, a group of accomplished experts in land tenure, natural resource management, and international law/development. Namati shares its approach with local partners and international organisations, and brings groups together, such as the African Symposium on Land Protection, in order to build a community of practice.