Final Reports of the Community Land Titling Initiative
Download a press release of the report here.
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. Yet governments in Africa have been granting vast land concessions to foreign and domestic investors for agro-industrial enterprises and forestry and mineral exploitation. According to recent data, transactions covering at least 57,393,083 hectares of land (equal to the size of half of Western Europe) have been granted or are under negotiation. Such concessions are exacerbating trends of growing land scarcity and weakening the land tenure security of rural communities.
To explore how to best protect community land rights in the face of the global land grab, the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) conducted a study in partnership with the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) in Liberia, Centro Terro Viva (CTV) in Mozambique and The Land and Equity Movement in Uganda (LEMU). The Community Land Titling Initiative, the only randomized control study of its kind, provided various kinds of legal support to 58 rural communities as they followed national procedures to document their community lands. These processes included defining borders, resolving local land conflicts, improving land and natural resources management, creating mechanisms to protect women’s property rights, and filing for official recognition of community land ownership claims.
The study’s most important finding is that community land documentation processes may help communities do more than protect their lands: as they worked to complete the documentation activities, communities resolved long-standing land disputes; improved local governance and established mechanisms to hold leaders downwardly accountable; created rules for conservation of natural resources; and strengthened the rights of women and other vulnerable groups.
The report concludes that community land protection efforts must necessarily combine three processes: the technical task of mapping and titling community lands, the peace-building task of land conflict resolution, and the governance task of strengthening local land administration and management.
Namati, a new international organization dedicated to expanding the field of legal empowerment, is taking this work forward, through its global Community Land Protection Program.
Authors are available for comment. Their biographies can be accessed here.
Rachael Knight, Director, Community Land Protection Program, Namati
Silas Siakor, Director, Sustainable Development Institute
Ali Kaba, Program Manager, Sustainable Development Institute
Judy Adoko, Executive Director, The Land and Equity Movement in Uganda
Theresa Auma Eilu, Program Director, The Land and Equity Movement in Uganda
Alda Salomao, Director General, Centro Terra Viva
Issufo Tankar, Program Manager, Centro Terra Viva
The Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) works to transform decision-making processes in relation to natural resources and to promote equity in the sharing of benefits derived from natural resource management in Liberia.