Malawi’s land reforms have been hailed for recognising the role and rights of traditional leaders, women and youth in land management.
A land expert, Rex Ahene, who has been in the country to help the country reform its land laws said Malawi’s reforms show that better customary land system can help bring equity in the land sector.
“In Malawi, land reforms recognise women’s rights to own land. There is room to improve and protect women’s rights to land. The same can be said of Tanzania where reforms are empowering women to own land,” said Ahene, a professor at Lafayette College in the US.
Echoing the sentiments on the need for equity in the sector, Director of the Regional Integration and Trade Division at Economic Commission for Africa Stephen Karingi said effective land governance is critical to achieving Africa’s development, particularly the continent’s 50-year development plan, Agenda 2063.
Karingi said this at the 2019 Conference on Land Policy in Africa (CLPA2019) which opened in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on Monday. He said land was the foundational asset upon which economies were built, adding property rights were essential for creating a conducive environment for attracting private sector investment on the continent.
“Globally, success in achieving the sustainable development goals (SDDGs) is underpinned by good land governance, as it contributes to eliminating poverty and hunger; promoting sustainable agriculture; advancing gender equality and women empowerment; and promoting inclusive economic growth; among other development objectives,” Karingi said.
He explained that environments of legal uncertainty not only undermined business confidence, but could foster corruption.
“Undeveloped systems with complex and unclear administrative processes contribute to lack of transparency and accountability in the administration of land. These conditions increase the likelihood of corruption. Corruption in the land sector has far-reaching implications for Africa’s development,” he added.
Winning the fight against corruption in the land sector: Sustainable pathways for
Africa’s transformation, is the theme of the biennial conference which closed yesterday.
For her part Josefa Sacko, the African Union Commission’s Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, said good land governance was essential for Africa’s development.
“Land in Africa is an important factor of production as most livelihoods and developmental activities are undertaken on land. With this in mind, we need to ensure that the way in which land is distributed and used plays an essential role in promoting sustainable development and achieving peace and stability on the continent,” she said.
Corruption in the land sector, the commissioner said, can inhibit the ability for people to access and own land which in turn marginalises some sectors of society thereby undermining their livelihoods and perpetuating conflicts, hunger and poverty.
“For us to win the fight against corruption we need to ensure that land is equitably distributed and accessed by all, more especially women, youths and other vulnerable groups. Women continue to contribute significantly towards agricultural production in Africa but in some circumstances are not able to enjoy their rights to land. It is, therefore, a reality that women and men still do not enjoy the same rights over land,” she added.
The African Development Bank’s senior vice-president, Charles Boamah, said sound land policy was critical to economic growth, food security, and poverty alleviation across the continent.
“It can catalyse growth in agricultural productivity through tenure security and protection of land rights, which can in turn enhance investment opportunities in land,” he said.