The media can play a critical role in capturing land management issues such as women and youth exclusion from accessing land, historical injustices and social equality concerns in the continent’s pursuit of fair land policies.
Land expert and media trainer Professor Kimani Njogu said this on Monday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at a one-day training of journalists on land policy in Africa.
The training is a side-event of the African Land Conference which runs from November 14 to 17 organised by the African Land Policy Centre (ALPC).
He said African media needs to unpack issues involving land governance so that the resource can benefit all people on the continent.
“Land management is the process by which decisions are made regarding the access to and use of land, the manner in which those decisions are implemented and the way that conflicting interests in land are reconciled,” he explained.
Njogu said as of 2016, population in Africa was 1.2 billion and over 60 percent of people who fall below the age of 25 still had no access to land yet land-based resources provide opportunity for the youth.
“Land governance concerns ought to be addressed and as journalists you need to highlight these issues,” he appealed, but at the same time urged the media to report responsibly and sensitively about land-related conflicts as land is an emotive issue.
“Seek common ground by publicising competing interests on land use from all sides,” he said.
World Bank Africa Region lead land specialist Dr Frank Byamugisha said 60 percent of surplus arable land is in Africa which is a huge opportunity for the continent if the resource is well utilised.
“With high rates of youth unemployment in Africa, agriculture presents opportunities for employment. But youth must be given access to land as they have a role to play in agricultural transformation,” he explained.
In her presentation at the meeting, land tenure and gender specialist at Land Policy Initiative of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca) Hirut Girma, highlighted that gender equity is also essential to sustainable land use in Africa.
She said women are primary producers yet are routinely denied land rights.
“It is, therefore, essential that we recognise that women are change agents with regard to land use and management,” she said.
The African Land Conference is being held under the theme “The Africa We Want: Achieving socioeconomic transformation through inclusive and equitable access to land by the youth”.
It is a second in a series of biennial conferences on land policy in Africa, following an inaugural conference held in 2014.