Good land governance is noted as a necessary tool in achieving the development sustainable goals. In particular Ending Poverty in all its form, Ending hunger, Gender equity, Economic growth, making cities and human settlements inclusive and peaceful and inclusive societies. Moreso, the attainment of the goals of Africa’s blueprint, Agenda 63 is underpinned by good governance.
Land governance: concerns the rules, processes and structures through which decisions are made about access to land and its use, the manner in which the decisions are implemented and enforced and the way that competing interests in land are managed.
The land is an important socio-economic resource. The manner in which we access, control and use land dictates the sustainability of our social and economic development and even the peace in our society.
Many African countries have been trying to achieve good land governance. In 2009 the African Union made a declaration on land issues and challenges in Africa. Two of the main tasks included prioritise, initiate and lead land policy development and implementation processes and support the emergence of the institutional framework required for the eﬀectve development and implementation of land policy and implementation.
As a continent, we have suffered several challenges in achieving the goals. Only two African countries were not colonized. Therefore we have to deal with colonial legislation and issues which arose at that time. We have pluralistic property laws in several countries, these laws tend to overlap and create conflicting interests. For instance, in Kenya, the displacement of African natives from their land led to landlessness. Most of these historical injustices threaten the political and economic injustices in most African countries.
In some countries the state is still sovereign over land which challenges other forms of tenure and also economic practices on the land.
Challenges and Opportunities
Africa is rich in culture. However, these practices can be discriminative. For instance practices regarding women and land are still a very sensitive and a rarely touched subject. This comes on the way of good land governance. Ensuring equitable land access for all land users and improving access and security of land tenure for women, should be key priorities for good land governance.
Governance should offer opportunities for securing collecting tenure systems. The Community Land Act 2016 sets Kenya ahead in protecting communal land rights. Inclusive land policies are vital in reducing land-related conflicts.Africa has an opportunity to innovate and inclusive approaches best for both customary and statutory land tenure system.
Corruption and lack of transparency in land administration practices are attributes of poor governance. In addition, centralized land administration systems and insufficient land information contribute more to land-related corruption.
All these challenges lead to poor land management, unequal access to land, poor financial resources and more so land disputes. Consequently, resulting in poor investments in land and land degradation, unsustainable agricultural practices. The Ogiek experience is a clear indication. The Ogiek protected the Mau forest as well as they depended on it for hunting and gathering. In the 2000s farming interest by neighbouring commuinites pushed out the community from their ancestral land. The uncontolled farming and deforestration has severely affected the water streams in Mau.
The failure to implement land policies or even their absence has chocked the realization of good governance in the continent. Ineffective institutions and systems for land administration have made it hard.
Regional Frameworks on Land Governance
Nevertheless, there are opportunities which include the regional frameworks and guidelines dealing with land governance. The Land Policy Initiative, the Africa commitments on land governance etc. These initiatives provide lessons, monitoring and evaluation framework, partnerships with member countries etc
It is obvious that land governance plays a key role in achieving development in a nation. Therefore, African governments should strive to achieve it by implementing the frameworks and guidelines in place.