Next week the Conference on Land Policy in Africa - Winning the Fight against Corruption in the Land Sector: Sustainable Pathway for Africa’s Transformation, will take place in Abidjan. The African Union recognises that corruption is a key factor hampering efforts at promoting governance, socio-economic transformation, peace and security, and the enjoyment of human rights in the Member States.
This conference is a major policy dialogue, information sharing and learning event. Its overall goal is to deepen capacity for land policy development and implementation with specific focus on emerging issues and AU commitments including tackling corruption in the land sector through access to knowledge and information in support of evidence-based land policymaking.
We had the opportunity to hear from Odenda Lumumba, CEO, of the Kenya Land Alliance, who will be a speaker at the CLPA. Here are his thoughts.
- Why is it important that the 2019 Conference on Land Policy in Africa focus on land corruption?
It is a decade (10) years since Africa gave itself the framework and guidelines on land policy in Africa both as a declaration and challenge to fulfil in improving livelihoods of its people. The majority of whom depend on land its attendant natural resources for food security and sustainable development. At the time there was an increased large-scale land acquisitions in most places in Africa what was deemed as a new scramble for Africa that scholars and practitioners differed on what to call it (land grab, land rush, land deals, new enclosures, large-scale land acquisitions). At the continental level, we looked at it as a large-scale land based investments, this is the context within which we can focus on land corruption given that the continent is awash with mega-projects that seems to promote corruption. Equally, given that most reforms targeted to restructure the land delivery systems, what has happened from a land governance perspective fits the focus on land corruption as a way of assessing the elite capture of the land reforms amidst anxiety and anger from land-based and dependent communities whose territories are witnessing all manners of development projects, yet their lot remain wanting in terms of improvement on many economic and social scores.
- In your view, what are the most pressing issues that need to be dealt with in terms of land corruption in Africa?
The pressing issues are mainly large-scale land based investments (mega-projects) in agriculture and natural resources sector in its entirety. These include extractive sector projects, development corridor infrastructure projects, agribusiness projects, touristic projects …
The other area would the land sector digitization – the progress and its manifestations. This the land delivery system infrastructure issues.
Finally, the implementation of community land category reforms as the anchor all development projects.
- What concrete outcomes do you envision for the conference?
- Commitment to review land policy implementation across the continent
- State and non-state candid partnership to address land corruption beyond rhetoric
- Informed policy papers whose recommendations the state and practitioners can take away
- What do you hope to accomplish during this Conference on Land Policy in Africa in terms of policy dialogue?
My accomplishment at this conference as one who has engaged and watchdogged the entire period is to have a close and candid reflection and dialogue with all others.
Democratically 10 years is a time to pass on the button to the new players who should take seriously lessons learned going forward.
- What does a ‘Sustainable Pathway for Africa’s transformation’ look like in your view in terms of land corruption?
It does not look good given that African growth is coming with high debt whose collateral is the land and its attendant natural resources.
Fixing land corruption would require more than resolutions of big conferences like this one, to active participation of all in detecting and correcting encountered corruption cases.
A relook at the framework and guidelines to appreciate what has worked and what is not working would be a sure way of retracing our steps back to a sustainable pathway for Africa’s transformation.