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Community / Land projects / Improved linkages: transparency and participation in decision and policy-making on land governance

Improved linkages: transparency and participation in decision and policy-making on land governance


09/13 - 03/18


This project is part of


(Nomadic) farmers and indigenous people are among the main direct stakeholders in land governance issues, since it is their land (be it according to customary or statutory rules) that is being governed. They have an immediate interest in participation, transparency, regulation and the formulation of alternatives (if called for). It is common knowledge that in the past years, much smallholder farmland has been acquired by other parties: both domestic and foreign investors. Particularly in the latter case the amount of land involved can be huge. This is not to say that all land deals are ‘bad’. Depending on local circumstances, the set-up (if any) of the negotiation process, the intentions and (strategic) objectives of the buyers and the theory and practice of land governance in particular countries, the outcome of a land deal can be more or less beneficial for the people ‘on the ground’. In any case, the impression is that negative outcomes are much more frequent, ranging from displaced people to former smallholders now living on their scarce savings or (if they are lucky) working for a modest wage on the plantation that came in the wake of the acquisition. Also, land acquisitions can limit people’s access to grazing and forested areas or water sources and damage the local ecosystems. The proposed research will examine the extent to which organized local rural people (with the term ‘local’ meaning ‘in-country’, not a low geographical level) can take part in policy-making on land allocation and the land re/allocation processes itself. It will take stock of the existing procedural issues of consultation, negotiation and consent, the mechanisms by which farmers and their organizations can be included in the decision making processes and understand their land rights. Last but not least, the research will investigate the vertical and horizontal linkages that formal and informal membership organizations make use of and how this results in organizations’ agency for actually influencing decision making. The research will be an exploratory case study in Uganda, with the specific district yet to be chosen. The research will be carried out by researchers under the supervision of the Eastern African Farmers’ Federation. See chapter 4 for a list of EAFF publications showing their capacity for this supervision. RESEARCH PROBLEM AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS While there is increasing insight in the processes of land transactions in East African Countries, knowledge on strategies for successful participation and negotiation by in-country stakeholders seems lacking. As a consequence, it is rather difficult to visualize that stakeholders like small-holders, pastoralists, nomadic people and other involved actors in the rural areas will be able to develop strategies and implement actions for effectively defending their interests. Besides, it appears to be the case that other actors like private investors (national and foreign) do have strategies and actually an ongoing practice of land acquisition of a relevant magnitude. However, it is rather clear that local consultation is key for ensuring proper and transparent land acquisition processes –independently of been or not a legal requirement, and it can be fostered within the principles and procedures for free, prior and informed consent (Cotula, 2009) In consequence, the research intends to provide knowledge on the type of actors involved, the existing strategies and institutional constellations and those to be promoted in order to ensure transparent decision making. Furthermore as (it is assumed that) effective lobby and advocacy by local stakeholders (farmers and others) regarding land governance will be a positive factor for ensuring transparency, the research also intends to find out how farmers organizations capacities and its vertical and horizontal integration impact in their possibilities for influencing decision making. With all, the two main research questions that the proposal seek to answer in order to contribute for a better understanding on the processes and agencies needed for ensuring meaningful and effective participation for land governance is as follows: Are there noticeable success and fail factors when devising strategies for participation and transparency? And What main factors are in play when focusing on influencing land governance? This question entails a problematic which calls for clarifying some key issues, what can be done by answering the following key sub-research research questions; A. Who are or should be relevant stakeholders in land acquisition policy making and implementations procedures? B. What is understood (or visualized) as “positive outcomes” and as “negative outcomes” by the main stakeholders regarding policies, regulations and practice on land acquisitions? C. What policies, regulatory framework and procedures regarding land acquisition are in place? D. What has happened (‘in the field’) in recent years and how practice match (o not) with the existing regulatory framework and with stakeholders interests? E. What role have been done by stakeholders to ensure (or aspire for) ‘positive outcomes’ from the regulatory framework and practice on land acquisitions? (Particularly UNFFE and other membership organizations) F. How FO’s vertical and horizontal integration of farmers organizations affect their ‘agency’ for an effective engagement with decision makers on land acquisition policy making and implementations procedures? In fact, the last sub-question is perhaps the most relevant one. Applied to the Uganda case (see the next section), it means: how are the problems that are experienced at the level of a District Farmers’ Association present and visible (taken into account) in the policy and lobby options of its mother organisation UNFFE (the Uganda National Farmers’ Association) and of the higher-level mother organisation EAFF (East African Farmers’ Federation). And the other way around: how are policy and lobby activities by EAFF and UNFFE ‘recycled’ and applied tot that district-level practice. In other words, how does this uploading and downloading of information work, and, provided that it works well, does that influence outcomes? L’objectif général du projet est de renforcer de des coopératives de caféiculteurs pour pouvoir arriver à un stade de gérer le processus de production depuis les champs jusqu’à l’exportation du café.