Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world and has about 24 million inhabitants. 65 % of the population are directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture and forestry, most of them working in subsistence agriculture (rice, maize and manioc). 70 % of the land is used for agriculture, including a high proportion of pastures, and only about 15 % of the land is still covered by forest. Deforestation and degradation of forest landscapes are some of the country's biggest environmental problems. Consequently, livelihoods and agricultural productivity in rural areas are increasingly endangered. As part of the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), Madagascar has committed itself to restoring 4 million hectares of forest landscapes by 2030. This commitment is offset by a lack of clearly defined and formalised rights for land use and ownership, which inhibits the willingness to invest into forest restoration. Such an investment without a secured, long-term use perspective involves a high risk. Women and marginalised groups find it particularly difficult to assert their land use rights, as they generally know little about legal regulations and procedures and are thus unable to claim their rights.
Activities in Madagascar
The country module is active in three fields of activity:
- Activities in field 1 are improving the institutional framework and the processes for securing rights of use or ownership of land for the rural population in the Boeny region.
- Field of activity 2 ensures that the securing of land use and ownership rights for the local population is part of pilot measures to restore forest landscapes.
- In the third field of activity, the project aims to increase the involvement of the civil society, which is a main implementing partner, in formulating and implementing a responsible land policy concerning forest resources.
An example from the field
From a formal point of view, the legal situation in Madagascar since the land reform in 2005 presents a solid basis for smallholder farmers to formally register their land and obtain a land use certificate for it. The decentralised system provides for a competent authority (Guichet Foncier) in each municipality to issue these certificates. Reality shows, however, that in many places the issuance of land certificates is de facto impossible, as Guichet Fonciers were only opened in 535 of Madagascar's 1693 municipalities yet. Oftentimes, the Guichet Foncier is understaffed or not functional due to a lack of infrastructure. Moreover, the process of applying for the certificate and of proving land use is currently complicated and, in addition, costly in many of the municipalities.
The ProPFR project (Promotion d'une Politique Foncière Responsable – Promotion of a Responsible Land Policy) is therefore committed to improving and simplifying the procedure for obtaining a land certificate. In order to achieve this goal, a Land Inventory Protocol (LIP) procedure
will be introduced, which allows the rural population in the pilot communities to participate in a systematic land inventory.