With secure land tenure, Indigenous Peoples and local communities can realize human rights, achieve economic growth, protect the environment, and maintain cultural integrity. For centuries, Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLCs) have used, managed and depended on collectively-held land for food supplies, cultural and spiritual traditions, and other livelihood needs. Historically governed through customary tenure systems rooted in community norms and practices that often go back centuries, governments often consider such community land as vacant, idle, or state-owned property. Statutory recognition and protection of indigenous and community land rights continues to be a major challenge.
Nearly 30 years after starting land reform, Namibia’s distribution of land ownership is still skewed. This is a colonial legacy. It is high time to return land to dispossessed communities. As a former colonial power guilty of terrible bloodshed, Germany should contribute to making that happen.
Lawyer extols value of traditional knowledge and tenure systems