Focus on Land in Africa raises awareness of the crucial importance of secure land rights to social and economic development. Here, land rights and development experts share what FOLA means to their work. 

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Jimmiel Mandima, African Wildlife Foundation

Jimmiel Mandima, Director of Program Design and Partner Relations at the African Wildlife Foundation

“FOLA’s mission is timely and extremely valuable. Securing land and natural resources rights is key to Africa’s economic growth and the quest to alleviate poverty and promote food security.  The knowledge shared through FOLA has been a useful resource for us and the constituency of partners we work with across large landscapes in Africa. The case studies and discussion on secure land tenure and integrating gender and women’s empowerment have been particularly useful. It would be great to see FOLA continue to capture scenarios of best practices on land tenure and resource rights and extend coverage to include a review of innovative land management tools that promote community rights to land and natural resources that leverages conservation of biodiversity.”  

Ali Kaba, Sustainable Development Institute, Kenya

Ali Kaba, Sustainable Development Institute, Liberia

Focus on Land in Africa has been instrumental keeping policy makers and practitioners informed and sharing the story about land and natural resource related issues in Africa. The website is highly informative and accessible, and the resources and property rights sections are rich with valuable literatures. Indeed, FOLA has made constructive and helpful contributions towards the land discourse in Africa… The sharing of field stories is a major opportunity to flag and address emerging or intractable challenges. It should be used to connect practitioners around the world, and between practitioners and policy makers. It has been such a pleasure coming across Focus on Land in Africa. I look forward to more interaction. 

 

Emmy Simmons

By Emmy Simmons
 
Secure Rights to Land in Africa Are Essential for Cont​inued Progress.
 
Many African countries have made important strides toward sustained economic growth since 2000. Agricultural development has often been a key driver of this growth.
 
Farmers have adopted new technologies, added new crops and enterprises to their farming operations, and found new markets for their products around the world and in their growing urban populations at home.  African countries seek to build upon these gains, with the goals of  greater trade, investment, and innovations to improve incomes, food security, and employment for Africa’s people.
 
African governments’ ability to provide equitable access to land, water, and secure property rights will be key to realizing this goal.  Such rights are essential to promoting private investment, enabling African women to exercise fully their entrepreneurial skills and benefit from their farming expertise, and providing Africa’s rural youth opportunities to build a future in productive agriculture.  There are lots of problems to be solved — administrative and informational as well as in policy — but the time to tackle these challenges is now, while there is great momentum for change. 
 
Sharing Knowledge and Experience on Land Rights: Focus on Land in Africa (FOLA) is a “go to” on-line platform that can help.  FOLA facilitates exchange of information about issues of land rights from the grassroots as well as from a policy perspective. FOLA shares experiences in practical problem-solving.  It offers a place to pose questions and make suggestions, building a community of practice for expanding secure rights.  What else for FOLA? The opportunity exists to build stronger linkages among civil society and others engaged in related issues, e.g. the humanitarian network, the women-in-development networks, the Youth in Africa network, the WEF Grow Africa network, and others.  Land rights is integral to a range of development efforts across Africa.  The stronger the connections forged, the greater the opportunity for accelerating change.

Ogina Hillary K'odieny, Kenya Land Alliance

'Ogina Hillary K'odieny' & Eileen Wakesho – Kenya Land Alliance

Eileen Wakesho

FOLA sends KLA regular online updates on the state of land rights in other countries as well as success stories and videos.  

Through this KLA  has been able to follow best practices as well as partnered with  others from the region who are doing the same.

FOLA has been gracious enough to feature our work on their website through our Programme offices in charge of Women's Land Rights. This was  an article dubbed 'Council of Elders: A Platform to Secure Women's Land and Property Right".

Through FOLA, KLA communications officer was able to get recommendations for  how best to utilize our website and to get referrals to some of the best developers globally.

So we can say that generally through the strategic partnership with FOLA, our advocacy mandate has been upscaled in many aspects to reach to the grassroots. 

Busani Bufana, Award winning Zimbabwean journalist

Busani Bufani, Award-Winning Zimbabwean Journalist

FOLA has synthesized fundamental aspects of the land question in Africa through an easy to read, in-depth and critical online resource which underlines its mission to inform and raise much needed awareness of the land resource. It has broken important ground for discussion and research on the issue of land especially as it pertains to women, who are the major producers, marketers and processors of food in Africa.

As a development journalist, I have found resonance in the themes explored by FOLA, as land is a critical issue in my country for which blood was shed and remains contentious in the post independence dispensation. The briefs focusing on country scenarios have provided useful background material in focusing my articles on development issues.

The Talking Land series on the FOLA website provides a more personal, nationalised insight into the tenure systems existent in various African countries. This to me, provides a useful perspective for both researchers and the media.

I feel there is room for FOLA to expand its coverage of other African countries not profiled currently in the briefs. To balance the discussion, it would be worthwhile bringing in the voice of policy makers as land tenure policies are discussed and critiqued. Furthermore, I would recommend the inclusion of a photo gallery of various images to complement the current content.” 

Aimable Twahirwa, Kigali-based freelance reporter and science journalist

Aimable Twahirwa, Kigali-based freelance reporter and science journalist (IPS, Reuters)

FOLA serves as an important information sharing platform to compare the experience of various countries across Africa in terms of practices and policies on how land acquisitions can aim at improving local living standards rather than marginalize the poor.  Secondly, I would like to hear about the linkage between water scarcity since investors in large land deals are also interested in lands with greater irrigation potential or those closer to markets, and priority in water use may prove a source of conflict in some countries across the continent.   

Alan Rennison

Alan Rennison, Program Officer, Agricultural Development, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“FOLA is an excellent learning resource that any development practitioner with even a passing interest in land rights should spend time reading and use as a reference. Land issues have historically been complex and daunting for many practitioners to understand and respond to - FOLA breaks down a lot of the complexity and provides practical and digestible information to help improve the design of land-related activities within development programs.