In 2019, LANDac launched the Professional Learning Network on Land Governance and Field Mediation. The programme brings together professionals working on sustainable and/or inclusive land governance in a community of practice. While working at NGOs, governmental agencies, universities or businesses, these LANDac fellows (based in different African countries) will exchange experiences and best practices. Furthermore, they will bring stakeholders together in the field to identify ways to make land-based investments – whether in agriculture, infrastructure, nature conservation or natural resource extraction – more inclusive and sustainable.
Over the years, through extensive research and multi-stakeholder projects like the LANDforum, CITYforum, the Securing Women’s Land Rights in Africa Programme and Learning Platforms, we have found that when it comes to (foreign) investments in land in the global South, the quality of environmental and social impact assessments (ESIAs) tends to be poor and does not allow for mapping the full range of socio-economic impact pathways. Often, engagement with local communities takes place at the tail end of investment preparations and the level of community participation is limited. Due to the lack of information, expectations about the benefits of the investments are often not met and there is no systematic approach of monitoring or keeping communities ‘in the loop’. There is a clear need for more knowledge about ‘best practices’: how do we ensure Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), fair consultation processes and equal benefit sharing between investors and communities? Through learning and exchange, this programme aims to address those questions.
The Professional Learning Network (PLN) brings together researchers and practitioners working on the issues of sustainable and inclusive land-based investments in 10 sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, and Uganda. The first cohort which came together in Utrecht, the Netherlands in June 2019 comprised of nine fellows. Following in-person training and participation at the LANDac Annual International Conference and the 2019 Summer School in ‘Land Governance for Development’, the fellows returned to their home base from where they monitored selected land-based investments and their impacts on local communities and identified opportunities to make these investments more inclusive and profitable for local people.
Beginning in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world and flows of people and information became severely restricted, the LANDac fellows continued to meet online to exchange and update each other about the new realities in their country. From the start of the crisis, they have been closely monitoring and exchanging real-time information on the impacts of the coronavirus and government measures on land governance and the livelihoods of poor and vulnerable groups. These processes of co-learning have been particularly valuable, both for fellows, who learn from other contexts and each other’s expertise and experience and for LANDac members based outside SSA as they could get first-hand information about the pandemic’s impact on SSA through professionals on the ground.
In October 2020, we welcomed the second cohort to the Network and it currently consists of 19 professionals from 10 different SSA countries. It capitalises on the ongoing processes of co-production of knowledge and co-learning and sharing of knowledge with local and international stakeholders. Specifically, monthly exchange seminars are held where fellows share their work that is related to the impacts of land-based investments on local communities. In addition, together, they design and implement action and research on the ground to fill knowledge gaps, monitor trends and identify best practices. Furthermore, LANDac continuously facilitates learning and exchange between the fellows and LANDac partners. With the programme, LANDac creates an international network of land governance fellows that regularly comes together, addressing the need for more South-South learning and exchange. By expanding the network each year with a new group of fellows, LANDac aims to strengthen its ties with professionals on the ground and contribute to more sustainable and inclusive investments.
The PLN’s work resulted in several publications, which are accessible on this webpage. In 2022, the fellows will concentrate on the visualisation (for example in the form of short documentaries or photo essays) of the key messages and findings of the studies they carried out in 2021 in four working groups. These visualisation projects will be centred around local community members and other stakeholders such as government officials and investors where applicable.
Revisiting the notion of profit-sharing: A bottom-up perspective on resettlement and fair compensation
This working group focuses on what is considered fair compensation according to various communities and how this information can inform displacement and resettlement processes in Uganda and South Africa. The findings from the study showed diverse opinions from different groups of people about what is considered to be fair compensation. The different groups identified within communities all of whom tended to have slightly diverging priorities and perspectives on investments, and opinions on resettlement, displacement and fair compensation.
Group members: Emilinah Namaganda, Teddy Kisembo, and Molatelo Mohale
Investigate the trend of large-scale land-based investments in Africa
Based on the Land Matrix, the rise in agricultural land deals started to level out in 2012, with the data available indicating that the number of deals under contract have been on decline. However, little is known about the cause of the changing trends and long-term implications on the local communities’ livelihoods. This working group’s aim is to understand the recent trends and the long-term implication of large-scale land acquisition as well as the community perspectives on the investment’s areas. It involves four countries case studies; carried out in Kenya, Ghana, South Africa and Zambia.
Group members: Wegayehu Fitawek, James Wangu, Paul Andoh, Evangelista Mazala
Gendered impacts of large-scale land-based investment
This working group focuses on the gendered effects of large-scale land-based investments (LSLBI) in Kenya, Tanzania, Liberia, and Ethiopia. It provides a comparison of positive and negative impacts of LSLBIs on local communities – especially women and the key drivers behind the reported impacts. The findings are drawn from eight case studies in the mining and agriculture sector, this report also includes a set of suggestions to improve similar future investment initiatives in Africa.
Group members: Arach David James, John F Kelvin, Naomi, Hanna Habtemariam
Evaluating land titling to strengthen tenure security in the context of customary land
The goal of this working group is to assess the situation of customary land registration in Uganda, Malawi, and Mozambique, focusing predominantly on large scale land based investments.
Group members: Kate Chimwana, Junior Alves Sebbanja, Judith Atukunda, Clemente Ntauazi
A video about experiences of fair compensation in South Africa and Uganda made by the fellows in addition to their research report.
The activities of the Professional Learning Network are planned and coordinated by James Wangu (Utrecht University), Teddy Kisembo (Makerere University), Annelies Zoomers (Utrecht University), Griet Steel (Utrecht University), and Dominique Schmid (Utrecht University and Universitat Pompeu Fabra).
Please contact Dominique Schmid at email@example.com for more information.
Picture: Romy Santpoort (Shared Value Foundation & LANDac)