Land is Crucial for Development

The Liberian town of Kinjor is a picture-book example for what happens, if land rights aren’t protected, and it illustrates how to move forward from there. The keyword: Multi-Actor Partnership

Ich bin ein Alternativtext
"Land is crucial to national development, which makes it relevant to political actors." © picture-alliance/Zentralbild

M. Sahr Nouwah

M. Sahr Nouwah is a dedicated young Liberian with a servant-leadership skill and a hands-on and result-oriented gifts with a solid background in governance, community development, advocacy and empowerment. As a National Head of Projects for two Land rights projects supported by the European Union and the Germany Foreign Ministry for International development cooperation separately, Sahr uses a mix methodology including Multi-Actor Partnerships (MSPs) and social innovative approaches to effect change in the Land reform processes of Liberia using constructive dialogue and engagement.

Roselyn Korleh

Roselyn Korleh is the Communication, Policy and Reporting Officer on the BMZ Funded Multi Actor Partnership project called ‘’Land for Life- Making Policies Work for Food Security in Liberia working with Rights and Rice Foundation; a national Implementing Partner to Welthungerhilfe.

Welthungerhilfe (WHH)

Welthungerhilfe

Kinjor is a small town in Grand Cape Mount County, North-Western Liberia, approximately 100 km from Monrovia. Amongst the original residents of Kinjor are two ethnic groups: the Gola, who are referred to as land owners because they inherited the land from their ancestors, and the Vai who are referred to as the settlers because they migrated from their original village years ago to settle in Kinjor in search of gold. The Vai and many other tribes living in Kinjor live at the mercy of the Golas.

This town is the home of Edwin Saye with his wife and two kids. He migrated here from Nimba County  in search of fertile soil and other mineral resources about 12 years ago.

But regardless of how long they have been bere, Edwin and many others remain strangers without hope of one day being recognized as citizens of the location. Both of Edwin’s children were born in this town but they and their parents are deprived of the right to use the land freely.

 

Kinjor is a small town in Grand Cape Mount County, North-Western Liberia, approximately 100 km from Monrovia. Amongst the original residents of Kinjor are two ethnic groups: the Gola, who are referred to as land owners because they inherited the land from their ancestors, and the Vai who are referred to as the settlers because they migrated from their original village years ago to settle in Kinjor in search of gold. The Vai and many other tribes living in Kinjor live at the mercy of the Golas.

 

This town is the home of Edwin Saye with his wife and two kids. He migrated here from Nimba County  in search of fertile soil and other mineral resources about 12 years ago.

 

But regardless of how long they have been bere, Edwin and many others remain strangers without hope of one day being recognized as citizens of the location. Both of Edwin’s children were born in this town but they and their parents are deprived of the right to use the land freely.

Ich bin ein Alternativtext
Edwin Saye`s children, eleven and five years old, support their father. © Land Rights Team/Welthungerhilfe

Like many others, Edwin depends on farming. According to him, he is denied using the land except by permission which allegedly includes unspecified demands of payments by a group called “the Land Administrators”. One narration by some young men of the village suggests that to gain access to a piece of land for farming, one must pay 2500.00 Liberian Dollars (equivalent to about USD 20.00to the Gola people every year.

 

Edwin further revealed that if people don’t have the money to pay for a piece of land, they go to the middle of the forest to farm, where nobody can easily trace them. But whenever they are caught, they have to pay 5,000.00 Liberian Dollars (equivalent to about USD 50.00) or their farms are taken away from them. For this reason, he said, many community members are not developing farms, and things are so difficult for the people of New Kinjor.

 

Edwin concluded by saying that their survival depends on the land and hard work. He teaches his children how to farm and cut trees which are then burned to produce coal that he sells. Edwin works daily with his children who, despite only being 11 and 5 years old, already master the skills of handling cutlass even though they are supposed to be in school.

 

If the community people, especially women, can’t afford to pay the stipulated fees, they negotiate with the town management team (10-member committee led by a doctorate holder) to allow them to continue to farm; during harvest, a certain percentage (which was not disclosed) is given to the management team.  

 

This situation explains why development interventions cannot simply concentrate on contributing to food security through improved agricultural production. The underlying social structures, and the land rights situation in particular, have to be considered for any intervention to be successful and sustainable.

In many countries, for many years, land rights have been a source of conflict. Traditional concepts of land ownership vary between regions and are often not easy to reconcile with more recently introduced land rights legislation. In many African regions, rural land rights are not documented; moreover, land ownership is often subject to multiple, overlapping claims and ongoing debates over these claims’ legitimacy and their implications for land use and the distribution of revenue.

 

With new stakeholders coming into play (such as international agricultural investors leasing large tracts of land), still another potentially conflictive dynamic is introduced. In Liberia, agricultural concessions, many for palm oil and rubber, have increased sharply during the past decade, covering an estimated 40% of the available agricultural land in the country today; a development, that has already led to violent clashes in different regions.

 

Edwin`s situation could change when he is granted secure access to and control over land.

 

Edwin is a hard-working farmer, but his production level is low. He has no incentive to invest in the land as the expectations of rights over the returns are insecure.

 

His situation could change when he is granted secure access to and control over land. Given the complexity of land tenure systems and the different dynamics that come into play, only transparent social dialogue involving all relevant actors can lead to sustainable change for land users, including women and children, land owners, traditional authorities, public administrations, and the agribusiness sector.

 

Ich bin ein Alternativtext
Kinjor is a small town in the lush forests of western Liberia,about hundred kilometres away from the capital Monrovia. © Land Rights Team/Welthungerhilfe

Land is crucial to national development, which makes it relevant to political actors. It is also a valuable economic asset; a fact, which makes land governance prone to corruption – particularly in countries with weak governmental structures. In Africa, every second person reported that they have paid a bribe for land services (Transparency International 2013). It also means that people with less influence may likely fall prey to others who claim certain rights. For people like Edwin, however, land is a matter of survival and livelihood improvement. Land rights and land governance are at the core of rural development, including local food security and agriculture.

 

Given the complexity and the dynamics that come into play, one way to address this issue may be Multi-Actor Partnerships (MAP), an approach that the International Land Coalition, the German NGO Welthungerhilfe and African civil society partners, such as the Liberian NGO Rights and Rice Foundation, have been supporting for a couple of years. Those MAP engage all relevant actors into constructive and interactive dialogue based on human rights values, such as transparency and inclusiveness. Based on a joint analysis of the situation and on a commonly defined goal, these MAP have the potential to limit abuses, create a dignified environment and expand opportunities for all. Actors need to understand why Edwin has to hide food and why his children remain outside the school system.

Ich bin ein Alternativtext
Ma Sando Wilson is Edwin`s wife. © Land Rights Team/Welthungerhilfe

Given the existing power imbalances, particular attention must be given to the meaningful participation of legitimate civil society representatives in such fora.

 

An opportunity equally presents itself by regulating that farmers in Kinjor contribute a quota to a local development fund, so they can get a better training, buy added value items from dealers and receive additional training from their contributions.

 

For the past four and half years Liberia has been struggling to pass the land rights bill into law and fighting for a law that will support the decentralization of development planning, especially in terms of tenure rights for customary people. On 23 August 2018, the Liberian senate passed the land rights bill with modifications on the bill earlier passed by the lower house, in keeping with demands from the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), communities and other stakeholders about the previous 2017 bill. With this passage, the Senate and the house committees will now meet and ensure that the lower house concurs with what has been passed by the Senate, after which the bill will be forwarded to the president of Liberia for approval. However, the example of Edwin’s case illustrates the challenges to putting such a new bill into practice. If we actually want to end world hunger, local realities of Edwin and others must be carefully studied. Based on this, concrete actions are required to eliminate and reduce chances of a malpractice system that in fact caters only to the elites. For more than a century, Liberia has lived at the mercy of the elites which has received little attention from the world. This has resulted into open neglect, thereby forcing citizens to become corrupt themselves without considering that ultimately it is the entire nation that suffers and it is the citizens that will continue to pay the price.

 

Opening political spaces for socio-political dialogue would give Edwin and others the opportunity to speak out about his challenges. It is also an opportunity for the government to listen to the challenges that farmers are facing. Agribusiness can also render some basic judgement in terms of employment, services provided and conditions necessary for their investment. In this manner, dialogue fora can really evolve into Multi-Actor Partnerships based on a common vision of improved land governance that will serve and reconcile the interests of all.

 

BY: M. Sahr Nouwah & Rose Korleh, Land Rights Team, Liberia, 19 July 2018.

 

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Global responsibility: Tackling hunger is the only way forward

By Lisa Hücking (WHH)

Chancellor Merkel has begun an ambitious European political programme: Striving for compromise in budget negotiations, an orderly Brexit as well as an appropriate response to the corona crisis. Unfortunately, one of her positions that she previously held is nowhere to be found: Africa's prosperity is in the interest of Europe. 

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Reference values: A building block on the road to social equality

Article by Friederieke Martin (GIZ)

A quick and cost-effective method calculates living wages and incomes for many different countries. The GIZ together with Fairtrade International and Richard and Martha Anker have developed a tool that companies can use to easily analyse income and wage gaps.

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Quinoa could have a huge potential in Central Asia, where the Aral Sea Basin has been especially hard-hit by salinisation.

Supermarket Scorecard on Human Rights

By Dr. Franziska Humbert (Oxfam)

Oxfam’s supermarket scorecard, which is in its third year, shows one thing in particular - it works! Supermarkets can change their business policies and focus more on the rights of those people around the world who plant and harvest food. However, this does not happen without pressure. 

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Quinoa could have a huge potential in Central Asia, where the Aral Sea Basin has been especially hard-hit by salinisation.

Africa's face of agriculture is female

By Beatrice Gakuba

Africa has a huge opportunity to make agriculture its economic driver. However, the potential for this is far from being made exhaustive use of, one reason being that women face considerable difficulties in their economic activities. The organisation AWAN Afrika seeks to change this state of affairs.

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Success story allotment garden: Food supply and women's empowerment

By Nadine Babatounde and Anne Floquet

To prevent malnutrition among young children and strengthen the role of women in their communities, Misereor, together with the local non-governmental organisation CEBEDES, is implementing a programme on integrated home gardens in Benin - a series of pictures.

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Quinoa could have a huge potential in Central Asia, where the Aral Sea Basin has been especially hard-hit by salinisation.

Video: 4 Questions to Claudia Makdristo

By Seedstars

Startups are booming in African agriculture. What are the current trend and challenges – and can other regions benefit from innovative approaches? A Video-Interview with Claudia Makadristo, Regional Manager of Seedstars  

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From Berlin to Yen Bai: 10,000 trees for Vietnam

By GIZ and BMZ

It began with clicks at a trade fair and ends with concrete reforestation: a campaign at the Green Week in Berlin is now enriching the forests of the Yen Bai Province in Vietnam. A chronicle of an education about climatic relevance to concrete action - and about the short distances on our planet.

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Quinoa could have a huge potential in Central Asia, where the Aral Sea Basin has been especially hard-hit by salinisation.

Planetary Health: Recommendations for a Post-Pandemic World

By Dr. Kathleen Mar and Dr. Nicole de Paula

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, health is receiving unprecedented public and political attention. Yet the fact that climate change is also affecting the environmental and social determinants of health in a profound and far-reaching way deserves further recognition.

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Innovations for a secure food supply

By German Agribusiness Alliance

The COVID 19 pandemic is hitting developing and emerging countries and their poorest populations particularly hard. It is important to take countermeasures at an early stage. Companies in the German agricultural sector want to make their contribution to ensuring the availability of urgently needed operating resources.

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Turning many into one: CGIAR network restructures

By Jan Rübel

International agricultural research is responding to new challenges: Their advisory group is undergoing a fundamental reform process and unites knowledge, partnerships and physical assets into OneCGIAR.

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The human finca

Interview with Marvin Antonio Garcia Otero

In Eastern El Salvador, campesinos are cultivating a self-image to encourage rural youth to remain in rural areas. With help from Caritas, they have adjusted the cultivation methods to their soils and traditions - Marvin Antonio Garcia Otero,the deputy director of Caritas of the Diocese of San Miguel believes this is the best way to prevent rural exodus and criminality.

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Good health is impossible without healthy food

By Heino von Meyer

Corona makes it even more difficult to achieve a world without hunger by 2030. So that this perspective does not get out of sight, Germany must play a stronger role internationally - a summary of the Strategic Advisory Group of SEWOH.

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© GIZ

Actual Analysis: The locusts came with the crises

By Bettina Rudloff and Annette Weber (SWP)

The Corona-Virus exacerbates existing crises through conflict, climate, hunger and locusts in East Africa and the Horn of Africa. What needs to be done in these regions? To face these challenges for many countries, all of these crises need to be captured in their regional context.

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© GIZ

One Health – What we are learning from the Corona crisis

Dr. May Hokan and Dr. Arnulf Köhncke (WWF)

Due to the coronavirus crisis, the connection between human and animal health has gained new attention. Politicians and scientists are joining forces to propagate the solution: One Health. But what is behind the concept? And can it also guarantee food security for all people worldwide?

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© GIZ

Resilient small-scale agriculture: A key in global crises

By Kerstin Weber and Brit Reichelt-Zolho (WWF)

Biodiversity and sustainable agriculture ensure the nutrition of whole societies. But there is more: These two factors also provide better protection against the outbreak of dangerous pandemics. Hence, the question of preserving ecosystems is becoming a global survival issue.

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© GIZ

Ideas on the ground: Local solutions for global challenges

Interview with Sebastian Lesch (BMZ)

A world without hunger and with sufficient healthy food as well as climate-friendly agriculture can only be achieved if ideas are transformed into innovations and ultimately also applied - a conversation with BMZ Head of Division Sebastian Lesch on the Innovation Challenge programme of the new Agricultural Innovation Fund.

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Developing countries hit doubly hard by coronavirus

By Gunter Beger (BMZ)

In most African countries, the infection COVID-19 is likely to trigger a combined health and food crisis. This means: In order to cope with this unprecedented crisis, consistently aligning our policies to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is more important than ever, our author maintains.

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“Corona exposes the weaknesses of our nutritional systems"

Interview with Arif Husain (WFP)

The United Nations plan a Food Systems Summit - and now the Corona-Virus is dictating the agenda. The Chief Economist of the UN World Food Programme takes stock of the current situation: a conversation with Jan Rübel about pandemics, about the chromosomes of development - and about the conflicts that inhibit them.

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“Healthy ground brings good and many fruits”

Interview with Ben Sekamatte and Boaz Ogola

Africa's cotton production plays a key role in the fight against poverty. The "Cotton Made in Africa" initiative promotes sustainable cultivation - one element of which is the use of organic pesticides. Entomologist Ben Sekamatte and cotton company manager Boaz Ogola talked with Jan Rübel about soil and yields.

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Hier steht eine Bildbeschreibung

Statement from GAFSP Co-Chairs: GAFSP and COVID-19 Pandemic

By GAFSP

COVID-19 has unprecedented effects on the world. As always, the most vulnerable are the hardest hit, both at home and - especially - abroad. A joint appeal by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ) and the Department for International Development (DFID).

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(c) Welthungerhilfe

5 questions to F. Patterson: Why is there more hunger?

Interview with Fraser Patterson

Every year in October, the "Welthungerhilfe" aid organisation, with the Irish "Concern Worldwide" NGO, publishes the Global Hunger Index, a tool with which the hunger situation is recorded. What are the trends - and what needs to be done?

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(c) Joerg Boethling/GIZ

What it takes now

By Heike Baumüller

Artificial intelligence, big data and blockchain are the hottest topics of our time. The digital transformation of the African agricultural sector is ready for take-off. What will it take for the future of technology to hit the ground running?

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(c) Katapult/GIZ

The digitised farmyard

By Jan Rübel

Lots of apps are entering the market, but what really makes sense? For African agriculture, some of it seems like a gimmick, some like a real step forward. So this is what a smallholder farm in Africa could look like today - with the help of smartphones, internet and electricity. 

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(c) Christoph Pueschner/Zeitenspiegel

Can this end world hunger?

By Stig Tanzmann

Time to dig deeper: We can only benefit from technical progress if we have a solid legal framework for everybody. But so far, none is in sight - in many countries. Instead, international corporations grow ever more powerful.

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(c) Christoph Pueschner/Zeitenspiegel

From start to finish: a vision of interconnectivity

By Tanja Reith

At the moment, the agricultural industries of African countries exist in relative isolation. Imagine peasant farmers digitally connected to the value chains of the global food industry. How could this happen? A guidebook.

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"Pandemic increases violence against women"

Interview with Léa Rouanet

African countries still face huge gender gaps in terms of access to work and capital. What are the consequences of Corona for women in Africa? Jan Rübel interviewed Léa Rouanet on lockdowns and gender-based violence. The economist works at the Africa Gender Innovation Lab of the World Bank.

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Gender equality: Essential for food and nutrition security

By Carsta Neuenroth (BfdW)

The majority of producers in developing countries are women. Although they contribute significantly to the food security of their families, they remain chronically disadvantaged in male-dominated agriculture in terms of access to land, credit, technology and education.

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Building our food systems back better

By Jes Weigelt and Alexander Müller

What is required to make food systems provide sufficient, healthy food while not harming the planet? How should food security be maintained given the threat posed by climate change? Our authors look at some aspects of tomorrow’s food systems against the backdrop of the corona crisis.

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"We must mobilise all available resources"

By Ismahane Elouafi (ICBA)

Freshwater deficits are affecting more and more people throughout the world. In order to counter this, our global food system will have to change, our author maintains. A case for more research on alternative crops and smart water solutions.

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Do we have to dare a new food system?

By Dr. Felix zu Löwenstein (BÖLW)

Lack of seasonal workers and virus explosion in slaughterhouses, rising vegetable prices, climate crisis – all this demonstrates: Our food system is highly productive and (at least for the rich inhabitants of planet earth) guarantees an unprecedented rich and steady food supply - but it is not resilient.

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Video diaries in the days of Corona: Voices from the ground

By Sarah D´haen & Alexander Müller, Louisa Nelle, Bruno St. Jaques, Sarah Kirangu-Wissler and Matteo Lattanzi (TMG)

Young farmers’ insights on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on food systems in Sub-Saharan Africa @CovidFoodFuture and video diaries from Nairobi’s informal settlements.

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"The virus does not need visa"

Interview by Dr. Ahmed Ouma (CDC)

Countries across Africa coordinate their efforts in the fight against corona by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) of the African Union in Addis Abeba. Until now, the curve of new infections has been successfully flattened – why? Dr. Ahmed Ouma, Deputy Director, explains the work of CDC in an interview with Tilman Wörtz.

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