Sharing best practices to improve land governance in EAC countries


Sharing best practices to improve land governance in EAC countries

Flags of EAC member states. FILE PHOTO | NMG

East African Community (EAC) partner states have begun to share lessons and best practices in land policy development.

This is done within the framework of Article 15 of the EAC Market Protocol which provides that access to and use of land and premises shall be governed by national policies and the laws of individual Partner States.

Will this help? Enormously. States are currently at different levels of land policy development. For example, while South Sudan has not yet completed the formulation of its land policy, Rwanda reviewed its 2004 land policy in 2019 and moved into the second phase of implementation.

Tanzania is about to review its 1995 land policy, while Kenya is just beginning to review its 2009 policy. When these countries share so, there is compelling mutual learning.

Improving land governance in the region should make a significant contribution to achieving some of the areas of regional cooperation. These include agriculture and food security, tourism and wildlife, infrastructure, and environmental and natural resource management.

The 2009 African Union Declaration on Land Issues urges Regional Economic Communities in Africa to convene periodic platforms to facilitate sharing of lessons learned and dissemination of best practices in land policy development.

The EAC has now made this commitment through the Environment and Natural Resources Sector Council and has made good progress. With the support of the African Land Policy Center, an assessment of the status of land policy development in the EAC Partner States was carried out earlier this year.

The capacity of the EAC Secretariat to oversee the implementation of the AU Declaration in the region has been strengthened.

A regional steering committee composed of representatives of the state ministries in charge of territory and regional cooperation has been created with the responsibility of providing political guidance to the implementation process. With that done, the EAC held its first regional forum in Kampala, Uganda on 17-18 August 2022.

Kenya shared the Galana-Kulalu project and its intended contribution to food security, as well as the online land management portal, Ardhisasa. Uganda demonstrated progress in computerizing its land ownership registers and maps, while Rwanda showcased best practices in digitizing land services and land use planning.

Tanzania highlighted progress made in strengthening land security in its villages and South Sudan presented lessons learned from its ongoing land policy formulation process. Burundi provided experiences of its stakeholder collaboration mechanisms and land use planning. All very useful for country-level initiatives.

Gregory M. Roy