Best practice sharing set to improve land governance in EAC countries

EAC member states flags. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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

This is being done within the realm 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 laws of individual partner states.

Will this help? Tremendously. The states are currently at different levels of land policy development. For instance, while South Sudan is yet to complete the formulation of its land policy, Rwanda reviewed its 2004 land policy in 2019, and moved on to the second implementation phase.

Tanzania is at the tail end of reviewing its 1995 land policy, while Kenya is just beginning to review its 2009 policy. When these countries therefore share, there’s compelling mutual learning.

Improvement in land governance within the region is expected to make significant contribution to the realisation of some of the regional co-operation areas. These include agriculture and food security, tourism and wildlife, infrastructure, and also environment and natural resources management.

The 2009 African Union Declaration on land issues urges regional economic communities within Africa to convene periodic platforms to facilitate the sharing of lessons learnt, and the dissemination of best practices in land policy development.

The EAC has now taken up this commitment through the Sectoral Council on Environment and Natural Resources, and has been making good progress. With the support of the African Land Policy Center, an assessment of the status of land policy development within EAC partner states was done earlier this year.

The capacity of the EAC Secretariat to oversee the implementation of the AU Declaration within the region has been enhanced.

A regional steering committee consisting of representatives of State ministries responsible for land and regional co-operation was established with the responsibility of providing policy guidance to the implementation process. That done, the EAC went on to hold 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, and the online land management portal, Ardhisasa. Uganda demonstrated progress made in the computerisation of its land ownership records and maps, while Rwanda showcased best practices in the digitisation of land services and land use planning.

Tanzania highlighted progress made in enhancing tenure security in its villages and South Sudan tabled lessons from its ongoing land policy formulation process. Burundi provided experiences from its stakeholder collaboration mechanisms and land use planning. All very helpful to country-level initiatives.

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