“Boosting local capacity to manage land conflicts and protect customary rights” – Introducing the LAND-at-scale project in Mali | Land Portal

The Netherlands Agency for Enterprise and Development (RVO) is pleased to announce its collaboration with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN) in Bamako, SNV, the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), the University of Legal and Political Sciences of Bamako and the National Coordination of Peasant Organizations for implementation of a LAND-at-scale project in Mali "Strengthening local capacities to manage land conflicts and protect customary rights". The intervention will run until 2023 and has a budget of €1.3 million.

Tensions and land conflicts have always existed in Mali. Formal law and customary law coexist, causing legal duality and ambiguity. Competition for land and natural resources is increasing, as are land disputes, especially in rural areas. Contested fields and pastoral resources cannot be used, while conflict resolution is costly and undermines social cohesion. Conflict resolution requires a lot of time and resources, especially when it is brought before the courts and can exacerbate tensions between communities. More than 80% of smallholder farmers and pastoralists access land through customary land tenure systems. Given the important role that Customs plays in rural areas, formal legal recognition of these customary rights is important. At the same time, customary patrilineal systems do not grant inheritance or property rights to women, while women officially have the same citizenship status as men. Young people depend on the permission of their elders, which also undermines their position. All this is part of the context of a country in violent conflict since 2012.

The LAND-at-scale project focuses specifically on land commissions, which are a key structure of the Agricultural Orientation Law (LOA) and the Agricultural Land Law (LFA). These commissions are responsible for implementing the LFA in support of conflict mediation and local land security for all. However, only 30% of Mali's communes have set up a Land Commission.  By establishing and strengthening the capacity of land commissions, LAND-at-scale aims to contribute to a transparent and sustainable legal and institutional framework for the management of customary land tenure. The establishment of functional, inclusive, legitimate and accountable land commissions at the local level will increase conflict resolution capacity.  Ultimately, the objective of the large-scale LAND intervention is to promote stability, food security, climate-resilient agricultural development and natural resource management by strengthening security of tenure and improving access to land and natural resources, paying particular attention to the inclusion of women and pastoralists.

"Considering that land security is a basis for agricultural productivity, food stocks, income generation and social protection, inclusive and transparent land management institutions will contribute to the resilience and food security of households, as well as the well-being of different user groups, including women, youth and other secondary rights holders. " said Boukary Guindo, Project Manager at SNV. “The Land Commissions, which bring together various state, civil and peasant, statutory, formal and customary, informal stakeholders, belong to the main institutions to achieve these objectives."

Specific project strategies to strengthen the role of land commissions include:

  • Formalization of a coordination mechanism for capacity building for sustainable, inclusive and transparent land commissions.
  • Provide a thematic approach for validating and sharing the capacities of land commissions, with a focus on mediation and inclusion.
  • Establishment of an independent monitoring and evaluation system for land commissions
  • Establishment of a network and an exchange organization for land commissions.

Moumouni Damango, Head of Food Security Policy at the Embassy of the Netherlands in Bamako, stresses the importance of land governance interventions in Mali:"In 7 of our ongoing programmes, land governance is addressed from different thematic angles: it is essential for development efforts in water and food security programmes,  because land disputes are a key factor in Mali's instability. Support for land governance and the strengthening of land commissions is a key mechanism for securing rural land resources and maintaining stability and social cohesion.

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs finances LAND-at-scale. To stay up to date on this land-at-scale project and others, please  sign up for our quarterly newsletter.

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