Member States of east African regional bloc intergovernmental authority on development (IGAD) advised to strengthen dialogue on land governance and management in the sub-region.

The advice came in one of the IGAD-organized pre-eventsleading to the second biennial Conference on Land Policy in Africa scheduled tobe heldin Addis Abebanext week.

Ethiopia’s state minister for agriculture and natural resources, KabaUrgessa, urged IGAD member States to use the platform to share experiences and challenges related to effective land administration.

Kabasaid land is one critical resource on which Africa’s socio-economic development is anchored and therefore should be properly managed.

“This regional dialogue is one of the successful achievements of IGAD, member States and development partners in establishing a regional dialogue platform which is one of the calls of the AU Declaration on Land,” he said.

“This is the start, we have to continue strengthening the regional dialogue platform to share our best practices and challenges in the land sector, in particular land harmonizing and integration agenda in the IGAD region,” Kaba added.

‘Poor Governance’

Experts say one of the root causes in land the current poor land management in the continent is the inefficient and non-inclusive use of the land resources.

ECA’s Capacity Development Division Director, Stephen Karingi, said the challenges are compounded by the reality that many land administration systems are not informed by rigorous research.

“The result is a system with poor governance and accountability, and as a consequence they do not guarantee security of tenure for the majority of the population including women and vulnerable groups,” said Karingi, adding this should not be the case for a continent with nearly 60 percent of the world’s arable uncultivated land.

Policies

For his part, Mohamed Moussa, Director of Agriculture and Environment Division at IGAD, said the majority of African governments have embarked on land policy and institutional reforms to address land issues in the context of national development.

“The key issues that need to be addressed in this context are securing land rights to improve livelihoods and facilitate economic development; the centrality of urban land delivery and urban land development; natural resource access and sustaining common property resources; property rights and environmental sustainability; equitable land distribution and restoring wasted and alienated land; land and gender issues; and land and conflict,” he told participants.

“This kind of regional dialogue platform is a very important step in this regard,” Peter Sidler, from the Embassy of Switzerland in Ethiopia’s Swiss Cooperation Office, said.