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FAO and partners support historic land tenure forum in Niger - Strengthening stakeholders’ capacities for a fully participatory process

19/03/2018

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) actively supports ongoing efforts in implementing the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT) in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In this context, FAO has provided continuous support since 2016 in preparing a land tenure forum in Niger, called the “États généraux du foncier rural” and aiming to take stock on the tenure situation in the country.

The preparation of the États généraux, which has been a very inclusive process, culminated in February 2018 with a 4-day high level forum organized under the aegis of the President of the Republic. Attended by more than 300 participants from all sectors and regions of the country, the forum led to an agreement on an action plan and a consensus on elaborating a national land policy with VGGT as a reference.

Strengthening national capacities to ensure ownership and commitment

To steer the process towards the États généraux, a preparatory national multi-actor Committee has been put in place. The Committee, composed by representatives from ten Ministries, the national Rural Code institution, civil society, academia and FAO, was officially inaugurated in June 2017.

Over eight months the preparation of the États généraux has been characterized by a series of capacity development activities with the objective to include all stakeholder groups in the process. At an early stage, a stakeholders’ mapping was conducted with national partners in order to identify the key stakeholders including from the relevant Ministries, their relationships and the potential ‘change agents’.

In order to engage local stakeholders in the process, workshops and meetings were organized in all eight regions of Niger. These workshops allowed citizens from each region to discuss their tenure related concerns, present their recommendations and develop action-plans to prepare the États généraux.

Building consensus among key stakeholders ahead of the land forum

To ensure a full engagement of influential stakeholder groups, dialogue and information sessions were prepared with members of the Parliament, as well as with the traditional Chiefs from all regions.

Furthermore, “a pre-forum” was organized by the CSOs members of the National Committee. This preparatory civil society forum, which was combined with a 3-day VGGT training, brought together CSO representatives from all over the country with the objective to build consensus ahead of the États généraux. Civil society agreed on a common vision for a land policy and recommended to make use of the VGGT to support local governance initiatives in all regions of the country.

Engaging with the different groups from very beginning of the process and working separately with each of them helped to build trust and consensus prior to the engagement in the multi-stakeholder process.

From land forum to action

Engaging diverse stakeholders, often with divergent interests, in the process of building a common vision for land tenure is an ongoing challenge. From the outset of preparing the États généraux in Niger, FAO worked closely with the Rural Code and buy-in was built all along the process through regular meetings with the national authorities. Moving from the land forum to the actual implementation of its recommendations will require that influential stakeholders stay fully engaged in discussions on land tenure issues.

Mobilising a total of 15 technical and financial partners to support the land forum has been an important step to ensure sustainability of the process. These partners are expected to play a central role in supporting the implementation of the results of the forum. In order to build synergies between the tenure related activities and to conduct advocacy work vis-a-vis the State, these partners must continue to work in a concerted way.

The inauguration of new multi-actor Committee will be the immediate next step to start implementing the recommendations of the États généraux. Moreover, a series of capacity development activities will be launched at local level to ensure further strengthening of the capacities of the key stakeholders, including those most affected by tenure insecurity, to engage in the process towards the formulating of a coherent national land policy.

For more information

FAO Tenure website

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