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Mozambique looks at alternative ways to peacefully resolve land disputes


Mozambique’s land regularization programme Terra Segura/Mozland seeks to provide land use rights certificates to millions of small farmers and improve the delimitation of communities and individual land parcels throughout the country.

The country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Land and Environment are carrying out the programme, with support from the World Bank and FAO.

Under the initiative, FAO recently hosted a webinar on managing land conflicts in Mozambique through alternative dispute resolution, or ADR.

ADR generally involves settling disputes through less formal means, like negotiation or mediation, rather than in a court of law.

Land conflict management is particularly relevant for Mozambique, said Fabrice Edouard, an FAO agricultural officer and one of the webinar’s moderators.

“The Government is currently revising its Land Policy, discussing, among other issues, the management and monitoring of land disputes,” he said. “And it is dealing with the involuntary resettlement of thousands of displaced people in the country’s northern region.”

“Resolving land conflicts at scale requires a combination of ADR and improved formal judicial systems, which is why it is important to strengthen the Land Policy, institutions and capacities of lawyers, judges, paralegals and traditional authorities,” he added.

During the two-day webinar, representatives from the Governments of Mozambique and Nicaragua, FAO staff from headquarters, FAO consultants in Tanzania, Niger and Senegal, judicial experts from Brazil and others shared their experiences and lessons with ADR.

In his opening remarks, Lazaro Gumede from the National Directorate of Land and Territorial Development in the Ministry of Land and Environment, spoke of the importance of creating a national system to identify and monitor land tenure conflicts that is flexible and participatory.

Adriano Campolina, coordinator of FAO’s Land tenure team, noted that FAO has long been supporting the Government of Mozambique on land issues, from preparing the first Mozambican Land Law in 1997 to developing the capacity of paralegals to improve implementation of land rights for rural women.

Co-moderator and FAO Land Tenure Specialist Francisco Carranza added that rural paralegals must be involved in supporting implementation of ADR in Mozambique.

Sharing experiences and lessons

Panelists covered a range of topics – from resolving land disputes in Tanzania through a mix of formal and informal systems, to using multi-actor platforms for conflict prevention and mediation in West Africa, to understanding the role of safeguards in the resettlement process in northern Mozambique, among others.

They discussed the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security.

The Voluntary Guidelines – the first international agreement to strengthen and secure land rights in the context of food security – are designed to benefit all, with a particular focus on vulnerable and marginalized people.

The webinar was also a chance to learn from other regions on what has worked and why.

For more than two decades, Nicaragua’s Land Administration Project, known as PRODEP, has promoted individual and collective land tenure rights for smallholders, greater access among women to land titles and collective rights managed by indigenous communities or rural villages.

Conflict mediation has been an essential component in PRODEP’s property registry process, with a designated land cadastral entity that provides services for settling land disputes.

Panelist pointed out common challenges, including the lack of knowledge of ADR and skills in applying it.

“There are a lot of similarities between these large-scale land projects in Tanzania, Mozambique, Nicaragua and Brazil, particularly on the need to develop capacity to apply ADR to resolve land disputes and the regularization of land tenure,” Edouard said. “I hope we can continue to strengthen this inter-regional collaboration and exchange.”

Learn more about FAO’s land administration toolkit and ongoing work on land tenure issues.

Photo credit All photos by © FAO/Paballo Thekiso, photo of women working together by © FAO/Giuseppe Bizzarri