Land Tenure Systems and their Impacts on Food Security and Sustainable Development in Africa
by: Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)
Concerns over the food security situation in sub-Saharan Africa are reflected in the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to reduce the number of food insecure by half by 2015. Given that land plays an important role in the livelihoods of the majority of Africans, food security and poverty reduction cannot be achieved unless issues of access to land, security of tenure and the capacity to use land productively and in a sustainable manner are addressed. Recent food security crises in Africa have revived the debate on whether current land tenure systems constrain farmer innovation and investment in agriculture. Both direct and indirect linkages between land tenure and food security are suggested. Recognizing the importance of a better understanding of these linkages, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) undertook a study in 2002/2003 on the Impacts of Land Tenure on Food Security and Sustainable Development, with the following objectives:
a) To improve the current understanding of the linkages between land tenure systems, food security and sustainable natural resource management in Africa;
b) To assess the current land tenure policy reforms in selected African countries using case studies and emphasizing the extent to which these reforms aim to enhance food security and natural resource management and identifying major
c) To draw lessons based on best practices as well as failures of ongoing and past policies and their implementation; and
d) To make policy recommendations to assist States in addressing issues of land reform implementation and hence improve their food security situation and the stewardship of natural resources.
These fall within the intermediate objective of examining the extent to which ongoing reforms are geared towards the achievement of food security and natural resource management, and how land tenure issues are being integrated into broader development strategies. Th e study findings were presented as a background paper to an expert group meeting held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in April 2003, and the final paper has been revised according to the recommendations of this group.