African New Habitat Agenda Priorities

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African New Habitat Agenda Priorities
By: Ahmed Mansour Ismail and Dr. Daniel W. Ambaye
23 February 2016

HABITAT III Africa Regional Meeting

“African Priorities for the New Urban Agenda”

Land and African Sustainable Urbanization, side event organized by GLTN

Abuja, Nigeria, 23 February 2016

Summary prepared by Ahmed Mansour Ismail (HIC-HLRN) and Dr. Daniel W. Ambaye (Institute of Land Administration)

Mr Ernest Aubee, ECOWAS (as moderator) introduced the panelists and further emphasized the thematic area for the session with the prediction that, by 2050, Africa will be 60% urban and the need to make preparations to ensure fulfillment of the SDGs.

Also, he mentioned that land governance is the most-challenging issue in Africa. The land policy makers have failed to consider the importance of land for sustainable urbanization. Land is not yet considered as commercial asset and, hence, economically less significant than in other regions. Land alienation and the absence of a functioning land market have contributed to land rather becoming a source of corruption. Land-use restrictions and the lack of access to land through clear and transparent methods have led to significant slum living conditions in urban areas. In addition, the majority of conflicts in Africa are related to land claims and disputes. He further pinpointed the possible issues related to urban land that need focus:

  • Land market and economic value of land,

  • Slum problems,

  • Land conflict,

  • Lack of land rights (tenure security),

  • Land-value sharing, and

  • Environmental issues.

Dr. Larbi (Land Policy Initiative LPI - Ethiopia) introduced LPI, established in 2006 by an agreement among the African Economic Commission, African Union and African Development Bank to encourage African states to recognize the importance of land for development. In 2009, the AU adopted the Declaration on Land Issues and Challenges in Africa to secure land rights of the people and reduce conflict.

The declaration recommended that African states:

  • Prioritize and initiate a land policy framework for their countries

  • Support an institutional setup to monitor and implement the land policy

  • Allocate adequate budgetary resources to implement and run the operational activities

  • Ensure land be allocated equitably to all, and especially protect vulnerable groups

  • Pay special attention to strengthening women’s land rights

  • Use the regional economic community to create a forum for discussion on implementation.

LPI has also further developed, or has helped to develop the:

  • Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa (2010) for development, implementation and monitoring of land policy

  • Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Land Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (2011)

  • Guiding Principles on Large-scale Land-based Investments (2014).

Ms. MargaretOkolo-Ebube (Director of Federal Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Nigeria) pointed out the rapid urbanization in Africa and the centrality of land in this process. Secure land rights are a prerequisite for development, as no sustainable development and investment can be attained without secure land rights. To ensure this, for example, in Nigeria systematic land registration has been carried out, driven by a lack of reliable land information systems in the country. The rest of her message was captured in the following three important points:

  • Secure land rights for all

  • Ensure land rights for vulnerable groups

  • The need for comprehensive land policy

Professor J.M. Lussaga (Ardhi University, Tanzania) presented African urbanization problems and challenges in four thematic areas as follows:

  • Physical and technical problems

    • Growing slums

    • Urban development without land use plan

    • Lack of tenure security

  • Land-governance deficit

    • Marginalization of low income people

    • Low compensation during expropriation

    • Diminishing public land for community engagement

    • Continued corruption

  • Institutional and legal matters

    • Continuous decentralization and lack of coordination

    • Improper planning laws

    • Inappropriate and restrictive land rights laws

  • Climate-change effects

    • Diminishing green areas

    • Disappearance of wetlands

    • Congestion of urban areas

    • Absence of waste disposal systems

    • Deforestation of nearby countryside

    Mr. Ahmed Mansour (Habitat International Coalition – Housing and Land Rights Network—HIC-HLRN)presented the responsibilities and commitments of governments in the urbanization processes. He focused participants’ attention on the commitments and achievements of states during the past twenty years of the Habitat II implementation period. He explained how HIC is concerned about human rights aspects of land in the struggles of people around the world, and specifically emphasized growing concern over the practice of forcibly evicting people from their land for large-scale, land-based investment without adequate reparations. Governments have the duty to respect all types of tenure, whether formal or informal, registered or unregistered such customary tenure, pastoralists’ use, or for housing in many informal settlements.

    He further noted the pillars of any urban land policy as reflecting equity of land access and justice, equality of all before the law, citizenship rights (such as no discrimination against citizens in service delivery), and public participation in urbanization and related land-based development activities. Further, Mansour referred to states’ Habitat I and II commitments to innovate land-value sharing, whereby the state captures increased values to be used in strengthening local governments’ capacities to provide services, prioritizing those in greatest need. By strengthening and carefully designing the urban-rural linkage, it should be also possible for rural and peri-urban people to benefit from the urbanization process.

    In summary the core messages from Mr. Mansour were:

    • The need to be transparent in land based investments;

    • The obligation to Protect, Respect, fulfill with all forms of tenure;

    • Equal treatment of citizens in access to the land;

    • Equity in land access and value sharing

    • Strengthening the Balance in the development urban and rural;

    • Slum upgrading in consultation with holders.

    Mr. Oumar Sylla (director of Global Land Tools Network—GLTN) offered practical solutions to the above problems as developed by his organization. He reminded the participants that the lack of tenure security in Africa emanates mainly because 70 percent of all urban land in Africa is not formalized; no developed cadaster exists in many African urban centers. To ensure tenure security, therefore, requires recognizing all forms of tenure systems. This is what is known as the “continuum of land rights” for which a working framework has been developed by GLTN. He also emphasized the need to assist member states to formulate their land policies. Even if there are good laws, implementation is still a problem due to lack of capacity.

    To address such and other problems raised by panelists, GLTN has developed some practical tools:

    • The Social Domain Tenure Model (STDM) to recognize all forms of tenure rights

    • An integrated approach in urban rural land governance and information system

    • Development of land information systems/cadaster that helps advance the tenure security efforts

    • Good land-based financial mechanisms.

    Finally, the chairperson provided opportunities for participants to give comments and raise questions. Because of the shortage of time, only four people were given the chance to take the floor.

    One comment was about the need of political will, in order to realize the Habitat Agenda. Unless African leaders are committed to the Agenda, it will be futile to embark on such an endeavor.

    The second question was focused on the interests of the youth. The participant asked whether there is explicit provision in the Agenda that addresses those interests.

    Another related observation was that, as African youth tries to engage in business, financing becomes problematic as banks usually demand to mortgage land or housing that the young entrepreneur does not actually own. This situation constrains the role of youth in the urbanization process, unless and until we create access housing for adequate and secure housing tenure for youth as well.

    The fourth and final comment was observation about the absence of land management in the Habitat III documents. Land is often exposed to degradation and poor land management, rapidly depleting the land as a resource.

    Photo: Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, (2nd left), Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN (left) and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Mohammed Bello(2nd right) during the Habitat III Africa Regional Meeting with the theme, “African Priorities for the New Urban Agenda,” hosted by the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, Thursday, 25 February 2016. Source: Lagos Today.

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