Interrogating Large Scale Land Acquisitions (LSLAs) and its Implications for Women’s Land rights in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)

Centre for Basic Research in collaboration with University of Buea, Cameroon and the Centre for Gender Studies and Advocacy (GENGESA), University of Ghana, is implementing a project on Large scale Land acquisitions specifically looking at the impact on women¡¯s land rights.

This initiative, supported by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) aims at examining how and under what conditions women can be empowered to effectively participate in the processes of LSLA to ensure that the legal and policy frameworks foster better accountability and legitimacy in land governance in sub-Saharan Africa.

LSLA generally known as the process by which both local and foreign investors acquire or lease large expanse of land in the global South for the production of exportable bio-fuels and food has repositionedAfrica as a key player of globalization. The major question then relates to the impact of these LSLAs on the livelihoods of the majority citizens. Based on case studies from Cameroon, Ghana and Uganda, this study is investigating and analyse the extent to which land governance in sub Saharan Africa enforces accountability or excludes women to the benefits of comprador elites such as chiefs, governments and TNCs in the process of large scale land acquisition as well as citizen responses to these transactions.

The design of the study is action oriented in the sense that it seeks to actively engage key stakeholders in identifying mechanisms for upholding accountability on the party of duty bearers, or demanding accountability in as far as rights holders, women in particular, are concerned.

Objectives
The main objective is to examine the conditions under which women can be empowered to effectively participate in the processes of LSLAs and to ensure that the legal and policy frameworks foster better accountability and legitimacy on issues of land governance in SSA. The study specifically attempts to:

  • Explore the formal and informal rules and mechanisms employed by actors involved in LSLA in the various study areas;
  • Create gender sensitive evidence-based knowledge and strategies availableto women, local communities, NGOs, governments, and international actors to enhance accountability and legitimacy in LSLA processes that promote and respect women¡¯s rights;

The study Approach
The study will be conducted in selected sites in Cameroon, Ghana and Uganda. The research is designed to be action oriented in the sense that it will seek to actively engage key stakeholders.It applies variables such as the level of women¡¯s consultation, participation, representation, transparency, collaboration, compensation, empowerment, as opposed to the existence of protests, lawsuits, resistance, conflicts or the absence of institutions and avenues to exercise citizen rights to demand accountability to measure the extent of accountability and legitimacy in the process of LSLA in the sub region.

The Consortium
The project is supported by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada under Ms. Ramata Thioune of the IDRC Regional office in Nairobi- Kenya. It is executed as consortium of three is led by:

Professor Darkwah Akosua Keseboa
Centre for Gender Studies and Advocacy, University of Ghana
Principal Investigator for the Ghana Team

 

Lotsmart Fonjong, Ph.D.
Social Science research Group University of Buea
General coordinator and Principal Investigator for the Cameroon team

 

Professor Ahikire Josephine
Centre for Basic Research
Kampala, Uganda
Principal Investigator
for the Uganda Team

Research team at CBR
- Josephine Ahikire, PhD. Team leader
- Juliet Kanyesigye- co-researcher
- Maria Nassali, PhD- co-researcher

Activities
Inception Workshop
The inception workshop was held on April 30, 2014, at Centre for Basic Research (CBR). The workshop brought together civil society actors, scholars, students and members of the media fraternity. The inception workshop was aimed at informing stakeholders about the research, solicit their support and generate ideas about possible research sites.

Speaking at the inception workshop, Prof. Ahikire noted that large scale Land acquisition raises the whole issue about livelihoods. The land rush especially in Sub Saharan Africa requires through examination especially with regard to its impact on women¡¯s land rights. She indicated that land rights are under-researched thus justifying the focus of this study. Accordingly key questions emerge in as far as women¡¯s land rights are concerned: "Is it about women owning land, what do women land rights mean?¡± It was hence noted that the planned study is to interrogate the interface between LSLAs and women¡¯s land rights taking the concrete conditions of the local context. Ahikire further indicated that the project is centered on key questions of accountability as rights and ower- how far citizens are able to claim rights as well as the legitimacy of laws and policies.

Juliet Kanyesigye presenting at the inception workshop, CBR April 30, 2014

Project launch
CBR researchers, Ahikire, Nassali and Kanyesigye participated in the project launch at University of BUEA, Cameroon. The Buea launching was presided over by the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Buea, Professor Nalova Lyonga who congratulated the consortium for winning the grant and thanked IDRC the support to research in Africa. Ramata Thione from the IDRC office in Nairobi highlighted the mission, goals and activities of IDRC while Fonjong and Ahikire presented the project to the public. The goal of the launch was largely accomplished as the event was able to introduce the project to the general public and bring together stakeholders to exchange different views on LSLA. The event was well attended with over 200 participants drawn from the government sector, politicians, and investors in LSLA, traditional leaders, civil society organizations and media.

Research
Fieldwork is currently underway in two sites in central and Northern Uganda.

Dissemination
Research results will be shared with key stakeholders; communities, policy makers and civil society actors, through dialogues and through academic publications, policy briefs and a research documentary. Furthermore, researchers will share findings at national and international conferences.

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We need to be organised- Women activist

1st, October 2014

Women activists have been asked to form an organized front to advocate for their causes other than having several voices speaking differently.

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\r\n This was said by Jane Alisemera Babiiha (former Bundibugyo MP) during a gender and political settlement event at Center for basic research, in Kololo.

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