Bottom-Up Accountability Initiatives and Large-Scale Land Acquisitions in Africa
The objective of this project is to test whether the Food and Agriculture Organization's Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security can help increase accountability for large-scale land acquisitions in Mali, Nigeria, Uganda, and South Africa. It will provide insight into the conditions under which international land governance instruments can be used to hold public authorities more accountable. This, in turn, may help locals secure the right to food in sub-Saharan Africa. From rural to urban In 2007, the absolute number of people living in urban centres worldwide overtook the number of people living in rural areas for the first time ever. As a result, the international development community's attention is increasingly turning urban. Yet data from the United Nations indicates that three-quarters of sub-Saharan Africa's poor still live and work in the countryside. Effective access to, and ownership over, land and natural resources remains critically important for the rural poor in Africa to be able to build decent economic livelihoods and participate meaningfully in decisions that affect their lives. Movement to acquire land on a large scale Against this backdrop, food, fuel/energy, climate, and financial crises have converged. One of the most immediate and important implications is the revaluation of land as a scare resource. This reality has driven industries, governments, communities, and individuals to acquire land at a scale never witnessed before. Africa has played centre stage to this wave of large-scale land acquisitions. Since 2006, international and domestic investors have acquired an estimated 50-80 million hectares of land in low- and middle-income countries. Research to investigate land acquisitions FIAN, the Foodfirst Information and Action Network, will implement the project. National citizen-based groups, regional and international civil society organizations, researchers, and policymakers interested in land issues will participate in the project. The research team will apply a case study and participatory action-research approach. The project is expected to generate evidence about how local residents can enhance their ability to promote more equitable, transparent, and accountable land acquisition mechanisms. Evidence for improved monitoring Project results will contribute to the UN Committee on World Food Security's monitoring mechanism. The evidence will also be shared with other relevant monitoring bodies at the national (parliamentary commissions, national human rights organizations), regional, and international levels (African and UN human rights systems).