Land pathway getting on their Learning route!

By Willem Bettink

This second day has been very dense with discussion and sharing of experiences that has moved the land pathway onto developing its initial thoughts for the learning route(s). The morning session opened by presenting a first digestion of thoughts based on the country experiences presented yesterday. The experiences with various local land use planning shared the concern of the risk to exclude some particular groups of the local population from access to land in particular pastoralists, and very poor women.

An innovative approach by the SWADE-project in Swaziland enabled the integration of local land use planning into local development planning involving the communities throughout the process. This led Sharefair participants in the land pathway to consider if they should address the local land issues in the broader context of a sustainable livelihoods plan instead of as a stand alone issue.

These reflections fitted well with the presentation of the scoping paper1 prepared by Fiona Flintan, which provides an overview of the benefits and challenges of customary land tenure systems. These include aspects such as: a focus on groups versus individuals; what factors influence the development of the customary system; and what are the challenges for various stakeholders involved.

But how does all of this work in practice-what was learned so far? There needs to be an enabling environment in place; achieving a shared vision and consensus between stakeholders; provision of legal backing for defining roles and responsibilities and a CBO with strong leadership, ownership and capacity.

Halfway though the day the land pathway opened its doors to Ariel Halpern of PROCASUR who completed his Odyssey leaving Chile last Saturday arriving today at the Sharefair at ILRI in Addis. For sure he had not lost his energy to stimulate us with his personal reflections and thoughts. He took us through what is known as the learning route –a tool developed and successfully delivered to support small farmers, women and youth in about 23 countries by PROCASUR.

Learning Routes has proven to be a flexile tool adapting it’s use to a diversity of topics(e.g.local government, land, gender, culture assets, rural business, rural ICTs, rural youth) and a wide range of people and countries specificity. Ariel defined the learning route fundamentals to be:

  • Recognize that in rural areas it is possible to find successful solutions to existing and common problems which can be adapted and multiplied in other context; and
  • Use a learning strategy that enables participants to acquire direct knowledge and arouse their curiosity and interest in learning.
Mino Hardi from Madagascar, who participated in the learning route on Women and Land rights, said that she started the learning route with a lot of ideas about what to do. The powerful experience for her was to visit communities and see how people had achieved putting similar ideas she had into practice –this gave an enormous push to her motivation to pursue her ideas once she returned form this learning route to Madagascar.

At this deep hour into the day, maps of Africa were pulled out! Participants were asked to map out the challenges they face in their countries, what they have to learn and what experiences/practices they can share. Enough for now, but more to follow tomorrow from this committed lot of practitioners!!!

[1] Recognizing, formalizing and supporting customary land tenure in multi-use landscapes- Scoping paper (work in progress) by Fiona Flintan for the International Land Coalition.