REGIONAL Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to promote Alternative Land Tenure Reforms (ALR) in favour of women and youth.
The CSOs include the Network of Peasant Organisations and Producers of West Africa (ROPPA), the Global Convergence of Struggles for Land, Water and Peasant Seeds of West Africa (CGLTE-OA); and the Coalition for the Protection of African Genetic Heritage (COPAGEN).
The CSOs made the call while briefing newsmen at a news conference during the organisation’s three-day international meeting in Abuja attended by delegates from 16 West Africa countries.
The recommendation was jointly signed by the Convener and Host of CGLTE-OA, Mrs Zainab Mohammed, and Mamaduo Goita, the Executive Director, Institute for Research and Promotion of Alternatives in Development, Mali.
The regional groups said that the reforms among others, should also take into action the decentralisation of land management and the creation of local land institutions; as well as the compulsory conflict conciliation procedure.
The CSOs urged ECOWAS countries to be committed to supporting inclusive and participatory land reforms that provide security for communities, based on customs and traditions, without discrimination against groups under pressure, including pastoralists, fishermen, women and young people.
They also called on ECOWAS to set up an inclusive and functional national land tenure observatory in each country, with civil society involved in the advocacy and representatives of local communities including women and young people.
“We recommend that ECOWAS should recognise local conventions for the management of natural resources as well as all legitimate social agreements adopted by community members.
“This includes farmers, herders and fishermen, for better collective and shared use of agrosylvo-pastoral and fisheries land, particularly for women and young people,’’ the CSOs said.
The group also called on ECOWAS to set up or support a multi-actor information, awareness-raising and training system, including consultation frameworks, for better appropriation of land policies and laws as well as there application.
They further called for promotion of exchange of experiences on equitable and progressive customary land rights, particularly between political, administrative and customary authorities in West Africa, considering cross-border land and maritime situations.
“We are also recommending to ECOWAS to create a legislative and regulatory framework for the proper management of land and water in member countries by defining the role and responsibility of state actors and traditional leaderships.
“We also recommend regional land guidelines recognising equitable and progressive customary land rights in line with: the African Union’s Framework and Guidelines on Land Policies in Africa.
“The guidelines should also conform to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other Rural Workers; the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights: among others,’’ the CSOs said.
They said their recommendation would be forwarded to ECOWAS parliament for consideration and implementation.
Speaking earlier, Goita, said that the recommendations were from the research conducted by the CSOS in collaboration with research and academic institutions in the region.
He said the essence was to ensure that land reforms take into consideration issues of security and access to land especially for women and youths.
Goita said that the meeting held in Abuja would help to share the organisations advocacy document with ECOWAS.
He said the meeting would also help to promote awareness to government on the need to promote policies that would improve women and youth access to land in West Africa countries. (NAN)