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ECOWAS to harmonise land policy to boost food sufficiency

Published by Guardian on Fri, 07 Jun 2013

THE Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is set to develop a roadmap to harmonise land policies among member states to ensure a food-sufficient in the region.The ECOWAS Commissioner, Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Marc Atouga, said this at a Validation Workshop on Harmonized Land Framework in the region in Abuja.Atouga was represented by Alain Sy Traore, the Acting Director, Agriculture and Rural Development.The commission in 2010 inaugurated a task force to work on the harmonization of land policies in the region with the aim of attaining enhanced food security, poverty alleviation and regional integration.The task force, in 2011, recommended a comprehensive study to review regional land policies, legislation and programmes to enable a common land policy framework funded by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).The commissioner said that the meeting was an opportunity for the member states to ``validate the study report, share best practices and agree on a roadmap for adoption and implementation'.'Land is very central to all aspects of human development and its use and management is complex and it is this context that land reforms is a continuous and slow process in many parts of the world.'Land is not just considered in economic terms but also has a lot of social, political and cultural relevance to humanity.'For West Africa to be transformed to a food sufficient region over a short to medium term period, there is need for harmonized land policies, legislation and programmes,' he said.He said the harmonization would ensure land resources are equitably and sustainably managed.Land Expert, Secretariat of the Land Policy Initiative, UNECA, Hubert Ouedraogo, said that there were challenges ahead in the harmonization of land policies in the region.Ouedraogo said the move by ECOWAS to develop a roadmap was in line with the African Union (AU)-led Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa.He said the framework was a tool to inform land development and implementation processes at national and regional levels.'That is the reason AU Declaration on land issues and challenges in Africa calls on regional economic communities to convene periodic regional platforms.'The Declaration invites the regional economic communities to appropriately address land policy related issues within their respective agricultural common policy framework'This will facilitate experience sharing and dissemination of best practices in land policy formulation, implementation and monitoring based on member states experiences,' he said.Ouedraogo lauded the efforts of the commission in 'taking the leadership' of implementing the process of the AU Declaration on land in collaboration with West African regional institutions.The ECOWAS Consultant on land Policy and Administration, Wordsworth Lardi, said the meeting would enable member states to maximise ways to implement the AU Declaration as a region.He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the meeting would review efforts made by member countries in the areas of land policy development.'Even though land issues are local issues, we recognise that we still have a lot of these issues that are cross-cutting and the approaches to solving them may be different.'It became necessary for us in the West African region to look at how best to implement the AU Declaration as a region and we need to know what is happening in other countries.'We are looking at experiences of other countries so that we do not repeat those mistakes that have been made, and share best practices.
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