LandCam: securing land and resource rights and improving governance in Cameroon

Cameroon is revising its land and natural resource laws. This project supports this effort by piloting approaches to improve resource governance in rural areas and by helping citizens participate in the policy reform process.

Project
February 2017 - December 2021
Contact: 
Amaelle Seigneret
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Researcher (legal tools), Natural Resources

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Natural Resources research group
Collection
Law, economies and justice
A collaborative programme of work on renegotiating the law to promote fairer, more sustainable economies
A water connection to link the Lobé river to Kribi harbour, South Region, Cameroon

A water connection project built to link the Lobé river to the Kribi harbour, South Region, Cameroon (Photo: copyright Thierry Berger)

Large land areas in Cameroon are held under agribusiness and logging concessions. While quality private sector investments can hold out promise for green growth and poverty reduction, the country faces governance challenges, including a legal system in flux, poor legal compliance with existing standards and weak regulatory action. 

In 2008, the government launched a series of reforms in the natural resources sector to update land, forest, mining and environmental laws. But the process has been too sectoral, both between ministries and non-governmental bodies.

Meanwhile, land under customary tenure (some 85% of Cameroon's land) is becoming increasingly insecure. Investors are seeking extensive areas for developing concessions. Mining, forestry and agribusiness concessions overlap with one another and with protected areas and community lands, leading to conflicts. 

A major coordination effort is needed to ensure that the voices of all stakeholders are heard in reform processes, and that all stakeholders are well informed of both challenges to sustainable natural resource management facing rural communities and of good practice in securing rights and improving governance.

LandCam's overarching vision of just land governance 

The LandCam project will last for five years, from February 2017 to December 2021. To date the LandCam project has been working with key stakeholders across Cameroon to improve land and resource governance by testing innovative approaches in rural areas and using the evidence base to propose workable legal reforms. 

Our goal is to create new spaces for more informed, effective and inclusive dialogue and analysis, engaging the public and media, as well as civil society platforms. We have been tracking, and will continue to monitor, changes on the ground, legal reforms, and share lessons nationally and internationally.

Since 2018, LandCam has been focusing its efforts at the grassroots level. Working directly with local civil society organisations and community groups, LandCam is launching a series of bottom-up interventions to clarify legitimate land tenure rights in three different districts and through a small grants scheme. 

In the three project sites, rural land is still primarily managed according to diverse customs, yet people often lack legal recognition and protection of their land rights. In a context of growing land pressures due to diverse factors including population growth, migration, large-scale infrastructure development and the expansion of agro-industrial plantations, promoting local-level dialogue and dispute resolution around conflicting land claims is more urgent than ever. 

LandCam is collecting, in a participatory manner, important land-use data. This data will directly feed local dialogue processes in order for local stakeholders to take informed decisions about land-use governance and planning. The team is currently fine-tuning the methodology for data collection. This will be published, together with the findings, in LandCam’s annual Land Governance Tracking report. 

Objectives

  • To strengthen capacity and pilot approaches in selected sites that enable stakeholder voices to be heard and rights to be secured 
  • To create spaces for more informed, effective and inclusive dialogue on designing and implementing reforms, and
  • To track land and natural resource governance, including legal reforms, and share lessons nationally and internationally.

What is IIED doing?

IIED is ensuring overall project coordination, working closely with partners in Cameroon and internationally. We are also providing technical support, and are documenting and sharing experience, and overseeing evaluation.