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

Project
Active
February 2017 to December 2021

Cameroon is revising its land and natural resource laws. This project supports this effort by piloting approaches on the ground and helping citizens participate in the reform process.

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

Large land areas in Cameroon are held under agribusiness and logging concessions. While private sector investments hold out promise for green growth and poverty reduction, the country faces governance challenges, including a legal system in flux and weak regulation. 

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

Meanwhile, land under customary tenure (some 85 per cent 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 conflict. 

A major coordination effort is needed to ensure that the voices of all stakeholders are heard in the reform process, and that all stakeholders are well informed of both the reality on the ground and of good practice in securing rights and improving governance.

Update: LandCam enters a new phase

Over five years, from February 2017 to December 2021, the LandCam project will work with key stakeholders across Cameroon to negotiate rights to land and natural resources through demonstrable good governance and workable reforms of the relevant laws. We will work to create new spaces for more informed, effective and inclusive dialogue and analysis, engaging the public and media, as well as civil society platforms. And we will monitor changes on the ground, track legal reforms, and share lessons nationally and internationally.

From 2018-20, LandCam will focus 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. 

In the three sites, LandCam will also collect 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. Stay tuned for more details.

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 will IIED do?

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.

Publications

Towards fair and effective legislation on compulsory land acquisition in Cameroon, Brendan Schwartz, Lorenzo Cotula, Samuel Nguiffo, Jaff Bamenjo, Sandrine Kouba and Teclaire Same (2017), IIED Briefing | en français

Indigenous peoples' land rights in Cameroon: progress to date and possible futures, Samuel Nguiffo, Victor Amougou Amougou, Brendan Schwartz, Lorenzo Cotula (2017), IIED Briefing | en français

Additional resources

LandCam project website

Donors

European Union

This project was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of IIED, CED and RELUFA, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

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