Legal and social accountability tools in agricultural investments in West Africa

Project
Archived
2013-2016

In recent years, a wave of large-scale acquisitions of farmland for plantation agriculture has taken place in Africa, Asia and Latin America, fuelled by changing agricultural commodity prices, expectations of rising land values and public policies to promote long-term food and energy security. Developing tools to improve accountability is critical in ensuring that investment processes respond to local needs and aspirations.

Farmers tend crops in a field

Isaka and Mary, subsistence farmers in Southern Ghana. Smallholders need support to help increase their involvement in decisions about land ownership and investment (Photo: BBC World Service via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

This three-year collaborative research project aimed to improve accountability in the governance of land and investment in Ghana, Cameroon and Senegal.

Like in many other parts of Africa, large-scale land acquisitions have been a growing trend in these three countries. Large amounts of lands have already been allocated to private investors and, in several instances, land acquisition processes have been accompanied by conflict.

There is a need to develop practical tools that can improve accountability to ensure that investment processes respond to local needs and aspirations.

Led by Dakar-based organisation IED Afrique, the project carried out participatory assessments of the constraints and opportunities presented by the legal frameworks regulating agricultural investments. Focusing on selected sites in Cameroon, Ghana and Senegal, the project also developed tools to improve downward accountability in agricultural investment processes.

The project aimed to promote more active community engagement in advocacy activities to increase local control over the governance of land and investment and changes in national laws to align them with the FAO Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Forests and Fisheries.

It also aimed to promote a regional community of practice on ways to improve accountability in investment processes and found, despite a variety of approaches, some common themes between the three countries, including: an emphasis on strengthening
accountability between authorities and their constituencies; interventions that sought to equip communities to identify problems and pursue their own solutions; and not just a focus on technical tools but approaches to embed the action in local institutions.

Publications

Improving accountability in agricultural investments: reflections from legal empowerment initiatives in West Africa, Thierry Berger, Lorenzo Cotula, Adrian Di Giovanni, Mamadou Fall, Mark Kakraba-​Ampeh, Samuel Nguiffo, Téodyl Nkuintchua, Eric Yeboah (2017), IIED Report

Land investments, accountability and the law: lessons from West Africa, Lorenzo Cotula and Giedre Jokubauskaite (2016) IIED, Land, Investment and Rights series | en français

Land investments, accountability and the law: lessons from Cameroon, Pierre-Etienne Kenfack, Samuel Nguiffo and Téodyl Nkuintchua (2016) IIED, Land, Investment and Rights series | en français

Land investments, accountability and the law: lessons from Ghana, Eric Yeboah and Mark Kakraba-Ampeh (2016) IIED, Land, Investment and Rights series | en français

Land investments, accountability and the law: lessons from Senegal, Mamadou Fall and Moustapha Ngaido (2016) IIED, Land, Investment and Rights series | en français

Accountability in Africa's land rush: what role for legal empowerment?, Emily Polack, Lorenzo Cotula and Muriel Côte (2013) IIED and IDRC, Land, Investment and Rights series | en français