A delegation of 15 members of academia from the Network of Excellence on Land Governance in Africa (NELGA), as well as African national ministries, gathered in Germany in September 2018 for a Study Tour focused on Land Governance. The Tour was co-organized by GIZ and the BVVG in the framework of the GIZ project Strengthening Advisory Capacities for Land Governance in Africa(SLGA). The ADLAND consortium and the Technical University of Munich also played a key role in hosting and leading fruitful activities and discussions during the tour.
By visiting institutions and actors involved in land governance across Germany, participants gained an overview of the processes, instruments and tools for shaping and implementation of coherent land governance policies and practices in Germany.
From visiting land administration institutions on various federal levels, to examining spatial planning through exploring land registry and cadaster systems in Bavaria as well as in Brandenburg;from discussing rural development opportunities and challenges with the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Berlin as well as with the Office for Rural Development in the Rheingau area, to speaking with land reform experts from private organisations such as the BVVG Berlin about state-land management; and from learning about the mechanisms and legal framework behind land valuation in Germany to the use of geo-data infrastructure for land management – participantswere exposed to a rich array of actors and got a very good overview on how landgovernance is designed and governed in Germany.
Germany has a well-tested system of registration of land ownership and land use and a comprehensive institutional setting of public sector entities dealing with numerous land management assignments on the different federal levels. Therefore, it is suitable to serve as a case example to analyze and discuss necessary measures for improving land governance frameworks.
At the end of the Study Tour, the representatives from the five NELGA nodes were asked to reflect on how it equipped them with tools to approach land policy and governance in their home countries.
Moha El-Ayachi, from the Institute of Agronomy and Veterinary Medicine in Morocco, reflected on the key takeaways from experiencing the German land governance structure:
“Seeing how land governance is conducted in Germany has provided us with many good practices on how to manage land, administer land and promote rural development by taking into account the component of land. For me personally, this Study Tour was an opportunity to review many projects and ideas I have in mind. I also learnt so much from my colleagues and will deeply reflect on how to materialise ideas and implement them, and on how to strengthen NELGA on a regional level.”
Charl-Thom Bayer, from Namibia University of Science and Technology, felt that the conversations that were held throughout the tour were greatly aligned with the ones that were happening inside the NELGA nodes:
“From public outreach to informed policy making and formulation, to some more technical discussions we are having about processes when it comes to land administration and the productive use of land…. All these topics allowed for enriching a dialogue which is taking place within our NELGA node and in other nodes. I wouldn’t say that what we saw here in Germany can be copy pasted as solutions in our countries, but I definitely think tackling these topics helps strengthen the discourse, presenting fresh and sometimes challenging perspectives to what you assume is the status quo in your own country or region.”
Also, the study tour served as a platform for the representatives of NELGA-universities to get acquainted with each other’s’ research and teaching activities, to identify possible fields of cooperation and to discuss the current and future development of NELGA.
The coordinators commented on how the Study Tour helped consolidate the NELGA network:
Agnes Mwasumbi, from Ardhi University in Tanzania, spoke about how important she felt these moments of bonding were for NELGA:
“Many things that were previously formally discussed, we were able to discuss informally, like for example new projects we aspire to set up. These interactions not only allow us to think about what we can achieve together, they are what make us feel like we have ownership over the network.”
John Bugri, from Kwimane Nkumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana, told us about his hopes for more of these opportunities in the future:
“We appear to be facing many similar problems when it comes to land governance in African countries and would therefore benefit from meeting even more frequently to come up with solutions together and in the continental domain. In the future we would like to have more opportunities to meet for South-South exchange and dialogue.”
Aside of the technical focus areas, a major aim of the study tour was to discuss to what extent research can and should influence policy making and which tools and procedures exist to facilitate such policy-research linkages. With this in mind, a panel discussion organized in the form of a symposium at the Technical University in Munich (TUM) – part of the ADLAND consortium – centered on the question of “how research results of academia and other research institutions can be actively used to shape evidence-based land policy design”.
The participants representing academia got the chance to present their research focus to a wide range of stakeholders from Germany and Europe dealing with land governance issues. Then presentations centered on land governance using the Land Governance Assessment Framework (LGAF) developed by the World Bank and on large-scale agricultural investments. Subsequent panel discussions dealt with exploring how policy-research-linkages can be formalized and intensified, and more broadly about the interplay between politics and universities and the role of universities as policy advisor and as agents of change.
The participants showed a great interest in discussing land governance and land policy issues as well as the challenges and opportunities they face in their respective home countries. They seized the opportunity not only to discuss future areas of cooperation amongst themselves, but also with various German institutions on technical issues such as cartography and geodesy knowledge sharing. Further, they invited the idea of creating more vocational type training and education opportunities for African students in Germany, through further cooperation with the DAAD, which offers financial means to NELGA for such initiatives. Strengthening South-North exchange is high on the NELGA agenda, since as this successful Study Tour has shown, it contributes greatly to achieving NELGA’s objective of enhancing training and education capacities in the field of land governance, management and policy on the African continent.