Partner States (PS) from the East Africa region established a Regional Steering Committee (RSC) at the end of a three-day meeting of the Regional Technical Working Group (TWG) on the Terrestrial Ecosystem on July 28. The RSC will oversee and coordinate the implementation of the AU Declaration on land and provide policy and technical guidance to the PS and East Africa Community (EAC) Secretariat on the overall implementation of the AU land agenda. While endorsing the terms of reference for the RSC, Members at the meeting applauded the milestone as an important step and timely for land policy development, review and implementation, especially as some PS are yet to enact comprehensive land policies. The RSC will support technical working groups that will oversee implementation efforts in the region to address capacities and best practices to enhance land reforms in the region.
The African Land Policy Centre (ALPC), charged with the custodian role on the AU land agenda, provided technical support in setting up the RSC in coordination with the EAC secretariat. Joan Kagwanja, the ALPC Coordinator, also commended the TWG’s commitment to the ECA-EAC partnership and the establishment of a multi-sectoral coordination platform at national and regional levels for the PS to share experience, and information, lesson learned and best practices in land policy formulation and implementation.
Jean Baptiste Havugimana, Director of Productive Sectors (DPS), EAC Secretariat, stressed the need for Partner States to cooperate in implementing the AU land agenda. He shared insights on the progress made in the EAC region on land governance while stressing the importance of operationalizing the regional land platform by the end of 2022 as it is a crucial directive by the 8th Sectoral Council on Environment and Natural Resources Management.
On capacity development, the PS called on the EAC Secretariat and ALPC to build the capacity of the PS on the AU declaration. They also requested the full engagement of existing Centers of Excellence (CoE) in knowledge sharing that forms the basis for policy review and development, especially as the Centers of Excellence have sectoral knowledge. This will ensure mutual learning and understanding of expectations and support their policies’ alignment with the Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa.
Moving forward, the PS agreed to hold the first meeting for the RSC in August to discuss the capacity development road map and the coordination role of the RSC to assume leadership.
Partner States Experts’, drawn from ministries and institutions responsible for EAC affairs, land policies development, land use planning and administration, and environment and natural resources management from Tanzania, Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda and Rwanda, attended the meeting.