April 17, 2017 - December 31, 2017
HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation Mali
In 2017, the Mali Minister of State Lands and Land Affairs launched a property and land policy reform process parallel to the ongoing agricultural land reform process. Unfortunately, when it was unveiled, the government’s policy adoption process did not include a participatory process of consultation with local communities or robust analysis ensuring respect for community land rights. HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation Mali and the Advocacy Network for Securing Agricultural Land Rights (RP SéFA) identified a prime opportunity to engage in the creation of this new policy; at the same time, they saw a significant risk to communities’ customary rights if the policy was written and adopted without local communities’ input.
Knowing that the stakes were high, HELVETAS Mali and RP SéFA conducted an analysis of the proposed property and land reform policy, and led a nationwide effort to consult communities about the new policy, garner their feedback, and, lastly, to work for the inclusion of their feedback in the land reform process and eventual policy. They held workshops in five different regions in Mali, gathered the insights and recommendations of those who participated, and synthesized the recommendations and concerns into a Memorandum. The Memorandum highlighted the increasing prevalence of land speculation, land grabs by big business and Malian elites; moreover, it recognized that, without a pro-community national land policy, there his high risk of conflict over land rights. Furthermore, it advanced the argument that securing customary land rights for local communities through the new land policy would bolster the goals of the 2015 Mali Peace Agreement by promoting stability related to land and natural resource rights.
When the Memorandum was finalized, HELVETAS-Mali and RP-SéFA facilitated a national-level workshop to highlight the results of the regional consultations. Furthermore, they conducted nationwide advocacy around the Memorandum, targeting politicians, civil society, and the media in the Fall of 2017. Each regional consultation had been covered by local TV, and this added momentum to the overall advocacy and coverage around the property and land policy. Following the final workshop in October 2017, HELVETAS-Mali and RP-SéFA sent the Memorandum to the Minister of State Lands and Land Affairs. They were notified that the Ministry is interested the findings of their consultations. Unfortunately, with the change of government in Mali on December 31, 2017, the Ministry of State Lands and Land Affairs was abolished, and these responsibilities have been transferred to the Ministry of Finance. This means that the reform process is ongoing, however, the National Land Policy adoption process is stalled.
Despite the current delay, by seizing this unique opportunity to contribute to the creation of a new policy, HELVETAS-Mali and RP-SéFA have laid the groundwork for future advocacy when the discussion resurfaces.
Download the project’s resulting memorandum, “Memorandum from civil society and local communities on the National Property and Land Policy in Mali,” here.
For more information, see the following news articles in French: