LandNet Malawi has grilled government officials in Chikwawa on land issues with a hope that the officers in their respective field of experience will help in safeguarding customary land.
The three days awareness raising workshop for the government officers which took place in the district centered on the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the context of National Food Security (VGGT), Right to Food Framework (RTF) and Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investments and Food Systems (RAI).
The workshop aimed at raising capacity of the government officials to engage and mainstream the use of the VGGT, RTF and RAI in their respective areas of work so that they can influence policy issues and practice at that level.
LandNet Projects Officer, Joseph Gausi said the essence of the meeting was to raise awareness of what is called best practices in land governance which have been recognized and adopted at international level.
Said Gausi: “As LandNet we thought it as important to meet government stakeholders because they are the policy decision makers. They implement government policies and sometimes the decisions they make affect the livelihood of the people.
So, we want them to understand the international practices on how they can mainstream those in their daily scope of work so that in one way or the other they lead to the improvement of tenure at the same time we achieve national food security and right to adequate food for Malawi population.”
He said LandNet organized the workshop in Chikwawa because the district is one of the districts where land issues are rampant adding there have been cases of land grabbing collected and held in Chikwawa.
“And maybe these issues on voluntary guidelines, right to food and principles of responsible investments would one way help them with knowledge and information on how they can address these challenges,” added Gausi.
During the workshop, participants were also informed of the land bill gazette which was discussed and sent back to some committees in the house of parliament for scrutiny in the previous sitting which seeks to empower local authority through the help of district councils as well as the land clerks that will be placed in each traditional authority.
Speaking on behalf of chiefs, Senior Chief, Traditional Authority Ngabu said the workshop was very important because it enlightened them on several issues pertaining to land tenure issues.
“We have noticed so far that there are a lot of issues in the bill and we would have loved if there were a lot of sensitization to the communities on the same but since we were here representing our communities it will be our duty to do so when we get back to our respective areas.
In his remarks at a close of the workshop, LandNet National Coordinator, Emmanuel Mlaka said there were a lot of land disputes in the country and investments were being hindered.
“Apart from that, there is a massive growth of our population. All these situations, the population growth and the required investments for our economic growth in Malawi require land.
If land is not well governed, it will affect development in Malawi and that is why we wanted to impart on them (participants) the knowledge for responsible land governance so that as investors, development programs come to the Shire Valley the staff at district council must be aware on how to manage them,” he said.
Mlaka further stated that it was their expectation to see participants to the meeting to be instrumental especially to those people whose work involved field work on land adding “we are aware of the projects coming to the Shire Valley and we felt these are the people who will be able to guide especially the rural people on what is happening and why it is happening like that way.
“So, the rural people should not fight the investors on the land, on the other hand, investors should not exploit rural people,” he stated.
LandNet Malawi with support from the Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) has conducted similar workshops in the districts of Salima, Dedza, Thyolo, Mzimba and Kasungu.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :