LandNet pledges continued community engagement on land related laws

LandNet Malawi Head of Programmes, Tawonga Chihana has assured that the local non–governmental organization would continue with its efforts of sensitizing communities on different land laws for an effective management and administration of the same.

Senior Chief Jalasi making his address during the voluntary guidelines meeting organised by LandNet Malawi in Mangochi. Pic Arnold Namanja (MANA)

Senior Chief Jalasi making his address during the voluntary guidelines meeting organised by LandNet Malawi in Mangochi. Pic Arnold Namanja (MANA)

She made the pledge on Saturday at the end of training for civil society organizations (CSOs) in Mangochi on voluntary guidelines on governance of land (VGGT), fisheries and forests, responsible agriculture investments and right to food in the district.

The training was supported by Food and Agriculture Organisation and UN Women.

“We will continue to raise awareness on the voluntary guidelines on security of tenure of land, fisheries and forestry. This effort in a way is trying to domesticate the voluntary guidelines in Malawi adopted by government through the ministry of Lands to ensure security of land rights and sustainable use of land,” Chihana said.

The officer said LandNet would complement government on the newly passed and assented to land laws which has transferred the authority of overseeing land from the presidency to chiefs, adding that the organization strives at strengthening legal and institutional frameworks for land governance in Malawi.

She said the voluntary guidelines which were international instruments indicated that there were similarities in land problems as a result there was need to harmonize solutions to such challenges.

Chihana pointed out that there were three main problems related to land in Malawi which included overpopulation, cultural and traditional elements, transparency and accountability in land transactions.

“In 1966 when the first land Act was adopted there were only four million people which is not the case now. Cultural factors also have an effect on land as certain cultures marginalize women in patrilineal family setting while in matrilineal set up men are marginalized.

“That is not all, we have cases where chiefs sell land that they were mandated to sell – so all these issues create a platform for discussing land reforms,” she emphasized.

According to Chihana, LandNet advocates for pro – poor and equitable land and natural resources, policies, legislation and decision making processes that enhance livelihoods and sustainable utilization.

Mangochi District Civil Society Organisations Network Chairperson, Turner Banda said the training on VGGT was an eye opener to most CSOs since records indicate that most institutions dealing with governance issues receive cases bordering on land grabbing and boundaries.

“This training has empowered us to help communities and the general public on land related laws,” said Banda. “I am very optimistic that the induction will go a long way in helping to chart the way forward in terms of how land issues are managed.”

Banda, however, appealed to LandNet to consider equipping the civil society organizations in the district with various pieces of legislation on fisheries and forests, saying it was yet another area of concern.

“It may be out of lack of knowledge that we’ve seen a surge in terms of forest encroachment and how some resorts have been erected – with some right in the lake depriving indigenous citizens from accessing the lake in the process,” he added.

Senior Chief Jalasi said the training on voluntary guidelines on governance of land, forests and fisheries had come at the right time when government was also transferring the responsibility of land administration to locals.

“This exercise will go a long way in safeguarding the management and administration of customary land where people are just encroaching with sheer ignorance,” the chief said.

Jalasi said, in the meantime, as a remedial measure to land degradation and deforestation communities in most parts of the district through village natural resources committees were establishing tree nurseries to replant some of the bare grounds.

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