June 14, 2013

Land Governance Partnership between the United States Government and the Government of Burkina Faso

The United States will partner with Burkina Faso under the G-8 Transparency Initiative to further improve land governance. The United States’ Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact with Burkina Faso includes a Rural Land Governance Project that is already implementing many elements of the New Alliance Country Cooperation Framework and the Voluntary Guidelines for the Responsible Governance of the Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security. The partnership will build on this progress and promote gender equity and improvement of transparency in land transactions taking note of the African Union Declaration on Land Issues and Challenges, and the Nairobi Action Plan on Large Scale Land-Based Investments. The partnership will support the formation of a land observatory to encourage shared learning, program coordination, and identification of needs for further improvements in policy, regulations and practical tools.

1. Overview

The majority of the population of Burkina Faso lives in rural areas and is dependent upon access to land for food and income-generating activities. In response to intensifying competition for land and natural resources and a lack of access to land administration services in rural areas, the Government of Burkina Faso undertook a multi-year stakeholder consultation process in order to develop a new land policy framework. Under this framework, a new Rural Land Tenure Law, developed with support from the United States Government through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact’s Rural Land Governance Project ($59 million), was adopted in 2009. This law recognizes customary tenure practices, allows formal registration of a range of land rights, and decentralizes authority over land administration. Significant progress is being made to implement the Rural Land Tenure Law; yet much remains to be done. To this end, Burkina Faso’s New Alliance Country Cooperation Framework (NACCF) includes a policy commitment to Facilitating Access to Land and its Secure Productive Use (Objective 4), and outlines activities that build on objectives of the Rural Land Governance Project.

The MCC Compact has supported: a) establishing and operationalizing rural land administration agents in 47 of the country’s 302 rural communes (municipalities), to resolve land disputes and record land rights within these communes; b) advancing the legal and regulatory framework through adoption of two major laws – the 2009 Rural Land Tenure Law, and the 2012 revision to the Agriculture and Land Reform Law; c) the delivery of land holding certificates to households in the 47 communes; d) improving procedures for land allocation in irrigated zones; and e) supporting key land ministries to identify institutional reform and capacity development needs. These activities have benefitted from broad stakeholder engagement and advanced land tenure reform. They have also led other donors such as the World Bank (WB), European Union (EU), and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) to consider programs to improve land governance in other communes throughout the country.

2. Objectives

As part of the 2013 G-8 Transparency Initiative, the United States will partner with Burkina Faso, in coordination with G-8, and multilateral and regional organizations to strengthen efforts to improve land governance and to increase transparency in land transactions, consistent with the Voluntary Guidelines for the Responsible Governance of the Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VG), the Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa, and the NACCF.

The partners will work together to:

  • reduce land conflicts in rural areas, increase the recognition of household rights to land, and enable local land use planning for the equitable allocation and use of natural resources through the MCC Compact; and
  • encourage shared learning, enhanced program coordination, and identification of gaps in policy, regulations and practical tools, with a particular emphasis on gender and transparency in land transactions.
  • The proposed timeframe for the partnership is six years. This includes one year supported principally through the last year of the MCC Compact and an expectation of five additional years, subject to the availability of sufficient resources, which may be secured through collaboration with stakeholders.

The MCC Compact establishes monitoring indicators for land governance and transparency that can be used to measure progress through its last year and beyond. With a goal of contributing to learning, MCC is also supporting independent evaluations that will become available after the Compact ends. Under the land partnership, approaches to benchmarking and tracking progress toward the implementation of Burkina Faso’s land policy, consistent with the NACCF, the VGs and the Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa, may be defined.

Achieving objectives

The partnership will focus on two activities:

A. Establishing and operating a national land observatory: This will be an institution to monitor and support the land reform process through research and facilitating policy assessment and dialogue to identify further legal, regulatory, procedural and operational adjustments. It will also provide a venue for sharing the results, tools developed and lessons learned from the MCC-supported project and others. The national land observatory will encourage sustainability and improved performance of the new rural land institutions and promote adherence to principles outlined in the VGs. The first stage, establishment of the national land observatory by the end date of the MCC Compact in July 2014, will be coordinated by Millennium Challenge Account – Burkina Faso (MCA Burkina Faso), the Burkinabé government entity responsible for implementing the Compact. The establishment of the observatory will be followed by its implementation according to a work plan and available resources. As part of its ongoing activities, the land observatory will promote gender equity and will sensitize citizens and land administration personnel to ensuring the inclusion of both men and women in land tenure reform.

B. Building capacity for tracking and transparency of land transactions: Through the partnership, the Government of Burkina Faso will be encouraged to identify and pilot a cost-effective approach to recording, organizing, and storing documents and information related to land rights and transactions in order to improve the security existing land rights, increase transparency, and improve the efficiency of land administration.

The MCC Rural Land Governance Project includes funding to support, in the first year of the partnership, the establishment of an observatory and to increase attention to gender equity that can be used to launch the partnership. Some indicators used by the MCC to monitor progress on the Rural Land Governance Project could also be used more broadly to monitor targets outlined in the NACCF and developed for this partnership, including: 1) Resolution of land rights conflicts; 2) Number of land holding certificates issued; 3) Extent of confidence in land tenure security; 4) Number of stakeholders trained; and 5) Number of legal and regulatory reforms accomplished.

Government and Partner Consultation

The concept for this partnership has been discussed at the technical and policy levels within the U.S. Government and the Government of Burkina Faso. In addition, the United States has consulted preliminarily with the World Bank, the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the African Union Commission, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Land Policy Initiative) about this partnership and the potential for collaboration. Use of the Land Governance Assessment Framework (a tool developed by the World Bank) has been discussed with the Bank as a possible collaborative effort that could become an early observatory activity. IFAD has indicated its support for the creation of a land observatory and the Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest Africain (UEMOA) also indicated support prior to development of the partnership in conversations with MCA Burkina Faso in the field. Consultations will continue and will expand to others local, regional and global stakeholders that may be willing to collaborate and provide technical and financial resources to further refine and achieve the partnership objectives.