C么te d’Ivoire: Putting inclusive governance at the heart of rural land tenure

June 23, 2021

Public policies and arrangements managing the use of land in C么te d’Ivoire now need inclusive collaboration between authorities and populations to settle longstanding issues and prevent conflicts concerning land in rural areas, says recommendations from a broad consultative process facilitated by Interpeace and partner Indigo C么te d’Ivoire. These recommendations have come at the end of a 26-month project that worked聽to strengthen sustainable and inclusive governance of the State-led land tenure and conservation process聽in the country. The participation in rural land management project, known by its French acronym PAGEFOR, was concluded during a聽national forum of all stakeholders聽held聽in the main city Abidjan on聽31聽March 2021.

鈥淭he way public policies are implemented can be a source of conflict. Land provides economic opportunities to the population, and is also intimately linked to their history,聽identity,聽and聽social聽status. For this reason, changing the rules governing the exploitation of a forest, displacing people from protected areas or adjusting the borders of a village can聽upset the social order聽and trigger聽resistance,鈥 explained Margaux Pimond, Programme Manager at Interpeace C么te d’Ivoire.

Photo credit: INDIGO

Recent policies implemented to preserve classified forests and to map the demarcation of village territories have caused misunderstandings and tensions in some rural communities in C么te d’Ivoire. Low levels of knowledge about the policies and limited dialogue around the implementation processes have generated聽mistrust聽and聽made聽it聽difficult聽for communities to collaborate, hence creating a聽serious problem for technical agents to access communities and do their work.

鈥淏efore聽the聽[village]聽delimitation process, we thought the State鈥檚 policy was to take away our land and that after the demarcation, we聽would聽no longer have access to our land,鈥聽said Dosso聽Metogba, Youth President of聽Massala-Assolo聽community.

Considering these challenges and their consequences to peace and聽social cohesion,聽Interpeace聽and Indigo聽C么te d’Ivoire聽designed and implemented the PAGEFOR project with the goal to聽improve understanding and ensure that these tensions are managed collaboratively.聽The project received financial support from the European Union and targeted specific areas in the country.

Photo credit: INDIGO

Through this project, our teams聽conducted a聽participatory聽study on the聽obstacles聽to聽the聽peaceful implementation of聽the聽preservation and聽village delimitation processes.聽The results informed the creation of collaboration frameworks聽with community members, local聽authorities,聽and technical聽agents to聽jointly address these challenges through dialogue and cooperation.

Together, members of the collaboration framework聽supported communities and聽all relevant聽stakeholders;聽improving聽their understanding and management聽of the dynamics linked to the preservation of classified forests and protected areas聽in western聽C么te d’Ivoire. They conducted a series of聽information sessions聽on the objectives and聽legal frameworks聽surrounding those processes and facilitated聽dialogue around their concrete implications for local populations.

鈥淲e were聽sensitized聽in the past, but we misunderstood. It was after an activity聽organised聽in聽Barata聽by Indigo that we understood聽[properly]聽and were convinced. We were told what delimitation means, what it聽allows us聽to do and what will happen if聽it does聽not.聽This is what led us to create a framework for collaboration with all members of the society,鈥聽explained the聽Massala-Assolo聽Youth President.

The project also聽empowered聽existing collaboration frameworks and聽local聽peace committees聽in the field of rural development with the capacities they need to聽identify early warning signs, prevent, or mediate any conflicts聽that are linked to this process of preserving the protected areas or delimitation of village borders.

“Through the聽collaboration聽frameworks and the peace committees that we have set up, I can say that in the two villages I haven’t had a dispute for over a year. The communities themselves have mechanisms, they settle the issues and report back to me. If we could put this mechanism in all the villages to manage conflicts, we would breathe, ” said Henri Bl茅 Gu茅d茅 Nahounou, a local administrator in Guiglo.

Through this project,聽Interpeace聽and Indigo聽C么te d’Ivoire聽have strengthened collaboration between the different actors, improved the inclusivity and sustainability management of the issues in contention, and contributed to social cohesion and peace.

Other recommendations from this project include the need to always conduct an initial participatory analysis of the economic, social, and political issues related to conservation and village delimitation in the targeted communities. This process will give community members and local authorities the opportunity to express their concerns and clarify what is doable within the law. The project also proposes that sensitization processes and tools be reviewed and adapted, to promote a shared understanding of the objectives and the legal, institutional and operational framework of policies managing conservation and village border delimitation.

Photo credit: INDIGO

Additionally, it is recommended that context-specific and joint solutions be identified, implemented, and promoted through dialogue. Also, replicate the collaborative frameworks to prevent or manage disputes related to the processes of protecting specific areas and village delimitation. Improving communication between populations and technical agents on the field, as well as the strengthening of communication and coordination mechanisms between political authorities and relevant technical agencies will ensure coherent public action.

Following the success of this project, Interpeace is advocating that the initiative be replicated in other areas across C么te d鈥橧voire where issues linked to land management and village delimitation remain a serious concern. The good practices and recommendations from the PAGEFOR project, if reproduced elsewhere, will contribute to more peaceful, cohesive, and collaborative governance of rural land tenure in the country.

Interpeace is now testing the project鈥檚 successful collaboration framework mechanism in other conflict contexts such as the prevention of political violence in Abidjan, Bouake (center) and聽Bangolo聽(west).

Learn more in links below –

D茅fis et opportunit茅s pour une mise en 艙uvre apais茅e et effective du processus de pr茅servation des for锚ts class茅es et aires prot茅g茅es en C么te d鈥橧voire

D茅fis et opportunit茅s pour une mise en 艙uvre apais茅e et effective du processus de D茅limitation des territoires des villages (DTV) en C么te d鈥橧voire

 

Charte des bonnes pratiques pour une mise en 艙uvre apais茅e et effective des processus de Pr茅servation des aires prot茅g茅es et for锚ts class茅es en C么te d鈥橧voire

 

Charte des bonnes pratiques pour une mise en 艙uvre apais茅e et effective des processus de D茅limitation des Territoires de Villages (DTV) en C么te d鈥橧voire