Ituri: Involving land administration to prevent conflicts between communities
July 5, 2023
“We are all land; it’s better if the land feeds us and unites us…”. Christian Vangazi, Interpeace programme officer
Effective land administration plays a crucial role in preventing conflicts between communities. Properly managing land resources is instrumental in reducing disputes related to land ownership, use, and access. In the Mambasa territory of the Ituri province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), tensions regarding land frequently escalate into violent conflicts. These conflicts are often attributed to the absence of clear policies and regulations governing land administration, as well as the land registry division’s inability to effectively resolve disputes.
Interpeace launched a series of consultations and coaching sessions focused on resolving land disputes in order to prevent conflicts and foster community harmony. These training sessions were created for provincial officials and local stakeholders involved in land administration in the Ituri region. This approach is being implemented as part of the “Support to Mediation for Resilience and Peace in Ituri and the Grand North-Kivu” project funded by the European Union. The project is led by a mediation consortium consisting of Interpeace, the Pole Institute, Action for Peace and Concord, and the Centre for International Cooperation at New York University.
Through this project, Interpeace aims to mobilise all members of the land administration in resolving land disputes to restore peace and peaceful coexistence between communities. “I call on you to lend us a hand in what we are doing so that we can uproot all conflicts and misunderstandings that Mambasa is facing. We are all land, and we will return to the land,” said Christian Vangazi, programme manager at Interpeace.
In late February, the consortium organised a technical support workshop for thirty local actors to address and resolve land disputes in the Mambasa territory. The two-day event brought together community leaders and other participants to discuss the intricacies of land law and the identification of disputes. The workshop culminated in the development of an action plan to mediate future disputes. In addition to the practical aspects of dispute resolution, the workshop also provided an overview of basic agricultural law and a brief introduction to the National Land Reform Commission (CONAREF). This information will prove invaluable to participants as they navigate the complex legal landscape of land disputes.
During the course of the workshop, the participants openly acknowledged that they had gained new insights and knowledge related to the land sector. One person expressed gratitude, saying, “We congratulate Interpeace for this capacity-building initiative. I am now informed of the land acquisition procedure and the history of land legislation. Thank you very much for these reminders.”
The Deputy Military Administrator of the Mambasa territory encouraged participants not only to act as role models in conveying peace messages but also to popularise the legal framework established by the legislator. “We must be role models in conducting actions on the ground and be guided by the spirit of the law since we act on behalf of the Congolese State,” stated the Administrator.
Participants expressed satisfaction with the capacity-building session, as it helped them distinguish between land administration and territorial planning services. They also admitted that they previously did not know who did what in land affairs.
Consultations with actors in Ituri province have been carried out since May 2022 to identify organizations working in the field of peacebuilding.