Nelly Bassily | August 2, 2010
This story looks at land ownership issues in DRC. The customary power of the traditional chiefs allows them to sell farmers’ land without their consent. Yet national laws exist, and state that the government owns all land. With two parallel legal systems, conflicts over land ownership are common. If the national policy of decentralization is widely recognized and proves effective, this situation may change.
These circumstances are even more confusing and tense for refugees returning to reclaim land. Other farmers may have taken over their land. Legal papers may not be recognized or available. This complex situation is difficult for anyone who just wants to make a peaceful living from the land. If farmers cannot prove land ownership, they cannot use land as collateral for loans. In addition women, cannot own land without their husband’s consent.
For a detailed backgrounder on land conflict issues in the Great Lakes region, see:
Here are three Farm Radio Weekly stories that show a successful return to land:
-Fifty years after independence, families finally have land to call their own (FRW #73, July 2009) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/07/13/kenya-fifty-years-after-independence-families-finally-have-land-to-call-their-own-irin/
-Southern Africa: Farm workers become farm owners (FRW# 69, June 2009)
-Namibia: Bushmen return to ancestral lands (FRW# 49, December 2008) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/12/22/2-namibia-bushmen-return-to-ancestral-lands-agence-france-presse/
Land laws and rights to land are a hot topic in many countries. You may be inspired to produce a show investigating this in detail. You could consider various angles:
-Are there peoples in your country who were displaced by former regimes and who are now resettled, or wish to resettle their ancestral lands?
-Are there national laws, policies and procedures to return land to those who have been displaced? If so, are they being implemented? If not, why not?
-If peoples have been resettled, through what process did they obtain the right to return to the land?
-What challenges did these people face after resettlement and how did they overcome them?
-If people have been resettled on farmland, do they have the skills and financial resources to make a living as farmers? Have any retraining programs been put in place? What national or local organizations, governmental agencies, or NGOs are working on this issue?
-Are resettled people discarding traditional land uses in favour of new uses? If so, why?
-If legal proceedings are underway to resolve a land claim, what arguments are being considered?