Have you ever thought about decentralizing your multi-actor platform (MAP) on land governance? Or are you already busy within the process of doing so? Yesterday, we had another cross-country call – not only between our Land for Life (LfL) MAP country-teams but also with experience sharing from partners in other countries. We started with presentations from four colleagues on their experiences, successes, challenges, and learnings. Three inputs were given by colleagues from the National Engagement Strategy (NES) supported by the International Land Coalition (ILC). Frederic Djinadja who is working for Association pour la Paix et les Droits de l’Homme (APDH) presented the case of Togo. Senegal was represented by Nicole Chaby and Cameroon was represented by Michelle Sonkoue. Another input was provided by Berns Lebbie facilitating LfL in Sierra Leone.

After a presentation of the status of the decentralization process in the different countries we had an active session of Q&A. It turned out that there is no blueprint for decentralizing national multi-stakeholder platforms on land governance. Structures and contexts differ too much from one setting to another. However, many of the challenges faced by MAP practitioners are the same: How to identify the most suitable entity to lead multi-stakeholder dialogue and collaboration at a decentralized level? How can the participation of relevant actors at a decentralized level be ensured? What kind of processes and agreements can be put in place to ensure regular communication and exchange between the different levels?

“You need to uphold accountability and transparency of decisions and actions at all times during a decentralization process.”

Decentralizing MAPs on land governance to the sub-national level requires a substantial investment in terms of forming and strengthening structures, agreeing on roles and core processes, ensuring accountability and more. The added benefits from such a decentralization are often not easy to pin down and even harder to measure. Further consideration must be paid to questions of how decentralization can be facilitated in a way that keeps structures and processes lean and sustainable, whilst ensuring that it meets the defined purpose: contributing to addressing complex land challenges at a regional and local level, as well as providing for evidence-based and inclusive advocacy at a national level.

Out of the cross-country call, we will develop a learning note. The learning note will be published here, too. So … stay tuned 😉

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