Land and Agroecology



Without secure access to land and natural resources, there can be no agroecology. The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) formed a Land Working Group in 2014 initially to challenge land grabbing and more recently to also address regeneration of degraded lands and sustainable land use management. AFSA published a continental study on land policies and guidelines in 2017, which has reinforced knowledge on the issues and identified advocacy entry points.


In the last decade or so a new debate has arisen on access, control and ownership of Africa’s natural resources. Land has taken centre stage as several players both foreign and local, public and private are taking control of vast stretches of fertile land in Africa. Industrial agriculture, extractive industries and large scale infrastructure projects combine with population pressure on land to threaten communities, indigenous peoples and biodiversity.

International and regional regulatory frameworks have been developed to provide guiding principles on acquisition, ownership, control and use of land, but these progressive guidelines are rarely reflected in national law, and hardly ever put into practice. The dynamics at the national level are further entangled in the various land tenure systems within Africa, where land is mainly customarily owned and communally used. Little consideration is given to the many uses of land by African communities. There is a wide information gap in most considerations and analysis in justifying large scale acquisition of land in Africa.

Traditional land management governance structures are being bypassed, and there are limited opportunities for communities to feed into the legislative and policy processes. The challenge therefore is in defining the nexus between these mechanisms, and how the frameworks adopted at regional and international level are translated into people centred policies and practices at national level that affect communities and people’s lives and livelihoods. Some communities have come up with their own mechanisms to sustainably use and manage their land but these are rarely documented, shared and popularised. AFSA aims to contribute by amplifying community voices, reinforcing sustainable land use and management systems built on traditional knowledge and agroecological principles.


Rural communities have a voice on land rights and a right to access methods of agroecological intensification required for sustainable land use.


  1. Community land use and management systems that contribute to food sovereignty and support AFSA’s advocacy work are documented and used by various actors
  2. Communities’ and AFSA members’ knowledge and skills are strengthened to successfully promote sustainable land use and management systems for food sovereignty
  3. National, regional and international land mechanisms and frameworks are influenced to recognise and integrate community rights on land use, management and ownership.


  1. Strengthened community voices and enhanced resilience against land grabbing.
  2. Enhanced members’ capacity to effectively engage in the global land debate.
  3. Community rights on land use, management and ownership emerged in national, regional and international debates
  4. Communities are enabled to ensure the long term sustainable land use by applying appropriate agroecology knowledge and skills that build on their local knowledge.

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