Briefing note on “African land rights in the time of the coronavirus: Perspectives from West, East and Southern Africa”
The Covid 19 pandemic has rapidly expanded from a public health to a food and livelihood crisis, exposing the vulnerability of millions of rural people who have limited access to and insecure tenure of land and other natural resources. At the same time, those who have secure land rights may be buffered from livelihood shocks. Limitations on the functioning of state and non-state institutions and the movement of people and goods are expected to remain in place until after infections have peaked and/or until a vaccine is found and made widely available. Meanwhile, gendered inequalities in land access and rights may be underscored or challenged as households shift short-term strategies, as cash incomes from non-farm work shrink or are cut off, and the work of food provisioning takes centre stage. Among the evident outcomes already are the halting of programmes to secure tenure, institutional support for land rights and conflict management, and the diversion of state and donor resources towards emergency responses. This underscores the importance of resilience and accountability among local institutions—both state and traditional—in land governance. The immediate crisis needs to be better understood if we are to develop better responses now and beyond the pandemic.
This briefing note is based on a webinar that aired on Thursday 28 May 2020 and is available to watch on the PLAAS YouTube channel here.