In Togo, the creation of the NES served to dramatically change the land rights landscape from one in which land rights were almost entirely unrecognised and there was little engagement with government ministries.
Frédéric Komla Djinadja, executive director of ILC member Auto Promotion Rurale pour un Développement Humain Durable (ADHD) and the NES facilitator, explained how the strategy for Togo came about: “Togo’s NES was created when the government acknowledged the need to implement a Land Code, whose aim was to help solve the daily challenges faced by the Togolese people. Issues included the double sale of land, acquisition of administrative reserves, double registration of properties, and the sell-off of rural land, among other things. This coincided with the call for proposals launched by ILC. In 2012 ADHD was the only ILC member in the country, and it seized the opportunity provided by the Coalition to introduce a concept note on the implementation of an NES.”
As has been seen in other countries where an NES has been adopted, the existence of the platform has served to greatly improve the working relationship between government and civil society. As Djinadja explained: “Before the NES was implemented, there was no such thing as a multi-stakeholder platform in Togo. The platforms that did exist were either theme-based or local. With the NES, we were able to gather together different actors working in the field of land rights. For the first time, CSOs are sharing and working towards a common cause – people-centred land governance – with several government ministries. These multi-stakeholder meetings have strengthened mutual trust between different actors, with civil society benefiting most from this situation. The government’s trust in civil society is reflected in the support granted by several technical services to the NES platform as key resource persons.”
Rose Adjati of the Ministry of Urban Planning (Ministère de l’Urbanisme), one of the government ministries involved in the NES, explained the importance of the improved relationship between the government and civil society: “With the commitment from all stakeholders which the NES has enabled, we can make sure that we not only have a very well written Land Code [which was voted into law by the Togolese parliament on 5 June 2018] but one which is also implemented correctly.”
According to Kossigan Tobi of the Ministry of Agriculture, government engagement with the NES has enabled the resolution of a number of complicated issues: “Thanks to the NES, we have been able to lobby our Council of Ministers to adopt the Land Code. The NES has permitted us to have a win-win partnership between government and civil society. It has enabled us to understand the concerns of civil society and to carry these back to the government. One result was that, thanks to the observations of civil society, we have been able to include gender issues in the Land Code. The contribution of civil society has been major in terms of land rights for youth and vulnerable people.”
Togo’s NES platform now includes seven government ministries. Thanks to their joint activities, 2,175 women have gained access to land and more than 20 ministerial gender focal points have been trained on the use of gender-sensitive tools.
NES Togo is linked to ILC Commitment 4.
NES TOGO Achievements
NES Togo has brought together stakeholders to influence:
Thanks to the NES, traditional and community leaders are more sensitive to women’s access to and ownership of land. As a result, 185 women’s associations in the central part of the country have been granted authorisation to use 300 hectares of land for women’s economic empowerment.
The NES contributed to the finalisation of the new Land Code, ensuring that it is people-centred. The platform presented the 10 ILC commitments to the drafting committee within the Ministry of Agriculture, and also commented on the draft bill.
In addition, the NES platform encouraged the government to organise a national land forum, which proposed recommendations for the draft Land Code. Some of its recommendations were taken into consideration and are reflected in the document adopted by parliament.
People-centred land governance in Togo’s Land Code
The NES process in Togo was successful in influencing a number of articles in the country’s new Land Code to reflect the principles of people-centred land governance.
Commitment 3: Diverse Tenure Systems
Articles 628–640 of the Land Code recognise customary tenure of land. They stipulate that, on the basis of a request made by a citizen, and provided there is no objection from other owners, customary land can be registered in a Special Register. The Registration Certificate grants its owner the same rights as those of a land title owner in the event of eviction or a claim for compensation.
Commitment 4: Equal land rights for women
Article 628 specifies that customary land rights can be recognised provided that equal access between women and men is respected. Article 577 gives women equal access to natural resources and in particular to agricultural land. Such emphasis is worth noting in a country with strong patriarchal traditions.
Commitment 9: Effective action against land grabbing
Article 649 frames how decisions should be made concerning large-scale acquisitions of rural and customary land. For areas of 10–20 hectares, authorisation is granted at local level by the mayor, from 20 to 100 hectares by the National Land Agency, from 100 to 500 hectares by the Ministry of Lands, and above 500 hectares by the Council of Ministers.
Articles 333–337 and 359–389 protect citizens against forced evictions by the State. No eviction can take place without prior consultation and consent by land owners, who are entitled to receive fair compensation, including for land under customary tenure. In the event that the compensation is contested by beneficiaries, only courts can decide on the amounts to be paid and can order evictions to go ahead.