Rapidly growing demand for natural resources and development has placed unparalleled pressure on Africa’s land and the Indigenous Peoples and local communities who depend on it. Despite this, Africa showed the highest growth of legal recognition of community land rights of any region between 2015–2020 according to the latest edition of Who Owns the World’s Land? The total area owned by Indigenous Peoples and local communities rose by 12 percent that period, and ongoing land reforms in several countries present unprecedented opportunities to secure more rights.

However, the burgeoning carbon market is redefining African governments’ climate agenda—with some governments drafting new carbon-focused legislation and signing carbon deals that pose a potentially significant threat to this progress on tenure rights. In response, our work in Africa continues to focus on mobilizing civil society and Indigenous movements to help rightsholders strategically engage with their governments as well as the private sector, using evidence-based advocacy for progressive legislative reforms, and promoting community-conserved areas as a strategy to reduce emissions and achieve 30×30 goals.

A family from the Maji Moto Group Ranch, Maasai community, Kenya. Photo taken during the filming of RRI’s 2023 documentary, Our life. Our Land, in collaboration with the Video Consortium and Skoll Foundation. | Photo Credit: Anthony Ochieng Onyango.

Here are some of our achievements.

  1. In May 2023, RRI joined hands with the Network of Indigenous and Local Populations for the Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems in Central Africa (REPALEAC), the Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC), and the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities (GATC) to hold the First Forum of Indigenous and Local Community Women in Central Africa and the Congo Basin. We brought Indigenous and local community women leaders from Africa, Asia, and North and South America together with international donors, African ministers, and political actors in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo to strengthen their global solidarity movement for women-led initiatives to address the dual climate and biodiversity crises. The event resulted in a roadmap and declaration that laid the groundwork for a new potential Indigenous-led funding mechanism to channel support directly to the Congo Basin’s women and girls.

"It will be a great and joyous achievement to have my title. I will have the right to do everything on it as the owner. My land is my lifeline."

— Noormeshuki Lekisaika Maasai woman and member of Maji Moto Group Ranch, Narok, Kenya

  1. We co-organized the first-ever Community-led Conservation Congress in Africa in Windhoek, Namibia alongside the newly established Alliance for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities for Conservation in Africa (AICA). The Congress created a space for Indigenous and local community leaders to engage in meaningful dialogue with governments, donors, and NGOs to prioritize people-centered rights-based approaches to conservation. We gathered over 300 participants from 47 countries and set the stage for a new study on community-led conservation in Africa, forthcoming in 2024.
Aissatou Oumarou (left) poses for a photo with fellow participants at the First Forum of Indigenous and Local Community Women in Central Africa and the Congo Basin in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo in May 2023. | Photo Credit: Victoire Douniama.
  1. With support from the Skoll Foundation and the Video Consortium’s Solutions Storytelling Project, we helped produce a documentary showcasing the decades-long land rights struggle of the Maasai community on the Maji Moto group ranch in Kenya. In collaboration with the Indigenous Livelihoods Enhancement Partners (ILEPA), Our Land, Our Life shows how the community is taking back its land from powerful interests and inspiring other communities to follow suit.
  1. To capitalize on commitments made and lessons learned in previous convenings in Ghana (2017), Madagascar (2019), and Togo (2021), we co-hosted the 4th African Land Institutions Network for Community Rights (ALIN) Conference in Arusha, Tanzania in partnership with the Government of Tanzania and the Tanzanian Forest Conservation Group. ALIN is a community of practice for Africa’s national land institutions and ministries to share their experiences and progress in advancing community land rights. The conference’s participants called upon governments to scale up financial and technical support to their land institutions to help them implement more progressive land policy reforms and secure communities’ land rights. Learn more.

"Land policy reform and helping communities determine land use is necessary because land population is increasing along with demand for agriculture. Conservation must be a long-term vision."

— Charles Mecshack Tanzania Forest Conservation Group at the 4th African Land Institutions Network for Community Rights (ALIN) Conference in Arusha, Tanzania

  1. For more than a decade, South Sudan has been developing a National Land Policy (NLP) to ensure the implementation of the Land Act of 2009. To capitalize on a critical window of opportunity in 2023 when a draft of the policy was due to be sent to parliament, the South Sudan Land Alliance (SSuLA), with funding from RRI’s Strategic Response Mechanism, launched an awareness-raising campaign to ensure that the draft policy’s progressive provisions were understood and achieved consensus. They built strong relationships with and trained over 250 land administrators from the South Sudan Land Commission and led three media campaigns reaching over 17 million people. Now, the NLP is with the country’s cabinet for review.