Mozambique government should include rural communities when they plan for land
A Mozambican study reports that sustainable land-use plans should involve detailed maps and should include all stakeholders, especially rural communities.
Governments draw maps or diagrams to help them plan for how land will be used in the future. The approach is used in both rural and urban areas and is especially important for large undeveloped areas destined for major development.
In this work, the researchers studied how planning for land-use using maps can help a country like Mozambique, which has large pieces of undeveloped land that investors are interested in. They interviewed land planners working for both government and private sectors. They also reviewed land-use planning publications and policy documents.
The researchers reported that in Mozambique, land management was done by the central government, and excluded traditional approaches.
They mentioned challenges such as lack of productive land and increasing large plantations.
They said the challenges caused high competition for land, increased poverty, and land degradation, specifically for small scale farmers. This then led to poor agricultural output.
Mozambique did not have a clear land-use plan, however. The country only had short term (5-year) plans, which made it difficult to plan for rural areas where there was much land available. The researchers said the government did not recognise rural communities, most of whom had not registered their land. For the government to make good land-use planning maps, they needed to address all challenges.
Their study also revealed that both government and private officials were aware that planners mostly do not consult local communities.
They said that if the government could plan land properly, it could reduce poverty and land degradation. They also said all local people needed to work together to achieve the same goals.
The researchers recommended future studies that would consider traditional ways of land management and planning.
Strategic spatial planning (SSP) represents a consolidated long-term governance practice across developed and developing countries. It articulates sectoral policies, and it involves vision making and an array of stakeholders regarding land use and development issues around urban and rural territories. Land-use frontiers are territories with abundant land for agriculture and forestry, availability of natural resources relative to labor or capital, and rapid land-use change, often driven by large-scale investments and capitalized actors producing commodities for distal markets. Among various reasons, one of the objectives of SSP processes is to articulate a more coherent and future-oriented spatial logic for sustainable land-use patterns, resource protection and investments. SSP may thus constitute a useful approach to address some of the challenges posed to the governance of land-use frontiers, thus far, its potential contribution in land-use frontiers lacks an explicitly exploration. Here, we examine how SSP can play a role in governing land-use frontiers, through a case-study analysis of Mozambique as an emerging investment frontier. We gathered empirical evidence by interviewing experts involved in resource management, planning and strategizing territorial development in the country, complemented by a content analysis of literature and policy documents. We show that emerging land-use frontiers face several challenges, such as transnational land deals and intensification of commercial plantations. Interview data show that Mozambique lacks a strategic territorial vision, and the short-termism of political cycles hinders long-term territorial development, primarily in rural areas with plentiful land. Our analysis shows that SSP processes could contribute to address both global and country-specific challenges such as poverty traps and land degradation spirals, if various local and distant actors join forces and marry interests. We conclude by presenting a systematic framework explaining how SSP could play a role in governing emerging land-use frontiers for sustainable pathways.
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