Improving accountability in agricultural investments: Reflections from legal empowerment initiatives in West Africa
This report (PDF) from IIED focuses on the role of legal empowerment and grass root action to change the way investments in natural resources are happening and to protect rights and the environment to ensure more sustainability. A recent surge in agribusiness plantation deals has increased pressures on land in many low- and middle-income countries. Rural people have mobilized to protect their rights, seek better terms or oppose the deals altogether. Since 2014, an initiative in Cameroon, Ghana and Senegal has worked to help people harness the law in order to have greater control over decisions that affect them – a process commonly referred to as legal empowerment. In the three countries, the initiative developed diverse approaches, responding to different local contexts and theories of change. Each approach embodied a distinctive combination of grassroots action, public advocacy and private sector engagement – through supporting junior lawyers in Cameroon, grassroots committees in Ghana and locally negotiated land charters in Senegal. This report summarizes insights from first-hand experiences with helping rural people exercise their rights and, ultimately, claim their own future.