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Unamid conference addresses land ownership in Darfur

November 21 - 2013 KHARTOUM

The chairperson of the Darfur Regional Authority (DRA), Dr Tijani Sese, has called all Darfuris to shoulder their responsibilities concerning the challenges experienced by the region, in particular regarding the tribal conflicts about registration and ownership of lands.

The DRA chairperson spoke at a conference organised by the Darfur Land Commission and sponsored by Unamid’s Civil Affairs section on 20 November at El Salam Rotana Hotel in Khartoum, on “resolving land issues in Darfur, the impact of land-use on sustainable development and proper planning, and the role of the Darfur Land Commission in relation to managing land and natural resources”.

The conference brought together more than 120 participants including technical experts from ther Sudanese Ministries of Planning, Land, Environment, Agriculture and Animal Resources, representatives of the diplomatic community and donor countries, national experts on land, university lecturers, academics, and representatives from Darfur’s five states, native administration leaders, Government of Sudan and Darfur Regional Authority officials, as well as UN agencies. 

The head of Unamid, Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, noted in his opening remarks the crucial nexus between resource management and peace building. He also maintained that better natural resources management has a direct effect on livelihoods, food and poverty alleviation. 

“Natural resources management and land reform needs to ensure that those who have been traditionally excluded in owning and accessing land are now legally entitled to own, access and inherit land. In this context women, especially widows, need the official recognition of their rights to own, access and inherit land, as often, they are the ones toiling in the land to produce food,” Ibn Chambas said. 

Sese pointed out that the issues of the use and ownership of land represent an important part in the ongoing conflicts in Darfur, stressing that it should not be overlooked by the native administration leaders in the region. In the past, hawakeer (lands traditionally used by a particular clan or tribal group) “had something to do with the right to use land. Yet the issue of hawakeer has become a central and complicated issue in the ongoing conflicts in Darfur, as some individuals who do not own agricultural lands reside there and try to use and own lands by all means”.

At the end of the conference, the participants recommended to review the land ownership regulations, promote awareness of local citizens on the proper use of land, develop a comprehensive natural resource and land use database and look deeper into the root causes of the conflict in Darfur and address them accordingly.

In 1923 Sudan was divided into tribal homelands (diyar, sg dar). Within each dar are a number of hawakeer. Due to the strong relationship between a tribe and its homeland, major tribes were able to use and monopolise the natural resources within their dar and to deny minor tribes claims to rights or ownership.

The Unregistered Lands Act of 1970 entitled the government to use force in safeguarding land and encouraging the accumulation of land by a minority of rich investors (local or foreign), causing the alienation of agro-pastoralists from their traditional homelands and denying any formal legitimacy or juridical status to traditional property rights.

File photo: Land and natural resources conference in Khartoum, 20 November 2013, Mohamed Ibn Chambas (left) and Tijani Sese (Hamid Abdelsalam/Unamid)


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