Guided by the theme, “The Rule of Law and Land Governance: What Commitments Should the State and Citizens make for a peaceful society?”, the April 14-16 workshop that was spearheaded by the members of the Episcopal Conference of Burkina Faso and Niger (CEBN) in collaboration with Misereor and Caritas France aimed at finding concerted, sustainable and comprehensive solutions to land issues in the West African country.
In the April 16 communiqué, the Catholic Bishops who acknowledge that traditional leaders occupy an important place in the Burkinabé society, including their role in settling land disputes, recommend that “the Government provides traditional chieftainship with a status to preserve their role in peace and social cohesion.”
They also call on traditional leaders who are known to be the guarantors of tradition and customs to “accompany initiatives to improve land governance and preserve peace.”
Further, the Bishops urge faith-based leaders in Burkina Faso “to respect the destination of the land allocated to them.”
While focusing on the need for land conservation, the members of CEBN call for “better protection of the land against mining and other forms of degradation.”
“Considering that the restoration of closed mines takes twice as long as the duration of their operation, considering that mining companies often do not respect their commitments to environmental restoration, considering the low profits from mining compared to environmental degradation,” the Bishops urge the government to “ensure better protection of land, in particular by reviewing the terms of reference of mining companies.”
In their message, the Bishops also note that the country has inefficient “or even non-existence of land management tools.”
As a way forward, they recommend that Burkina Faso’s government “establishes an efficient and transparent land administration through the construction of a computerized land register.”
The country’s leadership also needs to introduce "a real land tax system and the effective implementation of the land information system taking into account the strategic interests of the country, harmonizing and making consistent the various texts in the land sector," the Catholic Bishops further recommend.
Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.
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