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Addressing inadequate compensation

August 12, 2016

The issue

LSLAs raise a number of concerns regarding compensation, including how land is valued, how affected communities are compensated, and how the risks and benefits resulting from land deals are shared between investors, the state, and those affected.

What research is finding

Research suggests that land valuation and compensation measures are inadequate. In one example from Cameroon, compensation for lands does not take into account uncultivated natural resources that are nonetheless valuable, or consider the symbolic importance of a community’s relationship with the land. In Senegal, local people feel their rights are disregarded and the legal procedures for expropriation and compensation are either “intrinsically unfair or largely ignored”.

While some investors have entered into risk- and benefit-sharing arrangements with communities, the distribution within communities is not always equitable. In Ghana, an office which is constitutionally-mandated to collect and disburse land revenues, including to traditional authorities and local government bodies, has been excluded from most transactions reviewed. Women, who are typically excluded from decision-making processes, tend to suffer displacement with little or no compensation. 

The response

Communities’ land and land use need to be fairly valuated for them to receive equitable compensation and a fair share of benefits and risks in land deals. Researchers in some projects are using “participatory valuation” processes with communities to help them appraise their lands’ value and strengthening procedural protections so they can leverage compensation and benefit sharing.

This is one of five cross-cutting issues that have emerged from early research findings on large-scale land acquisitions in Africa.  Read more about how researchers are working with communities to increase their ability to protect their rights.