…. Evictions now on the Horizon as a result of a new law passed by the Malagasy Parliament
The law (n°2021-016) passed by both Houses of the Parliament and accepted by the High Constitutional Court in June 2021, overturns all the advances made in the Malagasy land reform process of 2005 and 2006. To the surprise of many, a government memo dated 25 February 2022, exposed that the law had been enacted by Parliament, and a new minister for land has recently been appointed to push the law through. Up until now, Madagascar has been regarded as an exemplary nation for land rights because of the access it granted its citizens to land certificates.
People who have occupied their land for decades will no longer be recognised as owners of their land by the new law. It no longer allows for the presumption of ownership: without a certificate and title, farmers can be evicted without compensation.
THE NEW LAW FACILITATES LAND GRABBING, PUTTING AT RISK APPROXIMATELY 5 MILLION HOUSEHOLDS, OR 80% OF THE MALAGASY POPULATION.
The International Land Coalition (ILC),a global alliance working to secure land rights across the world, is calling on the President of the Republic of Madagascar to protect the rights of Malagasy farmers and local communities who are at risk of eviction. For ILC members in Madagascar, it is seen as a disaster for the land rights of the majority of Malagasy people and a huge step backwards. Eric Raparison, Facilitator of the National Land Coalition in Madagascar stated:
“The new law 2021-016 is an instrument of absolute monopoly by the central government in Madagascar for land management which will benefit rich investors. Therefore, it is worse than the colonial law.”
The new law imposes a 15-year development requirement to qualify for a land certificate. As a result, all land developed after 2006 can no longer be secured in this way. The only option for farmers is the title, which is considered too expensive for farmers (about USD 667 compared to USD 11 for a certificate) and its procedures are too complex with services not always available in all the districts of the country).
A deeply rural country, 80% of Malagasy households live from agriculture and 92% of the population lives on less than two dollars a day. Until now, poverty has prevented many families from applying for and obtaining one of these legal documents. The deepening poverty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and successive natural disasters linked to climate change, will not allow them to acquire a title or even a land certificate in the future. Audace Kubwimana, Coordinator for ILC Africa said of the law:
“Any land governance reform should be for and with the people who live on and from land. The new land law in Madagascar can only serve this purpose if revised to reflect the concerns of smallholder poor families and communities.
Note: Open letter from International Land Coalition President to President Andry Nirina Rajoelina of Madagascar