NEW HANDBOOK ON COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT FOR LAND DEALS IN SOUTH SUDAN
A ‘good practice’ guide to negotiating lease agreements with landowning communities in South Sudan
Juba, April 28, 2012 (SSNA) — A new Handbook on Community Engagement, published by the South Sudan Law Society (SSLS), for the first time provides communities, companies, and government institutions involved with land deals in South Sudan with practical, step-by-step instructions on how to invest responsibly in the world’s newest nation.
Since the signing of the peace deal in 2005, land-based investments have surged in South Sudan. Commercial farms, timber plantations, biofuel project, carbon credit schemes, and wildlife parks are being constructed across the ten states. Major expansions are also expected in the oil, gas, and mining sectors.
In theory, this influx of capital could provide important benefits for vulnerable populations South Sudan, but in practice, land-based investments show serious shortcomings in terms of a lack of community participation and one-sided deals that strongly favor the investor.
“South Sudan has its share of cowboy investors,” said David K. Deng, research director for the SSLS. “But sometimes lop-sided deals are a result of uninformed companies and disorganized communities, not greedy land grabbers.”
The handbook provides step-by-step instructions for a variety of community engagement processes, ranging from community consultations and participatory impact assessments to grievance mechanisms and community financial management. A companion document, Community Engagement Fundamentals, provides a summary of the main points and is translated into English / Arabic to maximize its reach.
A theme running throughout the two documents is that land is communally owned in South Sudan and investors are legally obligated to negotiate directly with communities when seeking to access community lands.
“The South Sudan Law Society’s Handbook on Community Engagement is most timely and unique,” said Dr. Jok Madut Jok, Professor of African Studies at Loyola Marymount University in the United States. “Its importance at this stage in the history of the new Republic of South Sudan cannot be overstated.”
Notes to editors:
The South Sudan Law Society (SSLS) is a civil society organization based in Juba, South Sudan. Its mission is to strive for justice in society and respect for human rights and rule of law in South Sudan.