By Robert Manyara ARUSHA Tanzania (Xinhua)
-- African governments should adopt
progressive legislative and policy frameworks to ensure local
communities accrue benefits from natural resources, experts said
here on Wednesday.
attending a regional workshop, acknowledged that Africa has
immense natural wealth that could be harnessed to address
challenges facing communities like poverty, hunger, malnutrition
and energy deficit.
director of Natural Justice, a South African non-profit group,
said that both customary and civil laws can be used to
facilitate equitable sharing of benefits derived from natural
resources between governments, industry and communities.
customary laws can be used in negotiating and signing agreements
with local communities in regards to how they will benefit from
the natural resources,” Jansen said.
She added that
domesticating the international laws will ensure the interests
of the communities and users of the resources so that the
investors are equitably addressed to avoid conflicts.
The Nagoya Protocol
and Convention on Biological Diversity are among the
international guidelines providing framework on access, use and
sharing of natural resources, including genetic resources and
By ratifying these
international guidelines and unifying them with specific matters
arising from exploitation of natural resources, governments are
spearheading empowerment of locals and development of grassroots
economies, the experts agreed.
cannot enjoy benefits accrued from the genetic and biological
natural resources if their land rights are not safeguarded, said
Indigenous Peoples of Africa Representative to the United
Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Elifuraha Laltaika.
strong attachment to their natural resources and therefore you
cause them devastating poverty when their land rights are
disrupted,” said Elifuraha.
Land Commission chairman Swazuri A. Muhammad said the
international framework has ostensibly averted wanton
exploitation of the natural resources in some African countries,
but lack of awareness among local communities on the existence
of these guidelines has affected how they use their own
“There are many
protocols, conventions and agreements regarding access and
sharing benefits accruing from natural resources, but the local
communities are not adhering to them because of ignorance on
their existence,” Swazuri said.
“We need to
sensitize them. We need to transfer to them knowledge in these
protocols, conventions and agreements,” he said.
“The local people
should be empowered to identify their own natural resources and
be actively involved in developing the related laws and policies
since they are the owners of the resources,” Swazuri said.
executive director of Resource Conflict Institute, emphasized
that sound policies coupled with enforcement of laws is key to
averting resource-based conflicts in the region.