On February 22, the South Sudan Council of Ministers passed the USAID-assisted draft Land Policy with minimal amendments. The Land Policy will now head to the National Legislative Assembly for review. While much work remains to be done, this event marks a notable step on South Sudan’s path toward developing institutions and policies for effective land governance.
As a newly independent country facing continuing conflict over land and resources, developing a clear, efficient and equitable land policy framework that will reduce conflict and promote peace and economic growth is critical for South Sudan. Lack of clarity and legal protections for land use has affected investment, economic development, and conservation efforts in the country. It has also contributed to local conflict, including disputes over large-scale land acquisitions and grazing rights.
Since 2008, USAID has assisted the Government of South Sudan to develop a draft land policy. USAID’s Sudan Property Rights Program conducted extensive public consultation and research to inform the development of a draft land policy, as well as provided support to build the capacity of the Southern Sudan Land Commission. The draft land policy provides guidance for legislation impacting land tenure – specifically through public, community and private land tenure systems – with the aim of improving the security of citizens’ rights to land under South Sudanese law. The policy serves as a framework to amend existing laws and provides guidance for drafting future legislation. On February 18, 2011, the Sudan Property Rights Program formally handed over the final draft of the Land Policy to the Southern Sudan Land Commission.
While the Sudan Property Rights Program ended in 2011, a follow-on project, the Sudan Rural Land and Governance Project, is currently helping build capacity for land governance institutions that promote property rights, mitigate conflict, and improve tenure security.