Tree use rights have been raised as a critical incentive to scaling out landscape restoration with trees in many countries in the Sahel. A question has emerged around who can use trees on farms and if the current policies reward those land managers who regenerate and grow trees on their land. Here we bring together information from cross-learning visits and studies to look at this question in Mali, Niger and Senegal.
Peer to peer learning is an effective approach to policy advocacy as well as behavioural and practice shifts toward meaningful transformation in natural resources management. In the framework of the Regreening Africa programme, the component SHARED (Stakeholder Approach for Risk-Informed and Evidence-Based Decision-Making) of World Agroforestry (ICRAF) co-organised with partners from Oxfam Mali, Sahel Eco, and World Vision Niger a cross-country policy learning visit to Niger from 12-17 September 2022.
The overall objective of this cross-country policy learning visit that gathered 30 stakeholders was to enable Mali and Senegal decision-makers to learn from Niger’s experience in advocacy and policy influencing related to agroforestry, land restoration, rights and procedures for tree uses. Particularly, the objective was to learn from the multi-actor processes that had led to the adoption of the presidential decree regulating the practice and benefit sharing of Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) or Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) in Niger (to read more on this topic click here).
The specific objectives of the visit were to:
- Strengthen dialogue through exchange of experiences between country stakeholders.
- Explore opportunities for policy influence in Mali and Senegal including the relevance of initiating a similar advocacy process as was completed in Niger in favour of land restoration, agroforestry, and the practice of ANR.
- Develop an operational plan for the advocacy process by mapping the expected changes, the key actors to be included, their respective roles, the means required, and an implementation schedule.
Following the presentation of country cases from Niger, Mali and Senegal, thematic and country based group work, and exchanges of experiences between participants, the following key messages, and recommendations were made.
Key messages from the cross-country policy learning visit:
- Higher level political will and commitment was critical for the decree to be made in Niger. In Senegal and Mali, there is a favourable political environment that could support a similar advocacy process in the country.
- Meaningful, and sustainable policy reforms happen when the need for change is expressed from the bottom and meets support from the top.
- Policy reforms in Mali and Senegal should improve the status of ANR and the socio-economic value of the trees for the farmers.
- To be successful, game changing and appealing to policy makers, the advocacy should be built upon robust evidence of gaps in the existing policies and regulations and their implementation.
Key recommendations from the cross-country policy learning visit:
- Initiate an advocacy in Mali and in Senegal for a decree or un arrêté regulating the practice of ANR, it’s governance and benefit sharing schemes. Political opportunity windows exist in both countries.
- Build a movement or network of stakeholders for advocacy for ANR reforms in Mali and Senegal and expand the movement to other countries in the Sahel, such as Burkina Faso, building from a core team of stakeholders and institutions that participated in the learning visit.
- Make a repository and analysis of current ANR related laws and regulations in the countries to inform and guide the interventions.
- Although the ANR decree has been adopted in Niger, there is still a need for a specific guideline or Arrêté to clearly define the application and interpretation of the decree. It is also important to translate the decree in local languages for better accessibility by local communities. These are important as it would avoid possible misinterpretation and ensure that the decree is universally applied across the country following the same guidelines.
You can read the full reports by clicking here for the English report and the French report