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Promoting Land Rights in Africa: How do NGOs make a difference?

During the last 20 years, many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have diversified from service provision into policy advocacy. They are credited with considerable impact on global processes, but is happening and how can we assess success? This report is based on a study of seven NGOs promoting land reform and land rights in Mozambique and Kenya. It discusses the activities and relationships which NGOs engage in to influence policy and suggests a framework for assessment based on four main areas of impact: strengthened civil society organisations; consultative government procedures and practice; pro-poor changes in policy, regulations and legislation; and direct benefits to and improvements in living conditions of poor groups. The study shows that policies can be reinterpreted or simply ignored when it comes to implementation, however, when local power relations become critical. For NGOs, building the capacity of community groups to take informed action is critical to long-term and sustainable pro-poor policy influence.

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