3 questions to... Marie-Odile NKOUE, legal advisor at REPAR

Marie-Odile NKOUE, legal advisor at REPAR

Can you introduce yourself and your organisation?
I am Marie-Odile Nkoue, a legal adviser and monitoring and evaluation officer at the Network of Parliamentarians for the Sustainable Management of Central African Forest Ecosystems (REPAR), which is made up of ten countries in the region since its inception in 2001.  REPAR-Cameroon brings together Members of Parliament from both chambers (National Assembly and Senate) who are eager to be involved in the development and implementation of legislation and policies on forestry, the environment and any other topic related to sustainable development at the national level.

What does REPAR hope to achieve in 2019 with respect to land?
REPAR has been involved for several years in advocacy for land reform through a dedicated working group. This year, we hope that the process of land law reform initiated by the government will make real progress. Based on proposals we collected from the various stakeholders, we sent an advocacy document to the administration. Our job now is to check that these proposals are actually taken into account in the preliminary draft law. We also hope to speed up and advance this reform so that we can at least reach a roadmap for its finalisation.

What provision would you really like to see included in the new land legislation in Cameroon? 
There are two provisions that I would really like to see in this new law. The first is one that limits the land surface that can be granted to a family. In my opinion, the major problem I observe today in land management in Cameroon is the grabbing, not just by businesses but also and especially by rich families, who buy land in the name of their children and grandchildren, sometimes before they are even born. This is at the expense of less wealthy families, who no longer have any land available. 
The second would be to introduce a fiscal regime that requires landowners to pay taxes on their unused land, because many buy land but do not use it, they keep it for future generations. By asking them to pay taxes on it, it would limit the acquisition of large unused spaces for years and years. As I see it, these two provisions would solve this problem of land grabbing. 

Interview by Jérémy Davis