Illovo Sugar Africa Collaborates with international land rights NGO and the UK’s DFID To Launch LandAssess Tool

New risk assessment and management software assists with land rights due diligence and monitoring for agricultural projects.

Illovo Sugar Africa has collaborated with Landesa and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) in order to help the Group to implement its land rights policies and commitments. The joint project culminated in, among other things, the creation of Landesa’s new LandAssess Tool using Illovo’s operations in Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania as the backdrop for the tool’s development and ultimate testing. Landesa, a land rights NGO that works with governments, civil society, and businesses to develop pro-poor and gendersensitive laws, policies, and programmes to strengthen land rights for rural farming communities, is a key partner to the Illovo Group in its African land rights journey, as is DFID who funded the project.

While many companies make commitments to better recognise and respect land rights throughout their supply chains, some still struggle with how to implement those commitments. The LandAssess Tool guides companies through a series of questions to measure whether they have carried out specific actions that demonstrate compliance with best practices for responsible land-based investment. The Tool uses a set of checklists to assess the company’s performance, such as policy and capacity assessment; legal, administrative and institutional review; impact assessments; consultation and engagement; contracting and agreements; grievances and feedback; encroachment and land-use change.

Landesa developed the LandAssess Tool – a risk assessment and management instrument - to help companies conduct land rights due diligence and monitoring specifically for agricultural projects. While the tool currently focuses on agricultural issues, it can also provide important guidance to other sectors as well.

Scott Schang, Sr. Director of Corporate Engagement at Landesa adds, “The LandAssess pilots at Illovo’s operations in Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania provided us with critical feedback from employees and civil society organisations to help us ensure the Tool not only meets businesses’ needs for a practical tool that allows them to manage the implementation of land rights commitments over time, but does so without sacrificing the quality of the content.”

Illovo staff in Tanzania are already using the LandAssess Tool to help manage their implementation of the company’s Group Guidelines on Land and Land Rights. Illovo’s other countries of operation expect to be deploying the LandAssess Tool in the near future too.

“As an African agricultural and agro-processing business, we believe it is our responsibility to ensure the protection and management of community land rights and landholdings very keenly. When Landesa approached us to partner with them to test their LandAssess Tool, we were thrilled to be able to assist. The Tool thus provides an unparalleled view of our operations from a land rights point of view and incorporates an insight-driven framework on how to prioritise any issues that arise. As an organisation that is committed to creating thriving communities around our businesses, LandAssess has delivered a new, shared-value platform through which to understand, engage and relate to our stakeholders” says Gavin Dalgleish, Group MD, Illovo Sugar Africa.