Land Reform Policies in Belgian Official Development Assistance

01 September 2009

For the most part of its history, the Belgian Official Development Assistance (ODA) focused on narrow agricultural productivity issues. With the slow but steady insertion of Belgian ODA into the international development community’s priorities, instruments and methods, Belgium started to focus on broader rural development.

In the 1980s, little attention was paid to the effects of redistributive land reform. Belgian ODA to the agricultural sector, along with international trends, dwindled at the end of the 1990s. The publication of the Belgian ODA’s Strategy Note on Agriculture and Food Security in 2002 mentioned the importance of access to land but fell short of providing practical guidelines on how such a strategy can be carried out in reality. Special programmes, multilateral funding and NGO co-funding of the Belgian ODA have also somewhat neglected the land issue, but some interesting experiences and pressure from partner organisations show some potential for prioritising land policies.