The livelihoods of large parts of the world’s population depend directly on access to land. If access is denied, the results are often hunger and underdevelopment. According to UN World Food Programme estimates, half of the 815 million people suffering from hunger in 2017 were members of smallholder families. Many landowners and land users possess only informal or traditional land rights, which are often not sufficiently recognised.
Alongside its economic value, land is accorded high traditional, religious and social value in almost all cultures. However, large-scale investments are placing growing pressure on land as a resource. In the absence of protective measures and transparency, as well as inadequate conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms, such investments often lead to conflict, forced expropriation and displacement. Thus, the pressure on land continues to intensify as it becomes increasingly scarce.
Many countries have committed themselves to good land governance and have signed up to the United Nations’ Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security. Yet, they still face considerable challenges in upholding these commitments. The rural population, especially women and socially marginalised groups, often lack reliable access to land.
In cooperation with policymakers in the partner countries, the project team is working to improve the framework conditions for good land governance. Together with its partners, the project aims to introduce transparent procedures and mechanisms in land administration, thereby improving the population’s situation with respect to land rights. The project focuses on three areas of action:
1. Securing land rights for the rural population through improved procedures
In Peru, the main emphasis is on land titles for the areas of indigenous communities, while in Benin, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Laos and Uganda it is on strengthening individual and collective land and usage rights. Here, the legal security is improved through property titles and long-term leases. The project closely collaborates with related projects who use secure land rights as basis for further activity such as soil conservation and forest rehabilitation.
2. Promoting the participation of civil society in responsible land policy
The project team supports civil society groups that participate in the implementation of new procedures for securing land rights. Civil society actors take on an important role in monitoring conflicts and shaping dialogue processes, and act as service providers.
3. Improving the framework conditions for responsible private agricultural investment
Through a series of awareness-raising and dialogue activities, the project team supports the responsible design of agricultural investments that consider the rights and needs of the local population. In Ethiopia, Uganda and Laos, this field of action is supported and deepened through European Union cofinancing (Responsible Governance of Investment in Land, RGIL).
The ‘Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests’ and the ‘Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment’ of the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security (CFS) guide the project’s actions. The activities in the target regions in Madagascar are being implemented by the ECO-GOPA-Land Resources working group.
- The global project has already been able to strengthen the land rights of over 88,000 small farming households. Of these, 29,000 households have registered their land rights in the name of the woman or together as a couple.
- The project has helped to resolve nearly 3,200 land conflicts.
- More than 35 agricultural investors follow international guidelines and thus contribute to sustainable development.