A woman and a child walk across a field in Bangladesh with some goats in tow.
The SDC is working to ensure that the poorest population groups in rural areas have fair access to land and other natural resources. © IFAD/G.M.B.Akash

Just as in high-income countries, agricultural land in low- and middle-income countries is in increasingly short supply. Infrastructure, urban expansion and investments in large-scale farms are encroaching on land previously used by smallholders. Broad-based regulations are necessary to ensure fair access to land and other natural resources, especially for poorer population groups in rural areas. The SDC is committed to establishing such regulations at the national, regional and global levels.

The SDC's focus

The SDC works to ensure equitable access to land and other natural resources such as water, especially for poorer population groups in rural areas. As well as being vital to sustain life, they also act as important productive resources for smallholder farmers. Land law determines whether and how the right to use and control land, fisheries and forests can be exercised. Guaranteeing the right to use and own land is key to combating poverty and hunger.

With the aim of reducing poverty and hunger in poorer sections of the population, the SDC supports governments in the development, implementation and oversight of fair and transparent land use policies that recognise all existing rights of use, including individual, collective and customary rights.

At the same time, the SDC encourages the participation of all stakeholders in drawing up such principles and supports local communities and farmers' organisations so that they are able to exercise their land use rights. For the SDC, the inclusion of the private sector in such processes is of high priority.

At the global level, the SDC has participated actively in the creation and implementation of a set of targeted regulations that promote a just tenure and land management policy and establish criteria for responsible investment in agriculture.

Guidelines and principles on the responsible governance of tenure

As a member of the Bureau of the United Nations Committee on World Food Security (CFS), Switzerland was instrumental in developing the current UN Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security in 2012. Over the next two years, Switzerland led negotiations on a set of Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems, intended to complement the Guidelines. In 2014, it brought the process to a successful conclusion with the adoption of the Principles. Together with other states, private sector organisations, civil society and UN agencies, the SDC is actively involved in implementing these Guidelines and Principles. This lays the foundation for securing land use rights for all and enabling investments into better production methods.

The SDC also supports implementation of the African Union (AU) Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa, adopted in 2009, which pledges to ensure equitable access to and the efficient and sustainable use of land. To this end, the SDC works closely with the African Land Policy Centre, which is directly responsible for implementing the AU Framework and Guidelines. The SDC also broadens and strengthens the expertise of the relevant decision-makers and public officials in order to improve the assessment of land-related investment contracts.

Background

Approximately 70% of the more than 800 million chronically undernourished people in low- and middle income countries countries live in rural areas, the majority growing crops or rearing livestock. For them, security of access to land and other natural resources is especially important. Equally important is secure access to land for the rapidly increasing urban population, both for housing and for growing food in small gardens (urban agriculture).

Investments in land can have a major adverse impact on the food security of local communities. The legitimate call for increased investment in agriculture often focuses on the economic dimension, leaving aside social and environmental issues. As a result, such investments often restrict access to land and other natural resources such as water. Moreover, they contribute to reducing biodiversity in agriculture and threaten fragile ecosystems. In many cases, serious human rights violations occur.

Land-related investments are often concluded with no or minimal prior consultation of the affected rural populations. Most large-scale land transactions thus lack transparency and accountability at all levels. At country level, line ministries and parliaments are rarely invited to scrutinise investment projects involving large-scale land acquisitions and leases. When decision- and policymakers are involved, they often lack the capacity to thoroughly examine legal and transactional issues related to investment contracts at national level.

Land-law principles and guidelines such as those supported by the SDC are needed to make information on land deals available and to update it continuously. Dialogue with all stakeholders, including the private sector and government officials, helps create space for the needs and concerns of disadvantaged groups in policymaking processes. In this context, grievance mechanisms enable affected populations to hold governments and/or investors accountable and, where applicable, obtain appropriate compensation.

Switzerland is aware that existential issues such as those relating to land access, use and tenure have to be resolved in consultation with all stakeholders if conflicts are to be prevented.

Current projects

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SomReP - Somalia Resilience Program

01.04.2020 - 31.03.2023

In the fragile and conflict affected context of Somalia, SDC’s contribution to the Somalia Resilience Programme Consortium enables pastoral, agro-pastoral, displaced persons and peri-urban poor to increase their ability to prepare for, adapt to and live through shocks without eroding their productivity or assets. Focusing on capacity building, livelihood diversification and the elaboration of community-based early warning systems, this initiative is complementary to ongoing efforts of government of Somalia and international community to build resilience of communities to climate shocks.


Opportunities for Youth Employment (OYE)

OYE recipients Elizabeth (L) and Hosiana, Dodoma 2021

01.03.2020 - 31.05.2024

Inspired by aspects of the Swiss Vocational Skills Development model, the Opportunities for Youth Employment project aims to improve the livelihoods of young rural and peri-urban out-of-school women and men. In addition to building youths' skills-set and connecting them with existing markets for gainful selfemployment in agriculture and renewable energy, this project will also contribute to a more youth friendly and effective market system and policy environment Co-funding is provided by the private sector.


PROMEL - Programme de Promotion de l’entreprenariat local

01.03.2020 - 30.04.2025

Dans le contexte fragile du Niger, avec une économie peu diversifiée et informelle à 60%, le secteur agricole offre des emplois précaires à 85% de la population et constitue 40% du PIB. En exploitant ce potentiel avec l'approche systémique du développement des marchés, la Suisse vise à promouvoir l'entrepreneuriat agricole pour les femmes et les jeunes dans les régions de Dosso et Maradi. Cela contribuera à une croissance économique inclusive, à la cohésion sociale, à la paix et à la stabilité dans ces régions.


Tanzania Social Action Fund

A family in Shinyanga Region

01.03.2020 - 30.09.2023

Switzerland’s contribution to Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF) for the implementation of the Productive Social Safety Net Programme (PSSN) will reach approximately 100’000 poor households in Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar through cash transfers, public works and livelihoods support. The focus is on providing technical assistance to the new Livelihoods Enhancement component by bringing in the Swiss expertise and experience in skills development, small enterprise support and professional training with the aim of leaving no one behind.


FAO Desert Locust Emergency Response in the Horn of Africa Region

20.02.2020 - 19.06.2021

To control the spread of the worst outbreak of desert locusts in decades in the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya) and safeguard livelihoods of thousands of affected vulnerable households, Switzerland intends to contribute to the regional desert locust crisis appeal by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. 


WFP Haiti Supply Chain Response

06.01.2020 - 30.04.2021

Face à la hausse de l'insécurité en Haiti depuis 2018 avec un pic ces 3 derniers mois, l'accès des acteurs humanitaires et de développement à leurs zones d'intervention est devenu difficile. Les populations en besoin d'assistance sont à la hausse sans pouvoir être assistées à cause des lacunes des capacités logistiques. La DDC supporte cette intervention en vue de faciliter la reprise/continuité des activités, renforcer les capacités logistiques (aérienne, maritime, terrestre ..) en vue d'atteindre les populations en besoin d'assistance.


Strengthening Drought Resilience in Pastoral and Agro-pastoral Areas of Somali National Regional State, Ethiopia (SDR - SNRS)

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2022

Pastoral and agro-pastoral livelihoods in Ethiopia's Somali National Regional State (SNRS) are increasingly threatened by environmental (climatic) changes and land degradation. GIZ along with Local Government partners aims at building the resilience of vulnerable pastoralist communities through proven land rehabilitation measures, the promotion of livelihood activities and capacity development of government and private sector institutions.


Small Irrigation Programme (SIP)

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2024

Swiss engagement through this project assists farmers in doubling their agricultural income through year-round irrigation and better access to markets. Doubling of agriculture income will contribute to poverty reduction and reduce poor farmer’s need to migrate. In addition, Swiss pioneering work in operationalizing federalism, through this project at local level will address issues related to historic over-centralization and social exclusion and will contribute to peace and stability in the country.


Mine Clearance

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2022

In the past 30 years, Cambodia has cleared over 1,900 km2 of minefields, benefiting approx. 5.6 million people. However, an area of approx.860 km2 is still heavily contaminated. Cambodia aims to be a mine-free country by 2025. The main goal of the Swiss contribution is the clearance of 12.2 km2 of mined areas spread in a long strip of land in northwestern Cambodia that will provide safe access to land and livelihood development directly to 25,000 rural households. 


National Water Resource Management Project in Uzbekistan

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2023

The project supports the water sector reform through the development of an Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) - based strategic framework that ensures equitable and fair water distribution among all water users. This will allow the Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) to efficiently and effectively manage water resources leading to increased water productivity and improved livelihoods of the rural population in Uzbekistan.


Responsible Agricultural Investments Leveraging (RAIL) by IFAD

15.12.2019 - 31.12.2023

The International Fund for Agricultural Development IFAD is a key partner for Switzerland in the efforts to lift smallholder farmers out of poverty. SDC supports the IFAD-led Agricultural Business Capital Fund to finance responsibly African farmer organisations, small and medium agribusiness enterprises, and rural financial intermediaries. The Fund will lead to higher incomes and more jobs notably for youth and women as well as increased food security, contributing to improved livelihoods of an estimated 430’000 smallholder households applying more sustainable farm practices.


Promoting efficient, affordable and clean cooling for everyone (PEACCE)

15.12.2019 - 31.12.2023

 

This project addresses increasing heatwaves by providing people of developing and emerging countries with access to efficient, affordable and clean cooling. The project will address both climate change mitigation and adaptation while improving the health, nutrition and productivity of people living in hot climates. This will be achieved by supporting select countries to set ambitious commitments on cooling in their climate policies. Swiss experience on climate-friendly cooling will be shared. 

Object 73 – 84 of 173