Land rights

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.

Documents

Current projects

Object 157 – 168 of 168

Programme d’Appui au Secteur de l’Elevage au Mali – PASEM

01.12.2014 - 31.12.2021

Malgré son importance dans l’économie, l’environnement et les sociétés (agro)pastorales, l’élevage rencontre plusieurs contraintes dont la faible productivité, l’insécurité foncière, la faible organisation des acteurs et une forme de marginalisation sociale des éleveurs. La DDC souhaite valoriser les immenses potentialités de l’élevage en renforçant l’approche chaine de valeurs orientée vers le développement des marchés et des acteurs du secteur privé, favorisant la prise en compte des pauvres, des femmes et des jeunes.


Global Governance on Food Security

01.10.2014 - 31.12.2024

Switzerland will strengthen its commitment for an inclusive and effective global architecture for food security and nutrition. Therefore, the SDC/GPFS will maintain the focus of its attention on  the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), which is the most inclusive policy platform for food security-related issues. The second focus will be on the coordination role of the UN system at interagency and policy levels. The participation of farmers’ organisations in country-based public investment programmes will also be facilitated, in line with the above-mentioned interventions.


Livestock Development in the South of Armenia

Armenian Farmer with his calf

01.09.2014 - 31.08.2021

In the provinces of Syunik and Vayots Dzor in southern Armenia, the agricultural sector mostly comprises subsistence farming where farmers are barely able to support their households. This project aims to help farmers increase their milk and meat production, and thus their incomes, by supporting local veterinary services (to improve animal health), facilitating access to milk and meat markets, and promoting the sharing of know-how among farmers.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Armenia
Agriculture & food security

Agricultural development
Agricultural research
Agricultural services & market

01.09.2014 - 31.08.2021


CHF 10'995'756



Programme d’appui à la production agricole en Haiti

01.07.2014 - 31.12.2021

Le développement et le renforcement des services financiers et de conseils agricoles ainsi qu’un ciblage des groupes vulnérables en milieu rural contribueront – à travers de plus grands investissements dans l’agriculture - à une productivité et à une qualité accrue dans les filières concernées, à des revenus plus importants, à une sécurité alimentaire améliorée, à une vulnérabilité réduite et à une meilleure protection sociale des petit-e-s producteurs-trices et des personnes les plus défavorisées.


IGAD-FAO Partnership Programme (PP) on Building Resilience for (Agro-) Pastoralist Communities

01.06.2014 - 31.08.2021

IGAD and FAO will jointly contribute to build resilience of communities in the Horn of Africa’s cross-border areas by addressing marketing and trade, transboundary animal diseases and natural resources management. It will also contribute to strengthen the capacity of IGAD specialized agencies to lead the regional agenda for the improvement of cross-border pastoral livelihoods.


Institutional Strengthening of IGAD

31.05.2014 - 30.06.2021

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is a sub-regional organization in the Horn of Africa. In line with Switzerland’s decision to increase its engagement with IGAD, the proposed contribution aims at strengthening the organization institutionally based on its political legitimacy, thematic relevance and capacity to contribute to peace and development in one of the world’s most fragile regions.


Home Garden

16.01.2014 - 31.12.2021

Small and marginal farmers in Nepal, especially women and children, are regularly exposed to malnutrition and are vulnerable to external shocks such as health risks and natural hazards. Home garden aims to improve family nutrition and reduce vulnerability of such individuals and households. Objectives are to diversify dietary sources of disadvantaged groups in homestead for family consumption and increase capacity for adaptation to natural hazards and climate change. The project strengthens the safety net and the coping strategy of the most vulnerable in Nepal.
 


Programme d’Appui aux Filières Agropastorales de Sikasso – PAFA

01.06.2013 - 31.07.2021

La DDC soutient le Conseil Régional de Sikasso et les partenaires privés locaux dans l’amélioration des conditions cadres pour le développement des filières pomme de terre et lait. Les appuis apportés contribueront à une meilleure organisation des différents segments de ces filières, de la production au marché et à la valorisation locale des produits au profit des petits producteurs et transformateurs. A terme, plus de 360'000 personnes assureront leur sécurité alimentaire et réduiront leur pauvreté.


Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development - Research Module on Ecosystems

15.05.2013 - 31.12.2023

Enhancing sustainable and climate-friendly use and management of ecosystems for human well-being is at the core of a new research module in the context of SDC’s and the Swiss National Science Foundation’s (SNSF) joint r4d Program (Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development; www.r4d.ch). Researchers from Switzerland with their partners in Africa, Asia, and Latin America will jointly generate new insights and develop innovative concepts and tools for a more sustainable and equitable provision of ecosystem services benefiting the poor.


Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development - Research Module on Food Security

15.05.2013 - 31.12.2023

Achieving food security remains a global challenge. The SDC’s and the Swiss National Science Foundation’s (SNSF) joint r4d Program (Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development; www.r4d.ch) will promote research and innovation in agricultural and food systems to enhance food security in the context of global sustainable development. Researchers from Switzerland with their partners in Africa, Asia, and Latin America will jointly generate new insights and approaches that contribute to meet the global demand for food in an environmentally and socially sustainable way.


Local Roads Improvement Programme (LRIP – I)

01.12.2012 - 31.12.2021

Past SDC interventions have focussed on making rural road construction work for the poor and disadvantaged through labour-intensive construction methods. This project now takes proven approaches further by ensuring even more all-weather accessibility to markets and services by emphasising the importance of maintenance and preservation of built roads through promotion of labour-based roads maintenance methods and by fostering an institutional process in the districts, which should pave the way for the highly successful concepts of road construction and maintenance to be adopted as national standards.


Object 157 – 168 of 168