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

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Resilience for Pastoralist Communities in Northern Kenya

01.03.2021 - 31.07.2025

Pastoralism is a millennia old livelihood strategy adapted to the marginal and harsh environ-ments of Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL). In order to support pastoralists, this programme contributes to strengthening public and private institutions in the water and livestock sectors, putting policy frameworks in place to ensure efficient county-wide and cross-border water and rangeland management systems, and to increase access to water and pasture.


AgriPath: Empowering farmers’ transition to sustainable agriculture through effective and efficient digital pathways

01.03.2021 - 28.02.2026

500 million smallholder farmers need to increase their agriculture productivity, income and climate resilience. There is a lack of scientifically validated evidence on the effectiveness and cost efficiency of digital agriculture services. AgriPath aims to bring sustainable agriculture[1] to scale by identifying, evaluating, and promoting promising pathways for digitally supported agricultural advisory services. 

[1] The Consortium will embrace current concepts of climate resilient agriculture, climate smart agriculture, sustainable land management and agro-ecology. 


Programme d’Appui aux Filières Agropastorales de Sikasso - PAFA 2

01.01.2021 - 31.12.2024

En partenariat avec le Luxembourg, la Suisse soutient les exploitations familiales, le secteur privé et les collectivités, chacun dans leur rôle, dans le développement des filières pomme de terre et lait dans le Sud du Mali, générant ainsi des opportunités d’emplois et de revenus durables, en particulier pour les femmes et les jeunes. Le programme soutient ainsi le développement économique et la stabilité politique d’une zone peu touchée par le conflit, mais où ses précurseurs sont présents.


WOCAT 2020+ The Global Network for Sustainable Land Management

01.01.2021 - 31.12.2024

Implementing sustainable land management is essential for reducing land degradation and achieving climate and livelihood resilience. WOCAT, the Swiss founded Global Sustainable Land Management Platform, offers robust and up-to-date knowledge and tools for evidence-based decision-making to implement the most appropriate practices within a given context to improve land resources, ecosystems and livelihoods.


PFNL Crédit d'ouverture Phase 1

01.01.2021 - 28.02.2026

Au Tchad, les PFNL constituent une importante source d’alimentation pour la population rurale (tamarinier, jujubier). Le projet facilite : (i) la valorisation de certains PFNL pour améliorer la sécurité alimentaire et nutritionnelle, (ii) l’accès à des marchés porteurs et rémunérateurs à travers le renforcement des petites et moyennes entreprises et, (iii) l’amélioration des conditions cadres socio-économiques visant la création d’emploi et de revenu pour les plus pauvres (gomme arabique).


Covid-19 Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (single phase)

01.12.2020 - 31.12.2022

Established by The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF) addresses immediate impacts of the Covid 19 pandemic on rural people, prevents the erosion of results from past and ongoing operations, and puts in place building blocks to support post crisis recovery and long term resilience. As an IFAD member state, Switzerland joins international efforts with this time-bound response to prevent the health crisis from turning into a food crisis.


Upgrading Karm Abu Salem Crossing - Gaza

01.10.2020 - 31.12.2022

Switzerland will support improving the export/import conditions of goods to and from the Gaza Strip.

The project, implemented by UNOPS, will upgrade the poor infrastructure at the Palestinian side of

the only functioning commercial crossing between Gaza and Israel. The existing infrastructure con-

ditions are causing around 10% of damages to the transiting commodities thus incurring substantial

economic losses that are affecting the living conditions of two million people in the Gaza Strip


Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC)

01.08.2020 - 31.07.2024

Vector-borne neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and malaria are major causes of mortality, morbidity and lack of economic progress for the poorest. Targeting the vector (mosquito) is a main eradication approach. Due to climate change and natural mutation, insecticide resistance is affecting most malaria endemic countries. The Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC) is the world-leader Product Development Partnership developing innovative and safe insecticides. SDC strategic support to IVCC complements Switzerland’s global action against malaria. 


Accès aux bénéficiaires en Afrique de l’Ouest

01.06.2020 - 31.12.2023

Dans un contexte d’insécurité civile et alimentaire croissante, aggravée par la crise économique et sanitaire due au Covid-19, seul le service aérien humanitaire des Nations Unies (UNHAS) permet d’accéder aux populations grâce à un transport sûr et rapide d’acteurs et de biens humanitaires et de développement. La contribution à UNHAS permettra d’atteindre les populations vulnérables dans les régions reculées, d’assurer le suivi des programmes suisses et de rendre compte sur ces derniers.


Programme de renforcement de la résilience des ménages pastoraux et agropastoraux face aux crises climatiques et à l'insécurité (RESILIA) Phase 1

01.06.2020 - 31.12.2024

la DDC contribue au renforcement de la résilience de plus de 700’000 personnes dont les déplacées internes, affectées par la crise sécuritaire et les changements climatiques au Burkina Faso. Se basant sur la riche expérience de la Suisse dans l’élevage pastoral au Sahel, le programme va soutenir les pasteurs et agropasteurs pour que leur pratique d’élevage et moyens de subsistance s’adaptent aux défis climatiques et améliorent leurs conditions de vie tout en favorisant la paix au Burkina Faso.


Programme d’Appui au Plaidoyer des Faîtières des Organisations Socio-professionnelles Agricoles (AP/OSP)

01.05.2020 - 30.04.2024

L’agriculture constitue la principale source d’emploi et de revenu au Bénin. Or, les réformes dans le secteur de l’agriculture ne sont pas encore toutes définies de commun accord avec tous les acteurs. La Suisse contribue au renforcement institutionnel et à la gouvernance des faîtières des producteurs et éleveurs afin que ces derniers puissent mieux jouer leurs rôles d’interpellation, de proposition, de participation et de suivi de la mise en œuvre des politiques agricoles.


Programme d’Appui au Secteur du Développement Rural (Wusua Dabu) - PASDeR

01.05.2020 - 30.04.2024

Au Bénin, l’agriculture constitue la principale source d’emploi et de revenu. Des reformes ont été initiées par le gouvernement pour promouvoir les filières agricole et animale. Se basant sur les acquis des phases précédentes, la DDC vise à mettre à l’échelle le programme en élargissant la zone géographique d’intervention sur tout le Nord et d’augmenter le nombre de filières cibles, tout en s’inscrivant dans une approche plus économique et créatrice d’emplois pour les jeunes et les femmes.

Object 13 – 24 of 168