Land Management and Decentralised Planning

Project description

Title: Land Management and Decentralised Planning I & II
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Laos
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Planning and Investment; Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
Overall term: 2015 to 2019

Conducting Land Cadastral Survey Photo credit © GIZ/ Bart Verweij

Context

Most people in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) directly depend on agriculture. Government agencies still struggle to safeguard rural people’s legal rights to use and reap the benefits from their land and to manage investments sustainably. Land concessions to investors and inadequate protection of land-use rights threaten the livelihoods of many subsistence farmers, especially marginalised groups and women. Investor practices are not frequently aligned with national policies or international standards such as the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT). People in rural areas rarely participate in the planning and management of land-use, and public institutions have limited capacities for designing and implementing strategies to tackle poverty.

As part of the wider Lao-German Land Program, the Land Management and Decentralised Planning programme (LMDP) has implemented activities to tackle these challenges from 2015 to 2019. The current phase, LMDP II, is building on the experience generated by the precursory projects.

The LMDP I & II projects sought for rural communities, including women and marginalised groups in three provinces of Laos, to participate in planning and decision-making regarding land and to reap sustainable benefits from national and local economic development. The projects have contributed to improved land governance, including land use planning at all levels and enhanced tenure security for rural communities. As an important prerequisite to enhanced land rights, access to land for rural communities has been further protected through an expansion of systematically registered and titled land. This in turn requires Lao government agencies to have the technical capacity and commitment to conduct land registration based on participatory land use planning, and to manage land based on careful analysis. The vision for Laos is that eventually the ownership of land beyond Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH’s target regions has been systematically determined, registered and captured in a central cadaster (the Lao LandReg).

Objective

Policies, practices and planning processes in relation to land in the Lao government but particularly among investors, village authorities and communities are improved.

Group of Villagers_ Photo credit © GIZ/ Bart Verweij

Approach

The projects tackle land rights both from a top-down supply and a bottom-up demand side.

  • It provides policy and technical advice to the Lao government on improving land rights and tenure security and strengthens the systematic surveying, registration and titling of individual and communal plots of land. It also strives to foster a dialogue between donors, the government and civil society.
  • It implements capacity development measures – ranging from on-the-job training and coaching, formal trainings and workshops to learning exchanges with other countries – that target government officials from the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MoNRE) and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) at a national, provincial and district level. These measures are about technical capacity for, e.g., land zoning and measurement and land use planning at village and subnational levels, legal and good practices when it comes to sustainable agri-investments, and institutional capacities to coordinate with others and to respond better to grievances from communities in a gender- and conflict-sensitive way, and to manage data and information.
  • It facilitates participatory land use planning and dispute resolution at village and meso-levels, as a basis for further action. With regard to investments, it works with district officials in instituting a monitoring system, to enhance compliance of investments with good practices, exchange fora for government, investors and communities to come to agreed improvements.
  • Furthermore, cooperation with GIZ’s regional project on Improving Land Management in the Mekong Region, which has close ties to the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation’s Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) Programme, continues to generate potential synergies. For instance, MRLG has funded projects that have also partnered with LMDP in conducting awareness-raising activities with villagers as well as trainings on contract farming for farmers.
  • LMDP does all of the above building on capacities and learning resulting from other projects within the wider Lao-German Land Program, specifically Enhanced Land Tenure Security (ELTeS) running from 2017 to 2020, which is being implemented in different target areas and develops some innovative ideas and approaches.

Results

LMDP II started recently and has therefore not yet produced tangible outcomes. However, it builds directly on the achievements of LMDP I, which include:

  • Participatory Land-Use Planning conducted in 67 villages across eight districts in four provinces of Laos, offered some measure of protection for more than 140,000 hectares of village land.
  • More than 31,000 plots of land were registered. Of those registered, 70 per cent are in the name of a woman or with conjugal ownership.
  • More than 25,000 land titles were issued in target areas, providing the highest degree of formal land tenure security.
  •  More than 80 per cent of investment projects monitored by the Land Program achieved good scores on a rating system based on legal guidelines, international sustainability and national development.
  • The GIZ-supported digital cadaster (the Lao LandReg) has been officially endorsed by the Lao government and is currently in the process of becoming the central cadaster.

A 2016 impact study showed that in selected villages, villagers in intervention areas consistently knew more about land rights than respondents in non-intervention areas. The more comprehensive the intervention was, the more secure respondents perceived their land use rights to be.

Conducting Land Cadastral Survey in Field_ Photo credit © GIZ/ Bart Verweij