Land management and decentralised planning

Project description

Title: Land management and decentralised planning
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 2017

Conducting Land Cadastral Survey Photo credit © GIZ/ Bart Verweij


Laos has reported high economic growth for several years. The rural population has so far benefited relatively little. 70 per cent of the population depends on agriculture either directly or indirectly. The awarding of large-scale concessions to investors and the lack of adequate protection for land use rights are threatening the livelihoods of many subsistence producers, especially marginalised groups and women. People in rural areas do not participate to any large extent in planning and managing their own socio-economic situation, and public institutions have only limited capacities to design and implement strategies to tackle poverty.

Public stakeholders are not yet able to safeguard the legal rights of rural people to use and invest in land. Nor are they able to manage public and private investments in a way that will alleviate poverty and be sustainable.


People in the rural target areas enjoy greater legal rights to land use, while the management of investments in the public and private sectors has improved.

Group of Villagers_ Photo credit © GIZ/ Bart Verweij


The project provides policy advice on governance in the land sector. It is strengthening the systematic registration of individual and communal plots of land, and encouraging the allocation of land titles. While supporting improvements to the quality of investments in land and to decentralised development planning, it also supports individual and institutional capacity development for pro-poor development planning and management.

The project is assisting its partners in establishing a dialogue between donors, the government and non-governmental organisations, and on developing a land policy and land laws.

Transparent and participatory development planning that takes into account current ownership and usage rights of land not only ensures local people have legal security, it also provides them with a more general level of political protection. By ensuring transparency in planning and ownership it is possible to identify and resolve conflicts of interest between private investments (for example, in the form of land concessions) and traditional ancestral land use rights and subsistence needs at an early stage.

The programme promotes broad-based capacity development at all levels (district, provincial and national) so as to improve the performance of public stakeholders. With this multi-level approach it encourages the three layers of administration to exchange information and experiences with one another and also with village residents. The programme also supports inter-ministerial coordination at all levels.

Special efforts are made to involve civil society stakeholders wherever possible. Furthermore, many potential synergies are being opened up through cooperation with a new regional GIZ project, ‘Improving Land Management in the Mekong Region’, which in turn has close ties to the ‘Mekong Region Land Governance’ programme of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).


This programme builds on the results of two other GIZ projects, ‘Land Management and Rural Economic Development’ and the ‘Northern Upland Integrated Rural Development Programme’. With the greater involvement of the target groups, these projects successfully tested and introduced processes and instruments for creating village and district development plans as well as investment and land-use plans, and they developed systematic land registration systems and dialogue forums. These experiences have also been fed into comments on the new land policy and land law.

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