Improved Land Management in the Mekong Region

Project description

Title: Improved Land Management in the Mekong Region
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Countries: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam
Overall term: 2015 to 2018

Community discussing a land conflict case. Photo credit © MRLG


In recent years in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam, land and land-use rights have been withdrawn from a large number of small-scale farmers, with the lands in question subsequently being given over as concessions to domestic and foreign investors without appropriate compensation. These appropriations have particularly affected marginal groups, such as ethnic minorities, who have suffered the loss of their lands, forced resettlement or migration, and the loss of livelihoods. This leads, in turn, to poverty and malnutrition.


Small-scale farmers, especially those from ethnic minorities in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam, are able to secure appropriate and equitable access to agricultural land, forests and fishing grounds.

Encroached Land in Cambodia. © GIZ / Vishnu Law Group


This project, which GIZ is implementing on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), is a contribution to the overarching Mekong Region Land Governance Programme of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The larger programme addresses land access issues and aims to improve the situation of smallholder farmers in the rural areas of the four countries involved. Programme activities are geared first and foremost towards the interests of ethnic minorities and women.

The SDC approach involves working with change agents – either individuals or organisations – who can champion reform and initiate change processes in the four countries. The change agents must have the experience, mandate and status that enables them to deliver results. They include national and international NGOs, other associations and organisations, government institutions at the national and sub-national levels, parliamentarians, research institutions and universities, private sector and media representatives, and other significant individuals.

These agents are tasked with kick-starting important change processes, pursuing a strategy that works at multiple levels. By supporting cross-sector and cross-border exchanges, the programme will foster a broader understanding of innovative and meaningful land governance policies, thereby promoting their implementation. Furthermore, the creation of the multi-stakeholder networks required for these exchanges will enhance shared learning and dialogue among these stakeholders.

The programme supports those involved in the reforms by funding pilot measures and research. The aim is to provide examples of best practice and enable the change agents to drive the reform agenda forward.

GIZ contributes to a Quick Disbursement Fund and an Innovation Fund, both of which are open to interested stakeholders. The Quick Disbursement Fund provides support at short notice for urgent actions. It serves two purposes. First, it addresses pressing situations that directly threaten the tenure of family farmers, women and ethnic minorities. Secondly, it can influence emerging land governance agendas and encourage a more positive policy environment at regional, national or local levels.

The Innovation Fund provides grants for short- and medium-term projects that develop, demonstrate, promote or adopt innovative practices. Eligible projects are those that aim to influence policy or that could be expanded and integrated into regular practices using additional sources of funding. An area of particular interest is capacity development for stakeholders and communities, enabling them to participate more meaningfully in land governance. This includes, for example, approaches that focus on responsible large-scale land-based investments or on the introduction of innovative and cost-effective land administration and management solutions.

Multi-stakeholder networking. Photo credit © MRLG