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 25 – 36 of 1099

Sustainable management protects people and their livelihoods in Tajikistan

01.12.2016 - 31.12.2019

Flash floods and mudslides are examples of hazards that threatens inhabitants of Muminabad district in Tajikistan. Switzerland is supporting a project to reduce the risk of natural disasters in four watersheds of the district. The project of Caritas Switzerland relies on a sustainable agriculture and livestock production with a strong involvement of local communities and authorities.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Tajikistan
Climate change and environment
Disaster risk reduction DRR
Environmental policy
DISASTER PREVENTION AND PREPAREDNESS
GENERAL ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION
Disaster prevention and preparedness
Environmental policy and administrative management

01.12.2016 - 31.12.2019


CHF 2'034'543



Lebanon: education and care in a neighbourhood shared by Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians

Inside a classroom where a woman teacher is sitting in front of a group of children showing them a book.

01.08.2016 - 31.12.2019

The inhabitants of Hay el Gharbé in southern Beirut live in a very precarious situation. Since 2012, a number of Syrian refugees have joined their neighbourhood. The SDC supports the Lebanese NGO Tahaddi, which has made a real difference in people’s lives here – such as with its education centre, helping a large number of children to (re)discover schooling and escape their daily hardships. 

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Lebanon
Education
Health
Primary education
Primary health care
Medical services
EDUCATION
HEALTH
HEALTH
Primary education
Basic health care
Medical services

01.08.2016 - 31.12.2019


CHF 774'000



Supporting livestock traceability in the South Caucasus

The image shows a close-up of a calf with an identification tag in its right ear.

15.06.2016 - 30.11.2020

Identifying where animals have come from and recording information about their health is essential in modern agriculture to prevent the spread of diseases and stop products from diseased animals reaching the market. A system to ensure traceability will help to improve the incomes of farmers in the South Caucasus by increasing both herd productivity and the producers’ access to markets.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
South Caucasus
Agriculture & food security
Agriculture value-chain development (til 2016)
OTHER MULTISECTOR
Rural development

15.06.2016 - 30.11.2020


CHF 5'935'000



Combating corruption in Kosovo

Four young developers sitting at a table discussing IT solutions designed to help the municipality create more transparency.

01.05.2016 - 30.04.2020

Corruption is rampant among Kosovo’s public institutions and undermines citizens’ trust in the system. The SDC is supporting a project designed to address this problem by promoting transparency in institutions and encouraging citizens to report abuses.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Kosovo
Governance
Anti-corruption organisations
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Anti-corruption organisations and institutions

01.05.2016 - 30.04.2020


CHF 2'855'500



Confronting and combating gender-based violence in Mongolia

Two female Mongolian social workers.

01.05.2016 - 30.04.2020

Gender-based violence has been on the rise in Mongolia since the turn of the millennium. Yet because of a serious lack of data, the extent of the phenomenon is difficult to assess and a culture of impunity continues to hold sway.  The SDC plans to conduct a national survey to address this problem.  At the same time, it intends to strengthen institutions, put in place appropriate services and raise public awareness.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Mongolia
Governance
Human rights
Legal and judicial development
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Legal and judicial development
Human rights

01.05.2016 - 30.04.2020


CHF 4'090'000



Prospects for young, unemployed adults in Bosnia and Herzegovina

01.04.2016 - 31.03.2020

The aim of the Youth Employment Project (YEP) is to help public employment bodies in Bosnia and Herzegovina to improve their offer and to introduce youth-friendly services, such as individual and group careers advice for unemployed young adults between 18 and 30 years. Together with local partners, YEP also promotes new job opportunities linked to social entrepreneurship models.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Employment & economic development
Vocational training
Employment creation
Business support & economic inclusion
Vocational training
OTHER SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND SERVICES
BUSINESS & OTHER SERVICES
EDUCATION
Employment policy and administrative management
Business support services and institutions
Vocational training

01.04.2016 - 31.03.2020


CHF 4'800'000



Migration for social well-being and economic development in Sri Lanka

Family members excitedly examine their travel documents

01.03.2016 - 29.02.2020

Every year, large numbers of Sri Lankans leave their country to work abroad for a few years, usually in the Gulf States. They thereby further Sri Lanka's economic development but at the same time risk having their basic human rights, and their labour rights in particular, violated. That is why the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is working for the establishment of a framework that ensures decent working conditions for migrant workers in the region.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Sri Lanka
Migration
Labour migration
Migration generally (development aspects and partnerships)
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
EMERGENCY RESPONSE
Facilitation of orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility
Facilitation of orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility
Material relief assistance and services

01.03.2016 - 29.02.2020


CHF 6'850'000



Nepal: An array of measures to tackle gender-based violence

Group photo of the participants from above

01.02.2016 - 30.06.2020

Gender-based violence is a widespread problem in Nepal, and an obstacle to sustainable development. The SDC and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) launched a 3-year prevention and response project at the beginning of 2016. Women and girls are learning about their rights and being encouraged to report assaults. Men and boys are being encouraged to change their behaviour towards women. And duty bearers are learning to respond more rapidly and effectively. The project is already delivering first encouraging results.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Nepal
Gender
Human rights
Sexual & gender-based violence
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Ending violence against women and girls
Human rights

01.02.2016 - 30.06.2020


CHF 3'743'000



Vocational skills development in Tunisia – destination employment

In Tunisia, an SDC programme enables young job seekers to acquire the technical and social skills required in the workplace

01.01.2016 - 31.12.2020


An SDC programme boosts the employability of young Tunisians entering the job market. It provides them with training in vocational skills to equip them with the practical experience and know-how required in the workplace.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Tunisia
Vocational training
Employment & economic development
Vocational training
Employment creation
EDUCATION
OTHER SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND SERVICES
Vocational training
Employment policy and administrative management

01.01.2016 - 31.12.2020


CHF 9'603'475



Swiss communes improve access to water in countries of the South

Residents of Nouakchott dig a long straight trench in a sandy street to lay a section of the 50 kilometres of new water pipes in the Mauritanian capital, while a young girl is looking on from the edge of the pavement.

01.01.2016 - 31.10.2019

Solidarit’eau suisse is helping fund projects to improve access to clean drinking water in developing countries. Initiated by the SDC, this internet platform enables communes and other local authorities in Switzerland to consult the list of projects and, if they want to become more involved, make contact with partners abroad.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Switzerland
Water
Governance
Drinking water and basic sanitation (WASH) (til 2016)
Water supply
Decentralisation
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Basic drinking water supply and basic sanitation
Basic drinking water supply
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)

01.01.2016 - 31.10.2019


CHF 710'000



Policy Dialogue for better Health Governance in Ukraine

A woman is at the doctor's.

01.12.2015 - 30.11.2019

This project aims to strengthen the Ukrainian health ministry's authority and expertise in order to best manage the reforms underway in this sector. In particular, priorities will be defined more clearly and public policy which meets the specific health needs of the population will be drawn up and implemented.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Ukraine
Health
Health systems strengthening
HEALTH
HEALTH
Health policy and administrative management
Health policy and administrative management

01.12.2015 - 30.11.2019


CHF 1'850'000



Reforming civil society organisations in Moldova

Women and men assembled in a room

01.12.2015 - 30.06.2021

The Engaging Citizens and Empowering Communities project aims to strengthen civil society organisations by enabling them to play a crucial role in promoting and safeguarding the rights and interests of vulnerable and marginalised people in Moldova.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Moldova
Governance
Human rights
Democratic participation and civil society
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Democratic participation and civil society
Human rights

01.12.2015 - 30.06.2021


CHF 3'150'000


Object 25 – 36 of 1099