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 49 – 60 of 1102

The members of municipal councils working for democracy

Women and men assembled in a community hall.

01.07.2014 - 30.06.2020

With the ‘Empowering Municipal Councils’ project, Switzerland’s international cooperation is helping municipal councils in North Macedonia to become effective local authorities whose community policies take into account the interests of ordinary citizens.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Macedonia
Governance
Decentralisation

01.07.2014 - 30.06.2020


CHF 4'000'000



New approach in Bosnia and Herzegovina for democratisation

A man standing in front of a blue gate valve connected to a large blue pipe.

01.07.2014 - 30.06.2020

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s water and sanitation infrastructure is outdated and a large segment of the population has no access to a water supply. The starting point for the SDC’s project is good governance – the authorities must be transparent about building and renovation decisions, and ensure an inclusive political process for the citizens their decisions affect.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Governance
Public sector policy
Decentralisation
Democratic participation and civil society

01.07.2014 - 30.06.2020


CHF 12'000'000



AfDB/AfDF: African Development Bank / African Development Fund – Core Contribution

01.05.2014 - 31.12.2023

The mandate of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the African Development Fund (AfDF) is to promote sustainable economic and social development in Africa by providing support for good governance and private sector development, infrastructure, higher education and vocational training. Switzerland has been supporting the AfDF since its foundation in 1972 and has been a member since 1982.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Africa
Other
Sector not specified

01.05.2014 - 31.12.2023


CHF 207'759'519



Programme d’Appui à la Formation Professionnelle

01.01.2014 - 31.12.2019

Le marché du travail au Mali est caractérisé par une main d’œuvre peu qualifiée. Dans ce contexte, 300'000 jeunes arrivent chaque année sur ce marché sans compétences. L’offre de formation par domaine et/ou filière est en deçà des attentes du secteur productif. La formation professionnelle e 40'000 personnes dont 50% de femmes à l’horizon 2017, améliore la qualité des ouvrages et augmente la compétitivité des entreprises en contribuant à l’augmentation des revenus dans les régions prioritaires de la DDC et de la coopération danoise.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Mali
Vocational training
Employment & economic development
Agriculture & food security
Education
Vocational training
Employment creation
Advanced professional training
Agriculture value-chain development (til 2016)
Education facilities and training

01.01.2014 - 31.12.2019


CHF 16'957'000



Programme for Supporting Decentralised Management of Literacy in Benin (PAGEDA)

An adult literacy centre in a Fulani camp in the village of Goure Bene, municipality of Nikki, Borgou, 2014

01.01.2014 - 30.09.2020

The programme for supporting the decentralised management of literacy services in Benin (PAGEDA) aims to provide high-quality literacy programmes that will enable 30,000 people (50-50 gender split, with most aged 15-30), who are excluded from or have no access to the formal education system, to acquire life skills and fully exercise their rights. The programme also aims to address gender, age and regional disparities in relation to access to education.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Benin
Education
Vocational training
Employment & economic development
Basic life skills
Vocational training
Employment creation

01.01.2014 - 30.09.2020


CHF 6'320'000



Improving access to good-quality healthcare services in Kosovo

A nurse giving a prescription to a patient in a primary healthcare centre.

01.11.2013 - 31.12.2019

The standard of healthcare provision in Kosovo is inadequate and does not meet the needs of the general population. Vulnerable groups are particularly affected, with a number of economic and social barriers limiting their access to care. That is why the SDC is working to improve the quality and inclusivity of the primary healthcare system in Kosovo.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Kosovo
Health
Health systems strengthening

01.11.2013 - 31.12.2019


CHF 7'190'000



Increasing the Quality of Health Services for All

15.10.2013 - 30.04.2020


Albania has the lowest public health spending in the region. Many patients bypass primary health care and overcrowd hospitals, especially in larger cities. In addition, non-communicable diseases are increasing at an alarming rate. Therefore health promotion, prevention of diseases and improved primary health care services are a top priority for the country.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Albania
Health
Health systems strengthening
Medical services
Primary health care

15.10.2013 - 30.04.2020


CHF 10'000'000



oPt, Enhancing Social Engagement and Accountability through Culture and the Arts

Qattana local community members are beautifying their village through repairing and painting the walls

01.09.2013 - 31.12.2019

The aim of this intervention is to enhance social engagement and participation, to promote the role of people as agents of change and to strengthen social accountability in the oPt. SDC will support initiatives that use arts and culture as a means to enhance democratic debates, promote social inclusion and active participation within the communities and between the communities and the local authorities. The initiatives will favour the participation of youth and women in local public debates.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Palestinian Authority
Human rights
Conflict & fragility
Culture & recreation
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
Conflict prevention

01.09.2013 - 31.12.2019


CHF 901'868



AsDB/AsDF: Asian Development Bank / Asian Development Fund – Core Contribution

01.01.2013 - 31.12.2021

The Asian Development Fund (AsDF) managed by the Asian Development Bank (AsDB) grants loans to its poorer member countries in the Asia-Pacific region to help them reduce poverty and improve people’s quality of life. This should be achieved through inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth and regional integration.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Asia
Other
Sector not specified

01.01.2013 - 31.12.2021


CHF 48'000'000



Rural Water Supply and Sanitation in the Ferghana Valley

boys washing their hands

01.01.2013 - 31.12.2019

Rural areas in Uzbekistan lack an adequate supply of clean water.  A large proportion of Uzbekistan's rural population of 10 million people suffer from diseases caused by unclean water. A project funded by the SDC is helping people in rural areas help themselves. Villagers are learning how to organise their water supply themselves.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Uzbekistan
Water
Drinking water and basic sanitation (WASH) (til 2016)
Water sector policy

01.01.2013 - 31.12.2019


CHF 6'157'000



Plannes Project: Promotion de la coopération transfrontalière locale

01.01.2013 - 31.12.2020

Jusqu’ici, l’UEMOA[1] a abordé l’intégration régionale par le haut, à travers les Etats. Les collectivités territoriales ne sont directement éligibles ni à ses allocations budgétaires[2], ni à ses programmes sectoriels. Le Conseil des Collectivités Territoriales (CCT) veut changer cette situation en initiant le PCTL qui donne aux élus locaux les ressources pour réaliser des projets transfrontaliers améliorant l’accès des populations aux services publics de base.  Il replace la décentralisation au cœur de l’intégration régionale et du développement socioéconomique.

[1] Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest-Africaine créée en 1994 et regroupant huit pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest.

[2] De 1996 à 2006, l’UEMOA a alloué aux pays CHF 270'000'000 au titre de compensations financières liées à l’intégration. Ces ressources sont destinées exclusivement aux Gouvernements.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
West Africa
Governance
Other
Decentralisation
Sector not specified
Public sector policy

01.01.2013 - 31.12.2020


CHF 8'187'500



Better quality of life for Roma communities in Bulgaria

Two girls dancing.

01.01.2013 - 30.11.2019

The Roma are the largest ethnic minority in Bulgaria. Many Roma suffer from social exclusion, discrimination, poverty and unemployment. Social, cultural and economic barriers hinder access to education and healthcare for members of the Roma community. With its contribution to the enlarged EU, Switzerland is supporting projects to improve the living conditions of the Roma in Bulgaria.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Bulgaria
Improving social security
Prevention
Various social services

01.01.2013 - 30.11.2019


CHF 6'695'773


Object 49 – 60 of 1102