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 61 – 72 of 1100

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
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
Basic drinking water supply and basic sanitation
Water sector policy and administrative management
Water sector policy and administrative management

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
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Unallocated / Unspecified
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)
Sectors not specified
Public sector policy and administrative management

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



Programme d’appui aux communes urbaines du Mali (PACUM)

01.01.2012 - 31.12.2019

Un des enjeux de la reconstruction du Mali se trouve dans la promotion de villes secondaires délivrant des services de base aux populations et redevables devant leurs citoyens. C’est l’objet de ce programme financé par la Banque Mondiale à hauteur de CHF 65’000'000. Sollicitée pour son savoir-faire en matière de développement local, la DDC apporte une contribution de CHF 18'200'000 (21% coût global) pour structurer la gouvernance à la base et soutenir les dotations d’investissement pour les villes de Koutiala et Tombouctou.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Mali
Agriculture & food security
Governance
Education
Rural infrastructure (till 2016)
Decentralisation
Public sector policy
Primary education
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
TRANSPORT AND STORAGE
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
TRANSPORT AND STORAGE
EDUCATION
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)
Transport policy and administrative management
Public sector policy and administrative management
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)
Transport policy and administrative management
Primary education

01.01.2012 - 31.12.2019


CHF 18'220'000



Better Planning for Albania's Government

Meeting of the Government of Albania.

01.01.2012 - 31.12.2020

Albania’s economy, public finance, and debt remain areas of concern as the government tries to keep positive growth and stability in a challenging context. Although capacities for policy and financial planning have improved, there still is a need for better performance, monitoring and integrated planning. Since 2005 a group of donors including Switzerland introduced the Integrated Planning System, a tool that aids the government in strategy planning while observing budget constraints.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Albania
Governance
Decentralisation
Public finance management
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Public finance management
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)
Public finance management

01.01.2012 - 31.12.2020


CHF 1'375'000



Exchanging knowledge and experience to protect Andean forest ecosystems

Part of the Andean forest covered in mist.

01.11.2011 - 31.12.2019

The forests of the Andes are valuable in a variety of ways: they store and purify water, provide protection against natural hazards, and absorb environmentally harmful greenhouse gases. With the ANFOR project, the SDC is contributing to the long-term protection of Andean forests.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Andean Region
Climate change and environment
Environmental policy
Forestry policy
Biosphere protection
Biodiversity
AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY, FISHING
GENERAL ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION
AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY, FISHING
GENERAL ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION
GENERAL ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION
Forestry development
Environmental policy and administrative management
Forestry policy
Environmental policy and administrative management
Biosphere protection
Biosphere protection
Bio-diversity

01.11.2011 - 31.12.2019


CHF 8'072'000



Swiss Bluetec Bridge: Swiss start-ups benefit disadvantaged populations

01.04.2011 - 31.12.2020

The challenges involving water are creating opportunities for cutting-edgetechnological innovation. The SDC's Swiss Bluetec Bridge initiative supports these innovations to improve access to water for the poorest populations. The first start-up to benefit from a loan is the start-up company “Swiss Fresh Water” which has developed a low-cost system fordesalinating salty or brackish water.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Global
Water
Drinking water and basic sanitation (WASH) (til 2016)
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
Basic drinking water supply and basic sanitation

01.04.2011 - 31.12.2020


CHF 2'050'000



A vocational education and training fund for disadvantaged people in Nepal

 Eine junge nepalesische Frau arbeitet an einem Sicherungskasten.

01.01.2011 - 30.06.2020

The SDC established the Nepal Employment Fund together with the Government of Nepal and other partners to create training opportunities for young and disadvantaged people.  Training institutions fund the courses and the fund reimburses them if those receiving training find a job with a satisfactory income.  

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Nepal
Vocational training
Employment & economic development
Vocational training
Employment creation
SME development
EDUCATION
OTHER SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND SERVICES
INDUSTRY
Vocational training
Employment policy and administrative management
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) development

01.01.2011 - 30.06.2020


CHF 5'996'665



Participation active des citoyennes et citoyens tunisiens – PACT

01.01.2026 - 31.12.2028

La Suisse veut contribuer à la transition démocratique de la Tunisie suite à la révolution de 2011. Cette transition passe par une participation accrue des citoyens, en particulier des jeunes, dans la gestion des affaires publiques à travers la mise en place de mécanismes de participation inclusive. La Suisse entend promouvoir des initiatives citoyennes faisant la promotion d’une culture de redevabilité des acteurs politiques auprès des communautés tout en formant les nouveaux élus locaux dans le cadre de la décentralisation.


Contribution au programme santé de mediCuba-Suiza (mCS)

01.09.2025 - 31.08.2027

Après plusieurs années de soutien sporadiques, la coopération suisse propose de renouveler un soutien programme à l’association suisse mediCuba-Suiza (mCS). Cette dernière collabore avec plusieurs institutions publiques de premier plan, et favorise les échanges techniques entre professionnels de la santé en leur permettant un accès aux technologies et méthodes de traitement modernes. mCS  contribue ainsi à la couverture universelle des services de santé.


Youth-Inclusive Rural Finance (YIRF)

15.09.2024 - 14.09.2028

Millions of Tanzanian young people living in rural areas, in particular young women, are affected by vulnerable employment. Building on successful Swiss experience in youth employment, this initiative aims at increasing gainful self-employment through enhanced financial inclusion. It will support the design, market entrance and upscaling of innovative digital financial products and services tailored to rural youth, including female youth. In order to ensure scale and sustainability, a partnership with the private sector will be developed.


UN Joint Programme on Youth Employment

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2028

Cambodia is the most youthful country in South East Asia with more than 50% of the population below 25 years. The key challenge of Cambodia is to create decent and productive employment opportunities for new entrants to the labour market. With its contribution, SDC addresses the challenge by enabling young people to have access to skills and quality education and employment whilst promoting rightful and decent working conditions.

Object 61 – 72 of 1100