Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG)

Project completed
Rice farmer preparing his paddy for the planting season, Lao PDR. © Touravanh/SDC.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has been supporting the Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) project in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) since April 2014.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Agriculture & food security
Agricultural policy
Legal and judicial development
Democratic participation and civil society
01.05.2013 - 31.12.2018
CHF  13’350’000

Since around 2000, governments in the Mekong Region began granting large-scale and long-term land concessions of agricultural and forest land to international and domestic investors, mostly for industrial agriculture, logging, mining, and hydropower. This has resulted in a significant shrinking of the area available for family agriculture and community forestry, and reduced access to natural resources that used to contribute to food security. The situation for family farmers is made even more difficult by the loss of land tenure and use rights, environmental degradation, resettlement, and limited prospects of finding alternative employment.

The various stakeholders and their competing interests make land governance a highly sensitive and politically important topic that is at the very center of development challenges in the Mekong region.

The “people to land” relationship in the Mekong region is such that land is seen as more than just the basis for livelihood. It is also essential for peoples’ social and cultural identity and even their sense of self-worth. Ultimately, the good governance of land is a precondition for social harmony and political stability.


The project’s overall goal is to contribute to family farmers in the Mekong region to have more secure tenure (ownership and access) over land, by:

  • strengthening the effectiveness of a wide range of stakeholders to participate in land-related reform processes, through learning and regional cooperation,
  • supporting the emergence of more favorable policies and practices.

To reach these goals the project:

  • makes available reliable information and analyses on land tenure and good practices to the stakeholders working in this area,
  • supports specific projects and initiatives, for example ongoing government policy processes or learning processes, through three facilities: “learning and alliance building”, the “Quick Disbursement Fund” and the “Innovation Fund”,
  • supports the establishment of regional networks for capacity development, cross-border learning and multi-stakeholder cooperation.

Expected results:  

The MLRG “Innovation Fund” (IF) provides medium term funding allowing reform actors to pilot improved tenure policy and practices, e.g. based on knowledge acquired through the learning activities.

The 1st and 2nd Calls for Proposals were met with an exceptional response on both occasions in May 2015 and 2016. Up to 25 projects are expected to be funded from November 2015 onwards, across all four CLMV countries.

The project design provides flexibility for partnership and alliance with other donors. Thus Germany joined with financial and technical contributions as per since May 2015, and the government of Luxembourg joins in September 2016 as a co-donor.

The project has created a substantial level of awareness among a wide variety of  stakeholders in the region and within a short period of time, and is expected to gain further momentum over the next years.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
International or foreign NGO
Foreign state institution
  • National State Institute North
  • LEI (Land Equity International) & GRET (Professionals for Fair Development)

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    13’350’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    13’143’166
Project phases Phase 2 01.07.2018 - 31.12.2022   (Completed)

Phase 1 01.05.2013 - 31.12.2018   (Completed)