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Farmer harvesting in DR Congo

Land rights: vital to ensuring strong and peaceful communities

In many of the countries where ZOA works, tenure security is fragile and land is an issue of conflict. Where rights are unclear, people may be at risk of losing their homes and livelihoods.

tenure security 

Land rights: crucial to peace

In the aftermath of conflict, land rights can easily become contentious.  Lacking land security prevents people from investing in their land, it leaves agricultural land unused and creates situations in which people are dispossessed by powerful actors. ZOA is committed to improving land security by resolving land conflicts, documenting land use or registering rights. 

We believe that land rights are crucial to peace. Our work on land rights therefore links directly to the pillars of our peacebuilding work. However, land rights are also related to food security, livelihoods, and shelter projects. Secure access to land, for housing, farming and other purposes is a precondition for sustainable development. It is therefore essential for contributing to peaceful and stable communities: the primary objective of our work.

Woman with children in Burundi
David Betge

David Betge, Land Rights Specialist

Protecting farmers’ land rights is essential to food security. Globally, this issue has an enormous impact - especially on women farmers. We have to tackle this to get to sustainable peace.

Legitimacy is crucial

Guaranteed land security 

In our work, we partner with governments and local communities. True tenure security can only be achieved if rights are not only perceived as secure but also guaranteed by a third party with the power to enforce legitimate rights or protected by a strong collective (e.g. in a customary setting). Strong communities, which are united and able to manage internal conflicts, will be able to protect collective and individual rights. 

Land and tenure issues are increasingly placed on the global agenda because of their fundamental role in development and peacebuilding. Land rights are for example focused on in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 1.4, 2.3 and 5.a), the Dutch Policy on Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade and in many international development frameworks.  

Working together

Partners and networks

We are adapting our responses to the local context, the needs and opportunities we identify and work with strong, experienced partners. 

ZOA has a strategic partnership agreement with the Cadasta Foundation strengthening our technical capacities and  flexibility. We also cooperate with various other actors such as MiParec the Ministry for Peace under the Cross for conflict mediation in Burundi and the German GIZ to support land rights in refugee settings in Uganda. We participate in the Dutch LandAc and the annual World Bank Land and Poverty Conference. We are involved in the network of the Knowledge Platform Security and Rule of Law and received funding for developing our land rights guidelines by the Knowledge Management Fund