Conference Agenda

Session Overview
08-06: The political economy of land tenure reform
Wednesday, 27/Mar/2019:
3:45pm - 5:15pm

Session Chair: Caleb Stevens, USAID, United States of America
Location: MC 6-100


State of land in the Mekong region

Micah Ingalls1, Jean-Christophe Diepart2, Nhu Truong3, Daniel Hayward4, Tony Neil5, Chanthavone Phomphakdy1, Rasso Bernhard1, Sinu Fogarizzu1, Michael Epprecht1, Vong Nanhthavong1, Dang Hung Vo6, Dzung Nguyen7, Phong Nguyen8, Thatheva Saphangthong9, Chanthaviphone Inthavong10, Cornelia Hett1, Nicholas Tagliarino11

1University of Bern, Lao PDR; 2Mekong Region Land Governance Project, Lao PDR; 3McGill University, Canada; 4Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development, Thailand; 5Independent; 6Hanoi University, Vietnam; 7World Bank, Vietnam; 8Institute for Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam; 9Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Lao PDR; 10Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Lao PDR; 11UN Habitat, The Netherlands

The Mekong region—comprised of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam—is exceptional for its social and ecological richness. Over the last decade, the region has undergone rapid transformation in land and its agricultural sector. Key data and information to inform effective decision-making necessary to understand and navigate this transformation are limited. The State of Land in the Mekong Region seeks address this gap by presenting key data and information with regard to status and change in socioeconomic conditions of agriculture and the rural population, the land resource base upon which this population depends, and the ways in which land resources are distributed across society. We evaluate tenure security and governance conditions that shape rural land relations, and assess the ways in which large-scale land acquisitions, the trade in land-intensive commodities, and regional and global investment flows articular with sustainable development in the Mekong region.


New innovations-old problems: the case of the flexible land tenure system and communal land registration in Namibia

Charl-Thom Hilgardt Bayer

Namibia University of Science and Technology, Namibia

The development of new institutional innovations in Namibia to improve tenure security for informal settlement residents as well as communal land residents has been fraught with problems and has not had the expected impact. It is argued that this is due to the fact that these innovations are not sufficiently embedded in the registration functions, or society, but are driven from the top. Instead the FLTS and the NCLAS have created an innovation architecture that is parralel to the existing systems, rather than building on the current parcel registration system. The research concludes that innovations that are incremental in nature, and that is embedded on the functions it serves to improve upon, is more likely to succeed. Such an approach is more likely to gain support with the private sector to help establish a land market and leverage investment in land and agriculture.


"A limited contribution to a complex development problem"? Land titling and land tenure in the Mekong region

Michael Dwyer2, Naomi Basik Treanor1, Phuc Xuan To1,3, Quang Nguyen1, Sophal Chan4, Kevin Woods1, Thoumthone Vongvisouk5, Jean-Christophe Diepart6

1Forest Trends, United States of America; 2University of Colorado, United States of America; 3Australian National University, Australia; 4Centre for Policy Studies, Cambodia; 5National University of Laos, Lao PDR; 6Mekong Regional Land Governance Project, Lao PDR

Using a comparative analysis of agribusiness models and associated land tenure in the Mekong region, this paper speaks to current debates about land titling in the Mekong region (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam) and elsewhere. Over the past three years, we examined cases in these four countries in which titling and other property formalization intersected with land-based investments. We found that while formalization fundamentally changes how smallholders fare in the face of agricultural expansion, the details depend heavily on a range of other contextual factors. Specifically, we argue that that: 1) titling can enhance security, but can just as easily undermine it; 2) titling should prioritize rural livelihoods and the needs of marginalized groups; 3) titling is a “modular” process that should be tailored to design socially optimal forms of recognition; and, 4) better regulation of land investment is badly needed to complement existing and future titling initiatives.


What policy lessons can we learn from stalled land reforms? Insights from Senegal

Marie Gagne1, Cheikh Oumar Ba2, Ibrahima Ka2

1University of Toronto, Canada; 2Initiative Prospective Agricole et Rurale (IPAR), Senegal

In the last 20 years, the Senegalese government started a land reform process on three occasions but interrupted it each time. What does this pattern of stalled land reforms reveal about state-society relations in Senegal? What policy lessons can we draw from these inconclusive efforts? In this paper, we identify the constellations of actors and interests that have led the Senegalese government to shelve land reform proposals, with a focus on the latest attempt started in 2012. We argue that the reasons explaining the reluctance of the Senegalese state to bring successive land reforms to completion oscillate between avoidance in the face of a strong civil society and strategic accommodation to the status quo through piecemeal, incremental changes to the current legal system. Our findings are based on a careful analysis of institutional documents, interviews with experts, and participant observations in meetings of the 2012 National Commission on Land Reform.