Improved Land Management in the Mekong Region 2

Project description

Title: Improved Land Management in the Mekong Region 2
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Countries: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam
Overall term: 2015 to 2022



Rapid socio-economic changes in the Mekong region in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam (CLMV) have caused an increase in the need for land for infrastructure, agribusinesses and other development purposes. Across the region, the livelihoods of many smallholder farmers have been affected by investments that reduced their access to land and other natural resources on which they depend without offering them equivalent alternatives.

Land expropriation is becoming a driving factor of recent poverty and food insecurity, as largescale concessions have reduced the land area available for family agriculture as well as the access to forests by communities. This primarily affects farmers in remote areas, who have little to no documentation of their customary land tenure and practices. The government has been developing various policies for managing investments related to land expropriation, compensation, concession granting, and conflict resolution. The implementation of these policies has been challenging and there is a variety of positive and negative experiences that can be drawn from different countries to help policy makers respond to these challenges.

These challenges and opportunities which are affecting the land tenure security of smallholders and especially ethnic minorities are addressed by the second phase of the “Improved Land Management in the Mekong Region” (ILM-MR 2). 


Smallholder farmers have secure and equitable access to and control over agricultural land and forests in the Mekong Region.



This project is a contribution to the Mekong Region Land Governance Project (MRLG). MRLG is jointly funded by the Government of Switzerland, through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) with additional co-financing from the Government of Luxembourg and Germany.

MRLG aims to contribute to improvements in policies and practices regarding land tenure security for family farmers. These policy recommendations will be developed by alliances of reform actors (influential stakeholders) in each country and also regionally. 

These alliances follow an agreed regional or national-level work stream facilitating improvements towards policy and practices across two thematic areas:

  • Customary Tenure;
  • Responsible Agricultural Investment,

Additionally, Land Rights Awareness and Land Conflict Transformation are cross cutting thematic areas.

In most cases, influencing policy will focus on improving laws, implementation decrees and regulatory mechanisms. In cases where there is a disconnect between policy and effective implementation in the field, practice influencing will focus on improving the effective implementation of the policy at the local administration level and strengthening of communities so that they can know and defend their rights.

Through the project, MRLG aligns with the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT). The VGGT recommend the recognition and protection of customary tenure rights by governments and companies, and the use of principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) in all investments. Additionally, MRLG will develop alliances and collaborative work arrangements with regional partners and national partners.



During the first phase of MRLG the following results were achieved:

  • A growing network of more than 110 organisations from government, civil society, academia and private sector across the Mekong Region has been actively engaged with MRLG in collective learning activities aimed at equitable and secure access to land and natural resources for family farmers.
  • Networking and learning exchanges have been facilitated through 11 country-level and six regional-level multi-stakeholder consultation events that brought together over 1,400 representatives across more than 200 organisations, agencies and projects in the Mekong region.
  • The project funded 42 grant projects and coordinated 20 learning and alliance-building initiatives to address key thematic areas that enable and support reform actors to bring about change in land governance policies and practices.          

The second phase of the project began in April 2019, and will build upon the results of the first stage.

MRLG will continue to produce policy analyses, focus on strategic development and knowledge management in order to achieve its key results. The production of evidence-based policy recommendations for policy decision makers and lessons learned products will be consolidated and disseminated to target audiences throughout the duration of the project. A gender analysis was undertaken to inform the project on the integration of gender and vulnerable group issues related to project activities.

The project is a contribution to the overarching Mekong Region Land Governance Project (MRLG). All achievements of the MRLG project are the result of a coordinated and combined effort of all donors and implementers involved.

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