SDC A&FS Network: Land Tenure

Secure Tenure and Access to Land

Context - Key Resources - Projects - Community - Archive


Secure tenure and access to land play a central role in the livelihoods of most of the world's 500 Mio smallholder farmers. It is fundamental in addressing global challenges like food insecurity, rural poverty, climate change, social and gender inequalities as well as peace building.
Today, conventional land administration systems in most developing countries are leaving up to 70% of citizens with informal or customary tenure arrangements. It is estimated that less than 20% of customary or community-based tenure systems are formally recognized. In certain countries, land acquisitions represent more than 15% of total agricultural land.
The Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa and the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure set regional and international standards for securing tenure rights and equitable access to land. Tenure and access to land is featured prominently in SDG targets 1.4 and 5.A.

SDC's Approach
The Dispatch on Switzerland's International Cooperation 2017-2020 considers access to land and secure tenure an essential condition for achieving SDG 2 and for reaching the SDC objective on sustainable improvement of agricultural production. Aligned to the above reference frameworks, SDC works on land governance in three ways:

  • At country level through projects that directly support improvements of land tenure regulations and administration systems.

  • At country and regional level as part of projects addressing agricultural, forestry, water or environmental challenges.

  • At global level by supporting the promotion and implementation of regional or international standards through multilateral organizations or international networks.

Key resources

Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT)
A wide range of specialized and technical information resources supporting the development and implementation of policies, research, advocacy efforts and capacity development.

Land Portal
A comprehensive online resource for information, data and knowledge-exchange on land governance issues.

International Land Coalition
ILC is a global alliance of civil society and intergovernmental organisations working together to put people at the centre of land governance.

Global Land Tool Network
GLTN is an alliance of international partners committed to increasing access to land and tenure security for all. It develops, disseminates and implements pro-poor and gender-responsive land tools.

Le portail Foncier et Développement
Le portail est animé par un ensemble d’organismes qui travaillent sur la question foncière et produisent, dans une logique de recherche ou une logique opérationnelle, des informations et analyses.

Land Matrix
The Land Matrix is a global and independent land monitoring initiative that promotes transparency and accountability in decisions over land and investment. The website is an open tool for collecting and visualising information.

Global Donor Working Group on Land
The Working Group aims to improve land governance and enhance transparency and coordination among its members (including SDC) and with external  stakeholders and it advocates the relevance of land issues in policy processes.

SDC - Gender and land governance
This guidance sheet supports SDC staff in ensuring that gender is taken into account in land governance activities. It outlines key issues and how these can be integrated in cooperation strategies and project interventions.

Realizing Women's Rights to Land and Other Productive Resources
This UN reportclarifies how women's rights to land and other productive resources are relevant to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Further resources


South Cooperation projects – targeting directly/primarily land governance

Mekong Region Land Governance Project (MRLG)
SDC East-Asia Division
Land governance is at the center of development challenges in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. The project aims to (i) assist the emergence of more favorable policies and practices for securing the rights and access of family farmers to land and natural resources; and (ii) to strengthen the effectiveness of concerned stakeholders through learning, alliance building and regional cooperation.
­SDC Project database
­Project website
Video documentary

Strengthening Land Governance - Myanmar
SDC East-Asia Division
This project addresses land issues from three different angles: 1) OneMap Myanmar that facilitates multi-stakeholder processes based on accurate land data; 2) the Land Core Group as THE voice of Civil Society in policy making around land; and 3) the Transnational Institute building the capacity and networks of ethnic civil society organisations for their effective participation in policy and peace processes.
SDC Project database

Advancing Land Use Rights - Mozambique
SDC Southern Africa, East and North Africa, Occupied Palestinian Territory Division
Approved in 2009, the Mozambican legislation on land, forestry and fauna is considered as one of the most progressive in terms of protection of the interests of the local communities. However more than 14 years after its approval, the rights of the communities are still precarious. SDC program aims at advancing the land use rights of the local communities as a necessary asset for a more sustainable economic development.
­SDC Project database

Appui à la gestion foncière - Burundi
SDC Southern Africa, East and North Africa, Occupied Palestinian Territory Division
Lancé depuis 2008 au Burundi et 2011 en RDC, le programme d’appui à la gestion foncière met le focus stratégique sur la sécurisation des droits en milieu rural ainsi que le développement et la mise en œuvre des politiques foncières en vue de garantir une meilleure gouvernance dans ce domaine et la réduction des conflits dans les communautés. Le focus portera sur le renforcement des services fonciers, la reconnaissance des droits sur les terres rurales et l’amélioration du cadre légal et politique.
­SDC Project database
Video: L’Engagement de la Coopération Suisse dans le Foncier au Burundi (en français)

South Cooperation projects – targeting indirectly land governance

Promoting the peaceful coexistence of farmers and pastoralists
SDC West Africa Division
Both sedentary farmers and pastoralists in Niger must be self-sufficient and able to earn a steady income. To make this goal a reality, the SDC has been involved in the "Programme d’appui au secteur de l’élévage" (PASEL; livestock farming support programme) since 1998. Together with local partners, the project has been promoting the peaceful coexistence of farmers and pastoralists. In the past, conflicts of interests led to sometimes violent confrontations.
SDC Project database

Programme de préservation et de valorisation de la biodiversité (PVB)- Haïti
SDC Latin America and Caribbean Division
Dans le Massif de la Selle – situé au sud-est d’Haïti – se trouve une des dernières forêts natives du pays. Malgré son statut d’Air protégées, la préservation de la Forêt des pins est menacée par l’installation autour et dans celle-ci de population à la recherche de revenus. Ainsi, le projet vise à renforcer l’Agence Nationale des Aires protégée du Ministère de l’Environnement dans ses efforts de prise en charge de la gestion participative de l’Aire protégée en incluant les acteurs locaux et en soutenant la population locale dans la création de revenus alternatifs.
­SDC Project database

Resilience for Pastoralist Communities in Northern Kenya
SDC Southern Africa, East and North Africa, Occupied Palestinian Territory Division
Pastoralism is a millennia old livelihood strategy adapted to the marginal and harsh environments of Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL). In order to support pastoralists, this programme contributes to strengthening public and private institutions in the water and livestock sectors, putting policy frameworks in place to ensure efficient county-wide and cross-border water and rangeland management systems, and to increase access to water and pasture.
SDC Project database

Community Driven Watershed Management for Climate Change Adaptation in Nicaragua
SDC  Latin America and Caribbean Division
Environmental degradation and climate change are reducing the capacity of the Dipilto River watershed to provide ecosystem services (water, forest) to the population, increasing their vulnerability and deepening poverty. The program strengthens the dialogue among stakeholders, empowers communities and provides economic incentives for restoring the hydrologic and environmental equilibrium of the watershed, increasing the resilience of its 27 thousand inhabitants.
SDC Project database

Global Cooperation projects – Global Programme Food Security

Responsible Governance of Land Tenure through Voluntary Guidelines (VGGT)
The Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT) are an international standard that promotes secure tenure rights and equitable access to land, fisheries and forests as a means of eradicating poverty. SDC supports a multi-donor programme of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) that assists a number of countries in West Africa and East Asia in the implementation and the integration of the VGGT into their legislation by providing technical and institutional support.
SDC Project database

International Land Coalition (ILC)
Through a core contribution to the International Land Coalition, SDC supports a global network of 207 members in 64 countries in which civil society, intergovernmental organisations and academic institutions interact to trigger changes in policies and practices at country level toward a land governance putting people at its centre. With a targeted additional support to the Land Matrix, SDC contributes to an independent monitoring initiative on large scale land deals, promoting transparency and accountability.
SDC Project database
Project website

IGAD Land Governance Programme
SDC supports the institutional capacities of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Secretariat to formulate a regional land governance policy framework in an inclusive and participatory bottom-up process.
SDC Project database

Land Governance in the Urban-Rural Nexus (Global Land Tool Network – GLTN)
Responsible land governance is a central element in the current process of rural transformation and urbanization in developing countries, but its complex relations to food security and fragility have not received sufficient attention. SDC supports the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN) in addressing these challenges through preparing pro-poor and gender-sensitive land tools to improve tenure security for urban and rural poor with a conflict-sensitive approach.
­SDC Project database
Project website

Improving Food Security and Land Governance through investment standards
Legal and policy frameworks for agricultural investments in developing countries need to be strengthened to direct foreign investment in agriculture and food systems towards sustainable development outcomes that benefit rural poor populations. The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) performs advisory, training and research activities targeting government negotiators in developing countries and African Parliamentarians with a view to supporting the application of the CFS-rai Principles.
SDC Project database
Project website


Global Donor Working Group on Land
The aim of the Global Donor Working Group on Land (hosted by the Global Donor Platform on Rural Development – GDPRD) is to strengthen land governance in line with the VGGT for all members of society, especially women and vulnerable groups, contributing to sustainable development and poverty eradication. Its collective efforts is achieved through advocacy, information exchange, and coordination.

HEKS/EPER Community of Practice: Land governance and climate crisis
This Community of Practice is launched by HEKS/EPER to discuss the interrelation between land governance and the climate and environmental crisis. It meets approx. every 3-4 months in an online forum, to discuss open questions and to share experiences and good practice examples. If interested, please contact:

Learning Journey
In 2016 the SDC Networks Agriculture & Food Security (A&FS) and Democratisation, Decentralisation and Local Governance (DDLGN) organised a learning journey in land governance. The highlight of this process was the F2F Meeting "Inclusive Land Governance - Road to a better life” held from 5-9 September 2016 in Sursee, Switzerland.


F2F Meeting on Land Governance - Inclusive Land Governance - Road to a better life
A+FS Network, September 2016

Land Governance – A Positioning of Terms
SDC, September 2012, not updated

Land Governance in SDC Projects
CDE, September 2012

SDC Projects and FAO Guidelines
CDE, 2012

SDC e-discussion on land governance
15-28 March 2010