Date: April 17, 2017 - December 31, 2017
Implementer: HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation Mali
Funding Amount: $49,338
In 2017, the Mali Minister of State Lands and Land Affairs launched a property and land policy reform process parallel to the ongoing agricultural land reform process. Unfortunately, when it was unveiled, the government’s policy adoption process did not include a participatory process of consultation with local communities or robust analysis ensuring respect for community land rights. HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation Mali and the Advocacy Network for Securing Agricultural Land Rights (RP SéFA) identified a prime opportunity to engage in the creation of this new policy; at the same time, they saw a significant risk to communities’ customary rights if the policy was written and adopted without local communities’ input.
Knowing that the stakes were high, HELVETAS Mali and RP SéFA conducted an analysis of the proposed property and land reform policy, and led a nationwide effort to consult communities about the new policy, garner their feedback, and, lastly, to work for the inclusion of their feedback in the land reform process and eventual policy. They held workshops in five different regions in Mali, gathered the insights and recommendations of those who participated, and synthesized the recommendations and concerns into a Memorandum. The Memorandum highlighted the increasing prevalence of land speculation, land grabs by big business and Malian elites; moreover, it recognized that, without a pro-community national land policy, there his high risk of conflict over land rights. Furthermore, it advanced the argument that securing customary land rights for local communities through the new land policy would bolster the goals of the 2015 Mali Peace Agreement by promoting stability related to land and natural resource rights.
When the Memorandum was finalized, HELVETAS-Mali and RP-SéFA facilitated a national-level workshop to highlight the results of the regional consultations. Furthermore, they conducted nationwide advocacy around the Memorandum, targeting politicians, civil society, and the media in the Fall of 2017. Each regional consultation had been covered by local TV, and this added momentum to the overall advocacy and coverage around the property and land policy. Following the final workshop in October 2017, HELVETAS-Mali and RP-SéFA sent the Memorandum to the Minister of State Lands and Land Affairs. They were notified that the Ministry is interested the findings of their consultations. Unfortunately, with the change of government in Mali on December 31, 2017, the Ministry of State Lands and Land Affairs was abolished, and these responsibilities have been transferred to the Ministry of Finance. This means that the reform process is ongoing, however, the National Land Policy adoption process is stalled.
Despite the current delay, by seizing this unique opportunity to contribute to the creation of a new policy, HELVETAS-Mali and RP-SéFA have laid the groundwork for future advocacy when the discussion resurfaces.
Download the project’s resulting memorandum, “Memorandum from civil society and local communities on the National Property and Land Policy in Mali,” here.
For more information, see the following news articles in French:
Date: October 1, 2017 - March 31, 2018
Implementer: Yayasan Hutanriau, Indonesia
Funding Amount: $9,900
The SRM activity, approved in October 2017, strategically responds to an immediate and sustained threat to adat and local communities’ traditional lands and forest, and rich biodiversity posed by the expansion of palm oil in Riau Province on Sumatra within the Bukit Batabuh Forest Reserve. Riau Province is home to over 24 percent of Indonesia’s palm oil plantations, and is also the same area that is home to the Sumatran tiger which is currently listed as critically endangered. In Indonesia, during a period of 15 years (2000-2015) there has been an estimated 55 percent of forest loss from within concession areas, and an estimated total loss of more than 6.7 million hectares within and outside of concession areas. Indonesia has been losing its forests at a rapid rate for decades, and in turn, adat and local communities have been losing their livelihoods and their traditional lands and forests, as well as the wildlife and plant diversity that has been sustained by the primary forests.
RRI support will provide the necessary resources to support the mapping of the management area with Bukit Betabuh in order to complete the main stage in obtaining the Social Forestry permit from the local administration, while simultaneously developing sustainable crop commodity plans for the jernang that will create an initial border around the community forest land. The proposed activity will help empower the communities with the Bukit Betabuh Forest Reserve and train the communities in the titling processes involved in Social Forest permits. These activities combined will not only create income-generating activities for the Air Buluh community, but it will allow them to have rights over their forestlands and help preserve the pristine tiger ecosystem.
The SRM proposes to provide support to the Air Buluh community and the Bukit Betabuh Forest Reserve who have been the custodians of the lush forest – and home of the critically endangered tiger – for centuries, to enable them to have secure rights over their forests, to create sustainable forest enterprise by developing a community-led forest based enterprise model unique to a protected area and to set an example of community resistance to both Government and private sector encroachment on their land.
Date: September 2016 - February 10, 2017
Implementer: Center for the Support of Sustainable Tropical Forest Management (CAGDFT)
Funding Amount: $78,235
Centre D’Appui à la Gestion Durable des Fôrets Tropicales (Center for the Support of Sustainable Tropical Forest Management, or CAGDFT), in partnership with Réseau CREF and FODI, undertook a project aimed at identifying and using tools to implement community forestry, coupled with an educational campaign to raise awareness about these issues in the provinces of Nord-Kivu and Equateur. They conducted trainings with Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and local and provincial authorities around the provisions for Local Community Forest Concessions (LCFC) stemming from Decree 14/018 and Ministerial Order 025. The LCFC are plots of land granted to communities by the government, to be owned and managed by the local communities and Indigenous Peoples who receive the titles. Under each LCFC granted by the provincial government, concessions are allocated in perpetuity to the local communities and Indigenous Peoples, so long as the title holders respect the rules governing sustainable management. Through this SRM, CAGDFT, Reseau CREF, and FODI were able to support four communities in their applications for the LCFC, potentially securing 174,000 hectares of forest. During the project, CAGDFT identified several opportunities to develop and extend the project to more provinces in the DRC, and the initial projects in North Kivu and Equateur will serve as models for future work to secure community forests.
Read about this project in our blog post, “An unprecedented community forestry initiative in DRC.”
Date: Ended February 2017
Implementer: Inclusive Development International (IDI)
Funding Amount: $27,560
Inclusive Development International, with support from SRM, continued its support to fourteen Cambodian villages, containing some 15,000 people, whose land and forest rights have been violated by one of Vietnam’s largest companies. The company, Hoang Anh Gia Lai, was granted almost 50,000ha of land for rubber plantations over large swathes of Ratanakiri province, which overlapped considerably with the ancestral lands of the Kachok, Tampuon, Jarai and Kreung indigenous communities. As the company began developing its plantations, the communities lost residential, farming and forestland as well as many scared areas.
In 2014, IDI supported the communities to file a complaint to the International Finance Corporation’s CAO, an independent accountability mechanism. The company and communities agreed to try to resolve the issues through CAO- facilitated mediations. In a major breakthrough in 2015, the company agreed to refrain form any further development of its plantations and to return remaining land, reducing their total concession area to under 14,000ha. It also agreed to a joint-mapping exercise with the company and government to determine which areas of additional land it should return or compensate for.
With support from SRM, IDI and local partners assisted the community in preparing for and participating in the joint mapping exercise, and pushing for recognition of their claims in the mediations. This included training and workshops on tenure options, customary land registration, GIS mapping exercises, and a valuation of losses, among other activities. As a result, the company has now agreed to return further significant tracts of land, including 20 spirit mountains and other areas with spiritual and traditional value to affected villagers. The mediations are ongoing.
Date: August 2017 - February 2018
Implementer: Innovation et Formation pour le Développement et la Paix (IFDP)
Funding Amount: $45,022
This SRM was approved in August 2017. Its objective is to create a provincial legal framework to secure community land rights, especially the rights of women and Indigenous Peoples, which will reduce land-related conflict in South Kivu.
To date, IFDP has held 15 consultations in South Kivu with 378 participants. Photos from several consultations are available below, courtesy of IFDP:
Date: August - October 2017
Implementer: Green Advocates
Funding Amount: $9,577
This SRM was approved in late August 2017, and aims to ensure that a pro-community Land Rights Act (LRA) aligned with the letter and spirit of the Land Rights Policy is passed in Liberia.
Date: August 2017 - March 2018
Implementer: Yayasan Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Indonesia (LBH). LBH is a member of AMAN
Funding Amount: $59,718
This SRM was approved in August 2017 and is on its beginning stages of implementation. It is a test case to illustrate whether rule of law and respect for Indigenous rights would prevail over industrial and a critical effort to overcome a culture of impunity and to make the Company as well as the Governor of Java accountable to law, including the laws protecting Indigenous rights.
Date: 2017 (contract end date extended to 30 November)
Country: Regional (Africa)
Implementer: Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR)
Funding Amount: $9,900
This SRM aims to facilitate the final adoption by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) of a General Comment on land and property to the Maputo Protocol on Women’s Rights in 2017 by supporting a convening of key partners and Commissioners to finalize and agree upon the text.
Date: June - December 2017
Implementer: Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)
Funding Amount: $9,800
This SRM was approved in late June 2017. Its objective is to protect land and forest rights of Cambodia’s Kui Indigenous communities affected by 36,000 hectares of Economic Land Concessions (ELCs) granted to sugarcane plantation companies in Preah Vihear. An update on progress will be provided in December 2017.
Date: 2017 (to end on 31 December)
Region: Latin America
Implementer: Coordinadora de las Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica (COICA)
Funding Amount: $86,064
A description of this SRM is currently in the works.
Date: 2017 (to end on 31 October)
Implementer: HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation Mali (HELVETAS)
Funding Amount: $49,338
This SRM was approved in April 2017, and aims to support the socialization of Mali’s National Land Policy, ensuring both an improved participatory process for its development and improved content that better addresses the needs, expectations and vision of local communities in Mali’s five regions.
Date: 2017 (ended 30 May)
Region: Latin America
Implementer: Instituto Socioambiental (ISA)
Funding Amount: $38,213
The activity supported via this SRM approved in April 2017 has been very successful. In light of the proposed Constitutional amendment and legislative reforms that could affect historical gains on collective tenure rights, 3,200 Indigenous leaders assembled in the Brazilian capital as part of the Free Land Camp mobilization to advocate for the respect of the territorial rights. Some highlights include:
- Participants conducted a well-publicized march to Congress to present their demands.
- Indigenous leaders were also able to meet with the president of the House of Representatives who promised to take their needs into account as Congress debates Constitutional and policy reforms.
- Indigenous peoples organized committees to follow up negotiation with the government in the coming weeks.
In addition to successfully elevating Indigenous Peoples concerns with respect to their rights, the event strengthened the relationships between RRI’s affiliated networks AMPB, COICA, AMAN and the Brazilian indigenous organization AIPB, all of whom have agreed:
- to integrating their advocacy efforts into the international movement for collective rights.
- on a common messaging strategy, and to hold a panel on “Indigenous Peoples’ Access to Climate Change Funds” at COP 23 to demonstrate that international grants are not reaching Indigenous communities.
Finally, the event opened avenues for further collaboration with indigenous and women’s organizations in Brazil and work with new Partner ISA to conduct legal analyses and map indigenous territories.
Please find below clips related to the event:
Date: October 2016 – April 2017
Implementer: HuMA & Epistema Institute
Funding Amount: $49,479
This SRM has catalyzed the first instance where communities of Indigenous Peoples in Indonesia have received formal titles over their customary (adat) forests. This success follows a 2013 constitutional court decision driven by AMAN that recognized adat forests as separate from state forests, as well as the election of President Jokowi in 2014, after which new commitments were made to recognize the land and forest rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Over a 3-month period, RRI Collaborators HuMA and Epistema Institute coordinated advocacy efforts with AMAN, helping to achieve formal titles for 9 indigenous communities over 13,000 hectares of forest lands on December 30, 2016. President Jokowi personally handed out the titles.
This success has set a precedent for further recognition of the rights of Indigenous Peoples communities across Indonesia.
Date: May – December 2016 (to be extended)
Funding Amount: $49,900
In response to the state government of Gujurat, India, announcing it’s willingness to back titling for pastoral communities in the Banni region, 47 communities worked with RRI Collaborator Sahjeevan to secure formal titles for 2,500 square kilometers of grazing lands using India’s landmark Forest Rights Act. With Sahjeevan’s assistance, over 40 communities are planning how they will systematically regenerate grasslands, protect wildlife and biodiversity, remove invasive species, and protect and promote viable livelihoods for community members. Regeneration efforts have begun in four pilot plots, while advocacy campaigns continue, despite significant political shifts.
Date: April – December 2016
Implementer: ILEPA (Indigenous Livelihoods Enhancement Partners)
Funding Amount: $24,550
The SRM played an instrumental role in enabling ILEPA to quickly secure land rights over 700 acres for an indigenous pastoralist community. Following ILEPA’s advocacy efforts and a series of community consultations, the National Land Commission and Ministry of Lands halted the illegal acquisition of land on the Maji Moto Group Ranch, returning land titles to their rightful owners.
Group Ranch officials who had engaged in the illegal land acquisition have been suspended, and a peaceful change of leadership is underway. Accused Ranch officials have surrendered their titles to at least 700 acres of land. This has had significant impact on communities’ livelihoods: the suspended Ranch chairman surrendered 3 title deeds to 200 acres of public utility land, including a school, commercial center, and water point.
This move effectively ensured access to education for future generations of the Group Ranch, and set a national precedent for the Land Commission to defend the collective rights of pastoralist communities.
Date: March – December 2016
Region: Latin America
Implementer: Forest Peoples Programme
Funding Amount: $100,000
With this SRM, the Peruvian Indigenous Peoples community Santa Clara de Uchunya defended its traditional lands in the Amazon against the immediate threat of land grabbing and deforestation by Plantaciones de Pucallpa, a company within the Melka Group. Complaints were submitted to the RSPO, and both the Peruvian government and the RSPO ordered the company to stop operations, which it eventually did.
The actions of the project proponents have led to the delisting of the stock of United Cacao Limited SEZC, another company within the Melka Group operating in Peru, in the London Stock Exchange as well as the Lima Stock Exchange. Dennis Melka, the managing director of United Cacao Ltd SEZC, has resigned, and the company announced that it would be reducing its staff at the plantation in an effort to keep it in business.
Santa Clara de Uchunya has become an emblematic community in the struggle of indigenous communities against the increasing expansion of palm oil in Peru, and across the world. This case has also contributed to the formal request for titling of additional Santa Clara lands.
Date: September – November 2016
Implementer: HAK Foundation
Funding Amount: $54,868
Criminalization persists as a major challenge facing indigenous communities in Indonesia. To address the issue, HAK Foundation capitalized on a newly opened dialogue between Indonesian civil society and security forces by conducting trainings in 3 provinces for over 40 members of police and security agencies on human rights, alternative dispute resolution, and the legitimate claims of communities over their lands and natural resources. These efforts were the first of their kind and uniquely engaged security units on how they interact with local communities. After these trainings, police leadership requested an expansion of the program to other provinces prone to conflict.
Date: April – November 2016
Implementer: Ekuri Initiative
Funding Amount: $52,000
The Ekuri community in Nigeria, with support from the SRM, successfully campaigned to protect over 180 forest communities in Cross River State from the construction of a highway that would cut through their lands and forests. In February 2017, Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State reversed the former notice, issued in January 2016, on the government acquisition of 10 kilometers of land on either side of the 206-kilometer superhighway.
Through this SRM, the Ekuri Initiative catalyzed national and international pressure to challenge the Cross River State government with unprecedented mobilization of forest communities and Nigerian CSOs, which included rights trainings of women and youth, non-violent protests, media engagement, awareness campaigns, and a petition with over 250,000 signatures. Though the notice has been reversed, the government remains committed to constructing the superhighway despite the implications for other forest communities.