Honoring Anniversary of Indian Ocean Tsunami with Lessons Learned

This week in Jakarta, Indonesia, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO) will hold a conference on the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System 10 years after the Indian Ocean Tsunami: Achievements, Challenges, Remaining Gaps and Policy Perspectives. This gathering provides an opportunity to discuss the policy and programming challenges related to disaster risk reduction. Weak land governance and insecure land tenure needs to be a part of this important discussion.

One of the keys to building more resilient communities – both pre-disaster and during post-disaster relief, recovery, and reconstruction – is secure land tenure and property rights. Land tenure considerations are often missing from current humanitarian response efforts, as highlighted in the USAID’s recently published Land Tenure & Disasters issue brief. The brief considers experts’ predictions that climate change will make disasters more frequent and more damaging, and recommends changes for both humanitarian response efforts and mitigation through DRR.
Some of the key recommendations include:

  • Recognize a continuum of land tenure arrangements that exist in practice prior to a disaster;
  • Document, register, survey, and protect land records to strengthen the land rights of vulnerable groups including women, youth, migrants, and the poor. This can be done through community-led enumerations/mapping;
  • Support participatory enumeration exercises to document local land tenure practices that give community members “secure enough” tenure. Involve community groups in decisions about designating areas as unsuitable for habitation;
  • To address land claims, consult with the community, relevant customary authorities, and formal land administration agencies and, as needed, support accessible dispute resolution mechanisms;
  • Be aware of to power relations within communities and between communities and government agencies; and
  • Strengthen the technical and managerial capacity of institutions that govern land use and property rights through disaster risk reduction efforts.

For detailed guidance, the issue brief lists existing manuals that show how to address land tenure and property rights challenges in both disaster risk reduction interventions and in post-disaster relief, recovery, and reconstruction.

Download the Land Tenure & Disasters issue brief.