Historically in Burma, limited communication has occured between community members and local land administration authorities. This has fostered distrust by citizens and a lack of responsiveness from local land authorities. USAID works with both groups as part of participatory mapping activities in the Yway Gone Village Tract to demonstrate models for resolving land disputes and promoting coordination in sustainable land management.
After several months of community engagement, USAID’s local partner facilitated a stakeholder meeting, representing the first time that local residents and government officials have been able to meet collectively to discuss land resource management and tenure issues.
The community used the products of participatory mapping exercises to voice their land resource concerns to local government. The forum also allowed local authorities to explain their role in land management. The newly elected Member of Parliament for Minhla Township, Mr. U Aung Aung, pledged his long-term support in resolving land resource issues faced by community members as a result of land leasing under the Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Land Law, but added that community members themselves must also be involved.
Speaking to meeting attendees, Mr. U Aung Aung said, “In the past, local land authorities have acted without considering the interests of all the community members. This must end if land conflicts are to be avoided in the future. Meetings like this are an important opportunity for all parties to discuss these sensitive issues in a safe environment and will result in improved transparency between citizens and government departments.”
The successful stakeholders meeting also stimulated community members to request additional support to better understand existing land legislation and the relevant provisions in the new National Land Use Policy on community land and resource rights.