Leçons Apprises de la Premiere Campagne de L’ODOC dans le District D’Ambanja

Madagascar fait partie des pays bénéficiaires des initiatives de réhabilitation du cacao menées par le Secrétariat pour les Affaires Économiques de la Suisse (SECO). Le projet Climate Resilient Cocoa Landscapes in Madagascar (CRCL) est mis en œuvre par le consortium Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation (une entité indépendante Suisse qui œuvre dans 30 pays du monde, notamment en Afrique, Amérique Latine, Asie et Europe de l’Est), Valrhona, Millot, Earthworm Foundation, Center for Development and Environment, Lindt & Sprüngli Ramanandraibe Exportation (Rama Ex) et la Société Anonyme au Capital de MGA (SCIM). Ce consortium comprend aussi deux entités sous contractantes : le Center for Development and Environment (CDE) et la Earthworm Foundation. Le résultat attendu du projet est que les entités publiques, privées, et communautaires gèrent durablement les paysages de cacao dans le District d’Ambanja et la vallée du fleuve Sambirano, assurant ainsi les services environnementaux essentiels. Les acteurs privés du secteur du cacao (en plus de la vanille et autres cultures de rentes) sont des moteurs de changement potentiellement importants pour réduire la pression sur les ressources naturelles et la biodiversité.

Plusieurs interventions pour soutenir la sécurisation foncière de la vallée de Sambirano ont été réalisées depuis plusieurs années comme le Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), le Programme de lutte antiérosive (PLAE), croissance agricole et sécurisation foncière (CASEF) pour la mise en place des nouveaux guichets fonciers ou redynamisation des guichets fonciers existants. Pour le cas des réserves indigènes, une Opération Domanial Concertée (ODOC) a été réalisée avec l’appui financier du PLAE en 2012 dans la commune d’Ambodimanga Ramena, et une autre en 2017 réalisée par le Ministère de l’Aménagement du Territoire et des Services Fonciers sans appui des partenaires financiers dans la commune d’Ambohitrandriana. Suite à la demande du Comité de Gestion du Bassin Versant de Sambirano (COGEBS), la réalisation d’une ODOC de deux phases (2022-2023) a été décidée par le Ministère de l’Aménagement du territoire et des services fonciers (MATSF) dans le District d’Ambanja et soutenue par Helvetas et l’Integrated Land and Resource Governance (ILRG). Cette note est un bilan de l’initiative soutenue par l’ILRG pour aborder la sécurisation des ex-réserves Indigènes. Ce bilan est tiré des rapports de mission de l’équipe, des diverses campagnes de sensibilisations avec le COGEBS, les
rapports de voyages d’études, des résultats de l’atelier bilan et des échanges, des observations de l’équipe de l’ILRG Madagascar et des lois et réglementations en vigueur à Madagascar.

Cocoa Private Sector Engagement in Land-Related Issues in the Sambirano Valley, Madagascar

In English and French

Madagascar is one of the focal countries of the cocoa rehabilitation initiative carried out by the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). The Climate Resilient Cocoa Landscapes in Madagascar (CRCL) project is implemented by the HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation consortium (an independent Swiss entity working in 30 countries around the world), Valrhona, Millot, Earthworm Foundation, Center for Development and Environment, Lindt & Sprüngli, Ramanandraibe Exportation (Rama Ex) and
Société Anonyme au Capital de MGA (SCIM). The consortium also includes two subcontracting entities: the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) and the Earthworm Foundation. The expected outcome of the project is that public, private, and community entities sustainably manage cocoa landscapes in Ambanja District and the Sambirano River Valley, thereby ensuring essential environmental service provision. Private sector companies in the cocoa sector (as well as vanilla and other cash crops) are potentially important drivers of change to reduce pressure on natural resources and biodiversity.

In July 2020, Helvetas organized a workshop at the level of the 15 municipalities, the inter-municipal level, and the level of the Sambirano River basin with the participation of many stakeholders such as municipalities, women’s associations, young people, cocoa producers, and traders. Several areas of interest emerged during these consultative meetings, such as conservation, exploitation of forest products, agriculture, livestock, and fishing, large commercial farms, domestic water services, service providers (including trade, tourism, and transport), social services (health, education, security) and the land sector.

Within the land sector, the problems raised included the cost of land services being too expensive (topographic and state district, and land counter), the non-existence of land-related offices, forced land grabbing, lack of awareness of laws governing land, influence peddling and corruption, and the existence of indigenous reserves whose ownership is not clear to local residents. The participants noted that most of the fertile land belongs to the old companies or colonial concessions, leaving only small plots of land for the local population, which continues to grow. Competition over land is considerable and especially accentuated by the non-existence of proof of ownership (title, land certificate) for the heirs of former owners or land resulting from purchases (e.g., settlers). During the consultations, women’s perspectives on access to land were not evident. To address these challenges, the CRCL consortium enlisted technical assistance from the USAID Integrated Land Resources Governance project.

The Business Case for Women’s Economic Empowerment in PepsiCo’s Potato Supply Chain in West Bengal: Key Results and Recommendations


USAID partnered with PepsiCo to test the business case for economically empowering women in PepsiCo’s potato supply chain in West Bengal, India. Women are heavily involved in potato farming in West Bengal, but often in overlooked areas of work such as seed cutting and seed treatment, typically done at home. As a result, most PepsiCo registered farmers are men. The partnership hypothesized that increasing women’s visibility and participation in PepsiCo’s supply chain would positively contribute to important tangible and intangible business metrics for the company, including increased productivity and profitability for farming families, adoption of sustainable farming practices, increased supplier base size and retention, and improved brand loyalty. The partnership worked with women and men farmers in 11 target communities and PepsiCo employees to increase gender equality awareness and women’s access to critical productive resources in order to meet both women’s empowerment and PepsiCo’s business objectives.

Lessons Learned: Integrating Gender Equality and Social Inclusion into Customary Land Documentation in Malawi

As land is a critical asset for rural men and women, securing land tenure through documentation can reduce conflict and vulnerability to property grabbing, while creating incentives for households to make long-term investments in their land. In Malawi, 70 percent of the population lives on customary land that is held by communities and administered by traditional leaders. Less than 10 percent of people have any form of land documentation, and these rates are worse for women and other marginalized groups.

The Government of Malawi enacted a series of land laws in 2016, including the Customary Land Act that allows customary land holders to formalize ownership by registering their parcels. Building on this new legal framework, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Integrated Land and Resource Governance (ILRG) program partnered with the Government of Malawi to register all customary land within a traditional land management area (TLMA). The program applied a strong gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) lens to ensure that women, youth, the elderly, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups were included throughout the process. This initiative provides lessons for scaling the government-led customary land registration process across the country in the coming years.

This brief shares the following ten lessons from this two-year partnership, highlighting the main activities undertaken to integrate GESI into the customary land documentation process, initial results, and challenges:

  1. Allow sufficient time for planning and preparation to select intervention areas, align expectations, and resolve broader land boundary issues.
  2. Carry out a robust gender analysis to inform GESI-specific activities and GESI integration in the land registration process.
  3. Invest in enumerators/data collectors, as they are the frontline for GESI integration.
  4. Implement GESI capacity strengthening for all stakeholders involved in the land registration process to increase understanding and buy-in.
  5. Ensure GESI content is part of initial community outreach on land rights, with continued sensitization throughout the documentation process.
  6. Gender quotas are important, but women need additional support to meaningfully participate in land governance.
  7. Invest in traditional leaders as key agents of change to promote GESI in customary land registration and governance.
  8. Focus on shifting harmful gender norms at the household and community levels.
  9. Build support and resources for gender-responsive land dispute resolution.
  10. Create space for long-term change; though GESI integration generates positive results, there is persistent resistance to registering land in the name of women in patrilocal marriage systems.

Data and insights on challenges and lessons learned come from two local learning events (midline and endline), as well as interviews and focus group discussions with key stakeholders. A survey with community members provided quantitative data that was compared to baseline data from the initial gender assessment.

Women’s Land & Property Rights and Economic Security Brief

Gender equity and equality are imperative to strengthening communities, economies, the environment, and countries; yet, women are routinely overlooked and undervalued economically despite the wealth of benefits that are derived from their formal and informal contributions. The COVID-19 pandemic has further resulted in greater economic insecurity for women globally (USAID, 2021c). Women are more likely to experience poverty, hunger, and housing instability. In addition, economic insecurity often increases women’s vulnerability to abuse, compromising their safety (White House, 2021).

In 2021, the Biden Administration released the first-ever U.S. Government National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality, which highlights improving women’s economic security and accelerating women’s economic growth worldwide as a strategic priority. As Sima Bahous, Executive Director of UN Women, stated in a speech at the Global Land Forum in 2022, “Women’s land rights are intrinsically and vitally linked to gender equality” (Bahous, 2022). Strengthening these rights can have a striking and positive impact on women’s economic security, job creation, and entrepreneurship. To this end, the USAID Land and Resource Governance (LRG) Division’s programs have a significant focus on improving women’s land rights and equitable access to land and property globally.

This short brief provides a high-level overview of the links between women’s land and resource rights and economic security, job creation, and entrepreneurship, as well as examples of past and current USAID projects that work towards these development goals.

Scaling and Sustaining MAST

Developed with USAID support, Mapping Approaches for Securing Tenure (MAST) combines participatory land mapping with flexible technology to temporarily fill service gaps in land administration and to supplement official land information systems, and ultimately improve long-term governance of community land and resources. MAST aims to enable communities to document and secure their land and resource rights to support a range of development objectives, from women’s empowerment and food security to climate change mitigation and biodiversity preservation.

USAID has adapted MAST to strengthen tenure security and improve resource governance in local communities throughout Tanzania, Zambia, and Mozambique, among other countries, providing solid foundations for further land mapping and property formalization, both systematically and on an on-demand basis. How can communities, governments, and other stakeholders continue to use, fund, and scale MAST after initial investments? The “Scaling and Sustaining MAST” brief provides an overview of lessons learned on the sustainable utilization and scaling of MAST, as well as recommended practices for ensuring continued use of the approach.

Applying MAST for Enhanced Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Outcomes

Research finds that strengthening women’s land and resource rights positively impacts women’s empowerment and decision-making capacity. Yet laws and practices across much of the world hinder women’s access to these critical assets.

USAID has helped address this inequity over the past decade through Mapping Approaches for Securing Tenure (MAST), a blend of participatory land mapping techniques and flexible technology tools developed to help communities document and secure their land and resource rights. 

MAST has strengthened women’s land tenure and promoted women’s empowerment in communities throughout Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia, among other countries. The “Applying MAST for Enhanced Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Outcomes” brief provides an overview of these participatory mapping efforts as they relate to gender equality and social inclusion, as well as key outcomes, challenges, and considerations from implementation.

An Introduction to Water Tenure

This brief is designed to help USAID Missions, Operating Units, and implementing partners understand the concept of water tenure in the context of programs that seek to improve food and water security and address climate change. The brief highlights how incorporating water tenure considerations can contribute to improving water resource governance and management.

The concept of water tenure is relatively new, with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) initiating discussions on the topic in 2013 at an expert consultation on water governance and the role of tenure and rights in coping with agricultural water scarcity. Following the consultation, FAO published a discussion paper in 2016, which conceptualized water tenure as, “the relationship, whether legal or customarily defined, between people, as individuals or groups, with respect to water resources.” Water tenure focuses on the use of freshwater resources from both groundwater and surface water bodies, like rivers and streams.

Enhanced Prindex Application in Colombia

The research was designed and executed under the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) Integrated Land and Resource Governance (ILRG) activity. Data collection was carried out from May through July 2021.

Secure and transferable property rights for land and housing are a key driver of economic development, environmental sustainability, and social stability, and are an important focus of public policy. To better protect property rights and develop effective policies and programs in this area (e.g., the USAID Land for Prosperity Activity [LFP] in Colombia), policymakers and practitioners require a clear picture of the current level of tenure security across countries, sub-national jurisdictions, and groups of people, and they need to be able to track changes across time. An increasingly popular measure of tenure security is individuals’ perceptions of tenure security (PTS) – a subjective assessment of the risk of losing property rights. The main benefit of PTS over other measures of tenure security, such as possession of formal/government-issued documents confirming property rights, is related to its comparability across tenure forms (including informal) and legal systems. However, as has been noted in survey design literature and program implementation practice, differences in how to measure PTS may lead to inconsistencies in assessment and thus in programmatic and policy recommendations.

This study draws on new data collected in Colombia of individuals’ PTS, based on the Prindex methodology, to learn more about the formulation of measurement scales for this increasingly used metric. It is motivated by the expanding set of studies of tenure security around the world using different measurement scales and a corresponding need to understand the impact of these differences for comparability and reliability of the results used in policy discourse. This study also contributes to learning about tenure security in some of the most conflict-affected areas of Colombia. The data from Colombia was collected using two different measurement scales and allows analysis of the impact of these approaches. It provides corresponding recommendations for this type of research.

Download the brief and full report here.

Migration and Forest Condition Literature Review

Key Findings

How does rural out-migration affect tropical forests and rural livelihoods? Migration out of rural landscapes has important consequences for the persistence and conservation of forests and forestbased resources in the global South. Ensuring that tropical forests are protected and remain ecologically functional will determine whether humans are able to avert catastrophic disruptions to food, water, and energy systems caused by climate change. In some instances, out-migration reduces pressure on forests and forest-based resources and allows for limited natural regeneration of forests in abandoned agricultural parcels. However, in other cases, rapid out-migration of able-bodied laborers weakens local customary land and forest tenure institutions, leading to the mismanagement of forests and an erosion in cultural norms surrounding sustainable use of forest-based resources. Moreover, in most cases, rural out-migration threatens the persistence of rural livelihoods as depopulation results in the loss of ablebodied laborers and subsequent reductions in agricultural production.

The variability in forest outcomes following out-migration makes it difficult to draw broad generalizations from the diverse and disparate case studies available, especially due to the lack of high quality, interdisciplinary or multi-disciplinary studies that couple longitudinal analyses of demographic change with household surveys, spatial data analysis, and ecological surveys of forest condition.

However, some recurring themes and patterns do emerge and can help inform evidence-based interventions that are tailored to a particular geographic region. The recommendations outlined below are not exhaustive and should be carefully considered in the context of local customs, norms, histories, and socioeconomic conditions – if properly implemented, these interventions could increase rural livelihood security and improve forest condition and management.

  1. Protect and promote forest regeneration through active management – while most landscapes are unlikely to return to pre-disturbance biodiversity levels and ecosystem functioning, these landscapes can provision some ecosystem services including aboveground carbon storage and habitat for wildlife. One possible mechanism to implement this recommendation is through the provision of direct incentives to rural smallholders to actively manage and protect regenerating forests on abandoned agricultural land. These incentives could be created through payments for ecosystem services schemes, carbon finance, or government programs.
  2. Strengthen customary and communal tenure institutions so that they can adapt to the loss of local participants while still actively managing forests for sustainable use. Labor scarcity and the erosion of cultural norms brought on by rural out-migration threatens the persistence of customary forest and land tenure institutions. Supporting local communities as they build adaptive capacity will be critical to ensure that they continue to manage forests for sustainable use and buffer against the encroachment of large-scale commercial interests. Case studies from Oaxaca, Mexico (Robson & Berkes, 2011) demonstrate that it is possible to build adaptive capacity in customary forest tenure institutions by allowing for flexibility in participation and by ensuring that community members have access to resources for managing forests with a reduced pool of laborers.
  3. Invest in agricultural extension programs that increase livelihood security for rural smallholders while empowering individuals in their choice to migrate out of or remain on their land. Migration of able-bodied laborers is leading to labor scarcity and a reduction in the cultivation of agricultural land. Subsidies for key agricultural inputs and incentives for crop production would ameliorate some of the pressure caused by out-migration and the loss of laborers for those smallholders who actively choose to continue inhabiting rural landscapes. By providing incentives for smallholders to sustainably intensify their production, these populations can act as a buffer against large-scale land acquisitions for commercial production.
  4. Invest in improvements in basic services in rural landscapes; access to quality education, health care, and off-farm employment opportunities is needed to empower rural smallholders to make the choice to stay or leave. Protecting rural livelihoods is an important strategy to ensure protection and conservation of tropical forests in conjunction with strong environmental protection policies. While improvements in socioeconomic status or livelihood security of rural smallholders may also lead to an increase in out-migration, investment in improving basic services ensures that individuals and families who wish to remain on their land are better supported in their choice.
  5. Invest in supporting women-headed households in certain rural landscapes where men make up the majority of outmigrants. Investments in improving tenure security of rural landholdings and supporting the participation of women in customary tenure institutions and both on-farm and off-farm livelihood opportunities can help to alleviate pressure on women-headed households where out-migration is primarily of able-bodied men. Case studies from Nepal (Jacquet et al., 2015) and Oaxaca (Angelsen et al., 2020) point to a lack of support for women-headed households in areas where out-migration of men has shifted the burden of maintaining and cultivating rural landholdings to women. Subsequent loss of productive agricultural land due to labor scarcity is in some cases increasing the socioeconomic precarity of these households and increasing pressure on forest-based resources.