Mapping Approaches for Securing Tenure (MAST) Quick Guide: 2024 World Bank Land Conference

MAST Quick Guide cover imageMapping Approaches for Securing Tenure (MAST) is a collection of participatory mapping approaches used by USAID and its partners to help communities manage, document, and secure their land and resource rights.

MAST blends participatory mapping approaches with flexible technology tools to help local communities who lack access to government services to document, manage, and secure their land and resource rights, improving long-term governance of community land and resources.

USAID Land and Resource Governance Quick Guide: 2024 World Bank Land Conference

LRG Quick Guide cover imageUSAID is leading the way forward in improving land and resource governance and strengthening property rights around the world. We are testing and learning from innovative and cost-effective methods to improve secure land tenure and property rights, analyzing and disseminating evidence, engaging with the private sector, civil society, and other donors, and applying lessons learned.

Integrated Land and Resource Governance II (ILRG II) Fact Sheet

Secure land and resource rights, coupled with sound governance, encourage investment and support economic growth. They provide a foundation for urban planning and service delivery. Secure rights and good governance enable effective and equitable management of natural resources including forests, wetlands, water sources, biodiversity, and critical minerals. Secure land and resource rights can reduce conflicts and contribute positively to peace, stability, and resilient economic growth. Yet, across many countries, land and resource rights frameworks and governance institutions are weak; there is limited capacity to enforce rules and norms, and for many, access to justice is out of reach. These issues constrain economic, environmental, and social development outcomes in many USAID-presence countries.

USAID’s Integrated Land and Resource Governance II (ILRG II) program works with USAID Missions, operating units, host country governments, civil society, the private sector, and local communities to develop inclusive, innovative and replicable strategies to clarify tenure and property rights and resolve land-related conflicts. ILRG II’s approach to land and resource governance supports a broad range of development goals, including:

  • Empowering women, Indigenous Peoples, youth, and marginalized or underrepresented groups;
  • Advancing inclusive climate action and nature-based solutions;
  • Conserving biodiversity;
  • Strengthening sustainable food and agro-ecological systems;
  • Promoting responsible land-based investing and innovation;
  • Mitigating or preventing conflict mitigated;
  • Adopting more responsible and inclusive practices in the mining of critical minerals, essential for the green energy transition;
  • Supporting sustainable urbanization and disaster risk management.

ILRG II works with stakeholders to create space for dialogue on these issues and implements inclusive approaches that provide incremental progress toward more just land and resource governance.

Critical Minerals: Key to Our Low-Carbon Future

Many critical minerals vital to the global energy transition are found in USAID-presence countries. USAID is well positioned to advance just and responsible mining practices in partner countries, which can offset associated supply-chain risks in the face of booming global demand. 

To create a low-carbon economy that will reduce the threat of climate change, the world must shift from a fossil fuel-based economy towards renewable energy technologies such as solar panels, wind turbines, and electric vehicles. These technologies rely on several dozen minerals, including cobalt, nickel, lithium, and rare earth elements. Global demand for these key minerals is projected to increase by as much as 400 percent by 2040 compared to today’s levels (see figure below). These minerals are mined in more than 70 countries, including many where USAID operates.

USAID has more than 20 years of experience supporting responsible supply chains for diamonds, gold, and other conflict minerals. More broadly, it has deep expertise promoting transparent resource governance, protecting the environment, preventing conflict, improving benefit sharing, and other development goals that intersect with mining. The Agency is well-positioned to build on this work in the context of today’s increasing global demands for minerals, simultaneously working to support our climate mitigation goals, contribute to economic development, and avoid a new “resource curse.” 

To this end, USAID’s Land and Resource Governance (LRG) Division supports Missions to promote more responsible mining. The LRG Division provides technical analysis of mining issues specific to each country, support with private sector and civil society engagement, facilitation for integrating mining considerations into other programs, and other services. Through these efforts in collaboration with host countries and other stakeholders, USAID programs can influence the direction mining takes—mitigating negative impacts while helping to achieve development goals.

Integrated Land and Resource (ILRG) Fact Sheet

An estimated 70 percent of land in developing countries is not documented, and hundreds of millions of households in rural and urban areas lack secure rights to the land and resource they live and rely on. This limits access to capital and the ability to make long-term investments. As a result, these individuals are particularly vulnerable in the event of conflict or natural disaster. Countries where property rights are perceived as insecure are less attractive for investors and more reliant on donor funding. USAID recognizes that strengthening rights to land and natural resources is central to achieving a broad range of development goals on the journey to self-reliance including: conflict prevention and mitigation; countering violent extremism; realizing inclusive economic growth, managing biodiversity and natural resources sustainably; enhancing agricultural productivity; generating own source revenue; and empowering women and vulnerable populations.

The USAID Integrated Land and Resource Governance (ILRG) task order under the Strengthening Tenure and Resource Rights II (STARR II) IDIQ – managed by the E3/Land and Urban Office – seeks to address this constraint through four interrelated areas of intervention:

  • Supporting the development of inclusive land and property rights laws and policies;
  • Assisting law and policy implementation, including clarifying, documenting, registering, and administering rights to land and resources;
  • Increasing the capacity of local institutions to administer land and strengthen governance; and
  • Facilitating responsible land-based investment that creates optimized outcomes for communities and investors.

Integrated Natural Resource Management (INRM) Activity Fact Sheet

The Integrated Natural Resource Management (INRM) activity provides on-demand support services and technical assistance for USAID Missions, Bureaus, and Independent Offices across a wide array of environmental and natural resource management issues. INRM covers the full range of environmental issues USAID works on and is managed jointly by the USAID E3 Offices of Land and Urban, Forestry and Biodiversity, and Global Climate Change. The activity is designed to help USAID operating units achieve higher impact environment programming and to support the uptake of principles and approaches outlined in the Agency’s Environmental and Natural Resource Management (ENRM) Framework.

ILRG Mozambique Fact Sheet

USAID is partnering with private sector companies to improve gender-responsive land rights documentation and develop the capacity of communities to access and benefit from land.

Disputes over land are common in Mozambique, a country with a complex history of conflict, migration, resettlement, and land informality. Land in Mozambique is owned by the state, and citizens are provided legal, longterm land and resource use rights. While the country’s progressive land law does provide communities and citizens with tenure security, the majority of Mozambique’s rural population lacks the documentation, financial resources, and technical capacity to secure their rights in practice.

Balancing the need to support community land rights against a desire to increase private-sector investment in land has been challenging, and as a result, land policies meant to protect communities and smallholders have been implemented inequitably. Smallholder farmers often find themselves competing against private sector interests who garner state support because they have the means to be large-scale producers. This environment continues to make it difficult for undocumented smallholders to protect their land rights, invest into their land, and negotiate with the private sector.

In Mozambique, USAID’s Integrated Land and Resource Governance (ILRG) program is working with communities, the private sector, and the Government of Mozambique to clarify and document land and resource rights, improve local land administration, and increase responsible land-based investments that benefit communities, with a special focus on securing women’s land rights. The five-year program (2018-2023) works to raise awareness of land and resource rights and supports communities to settle complicated land and boundary disputes.

Mining Horizon Fact Sheet

Encouraging responsible gold mining through legality, better practices, and knowledge management
Mining Horizon strengthens the Government of Colombia’s capacity to govern artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM), and to mitigate the impacts of informal gold mining on the environment. The activity also responds to the Colombian Government’s request for technical assistance to strengthen formalization of the mining sector and to train miners in good mining practices. Formalization and governance of the ASGM sector are key to reducing deforestation, land degradation, and environmental pollution. Unregulated gold mining also undermines the governance system, fosters corruption, and threatens communities’ social and economic well-being. Mining Horizon is implemented nationally but also focuses on Antioquia, Chocó, and a third department (TBD). Mining Horizon is administered through USAID/Washington’s Integrated Natural Resource Management (INRM) activity and runs from June 2021 to December 2022.

Understanding Artisanal Mining Supply Chains and Conflict Financing in DRC

Reliable data enable suppliers and policymakers to curtail the conflict mineral trade in Eastern DRC.

When effectively monitored and mapped, legal and responsible artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) supply chains can promote peace and stability while providing livelihoods and contributing to rural development throughout the Great Lakes region. In Eastern DRC, where the ASM sector is largely informal, the sector is beset with criminal activity and corruption. Most of the gold produced via ASM is smuggled through illegal channels, depriving the DRC government of critical revenue, and often ends up strengthening illegal armed groups and financing conflicts in the region. Poor understanding of the informal ASM supply chains in the region risks undermining the efficiency of responsible ASM efforts and local development in mining areas.

USAID Partnership: 2021-2023

Since 2015, USAID has partnered with the Belgian research institute International Peace Information Service (IPIS) to map artisanal mining sites in eastern DRC in collaboration with the DRC Ministry of Mines. In 2021, USAID renewed its partnership with IPIS through 2023 to obtain up-to-date and accurate information on conflict financing, due diligence, and socio-economic dynamics along artisanal mining supply chains in Eastern DRC. By funding data collection and analysis through its Integrated Land and Resource Governance (ILRG) project, USAID can analyze how actors in the ASM sector finance armed groups and drive insecurity.

The project is developing decade-long historical datasets on the location of thousands of artisanal mining areas in Eastern DRC, types of minerals, worker demographics, trade routes and centers, and on-site security. This information is a critical first step in creating legal pathways for the sector.

The two-year partnership will build from and update these datasets by targeting the Eastern DRC provinces of Ituri, Tshopo, Haut-Uele, North and South Kivu, Maniema, and Tanganyika. This information is critical to guiding the strategies of the Government of DRC and Congolese civil society in their partnership with USAID to address the many challenges in the country’s natural resources sectors. The partnership is an innovative example of how USAID ILRG supports USAID Missions to build resilient livelihoods by preventing conflict, facilitating responsible land-based investment, and building the capacity of local institutions to strengthen land and resource governance.

Main Objectives

  • Map and collect data from 550+ artisanal smallscale mining sites and supply chains
  • Sharpen investigation of conflict financing dynamics
  • Disseminate results to increase the understanding of linkages between mineral trade and insecurity
  • Make data publicly available through a user-friendly interactive webmap

What has IPIS research revealed in the last decade?

For the past decade, IPIS has maintained a permanent dashboard that monitors ASM activities in relation to conflict and exploitation through large-scale primary data collection in remote mining areas, an open data policy, and collaboration with DRC Ministry of Mines for data collection. Users can filter data by time period, province, mineral, mine size, mineral traceability, official qualification status, presence of state services, armed groups, as well as reported armed interference, presence of child labor and mercury use. Findings include:

  • 41% of sites visited involved armed groups
  • 97% of sites visited involve gold mining
  • 10% of sites (259) have 500+ workers

The Artisanal Small-Scale Mining Population

Studies estimate the ASM sector contributes to the livelihoods of up to 10 million people in DRC, so understanding these financial networks will help USAID and its partners work towards meeting sustainability objectives for responsible mineral sourcing.
2010: 461 sites analyzed, 98k workers
2015: 1,662 sites analyzed, 261k workers, 670 sites with armed groups
2020: 2,398 sites analyzed, 348k workers, 985 sites with armed groups

Illegal Gold

DRC’s official gold exports average just 200-300kg each year, but the country estimates that 13,600-18,140 kg of gold are produced through artisanal small-scale mining in the eastern DRC, and that a large portion of it is smuggled out of the country. Part of the $550-800 million in resulting revenues finances illegal armed groups. Mapping this loss of revenue and its impact on conflict will help USAID and its partners more effectively contribute to rural development in the region by preventing exploitation of ASM workers and reducing the risk that they will be displaced from their land.


USAID Contact Libby Skolnik,, Deputy Director, Peace & Security Office

Chief of Party Matt Sommerville,, USAID contractor/ILR

Project Coordinator Ken Matthysen,, IPIS

Supporting Gender Integration in Customary Land Documentation in Malawi

USAID is supporting gender-responsive and socially inclusive customary land documentation in Malawi to ensure that women and other marginalized groups participate in land registration and governance.

Malawi’s land policies, including the Customary Land Act, permit customary landholders to formalize ownership and improve land tenure security.

Despite a legal framework that promotes equality in land documentation, systematic customary land registration efforts often end up being gender- neutral and fail to address barriers to women’s land rights and even inadvertently reinforce these barriers.

The approach of the USAID Integrated Land and Resource Governance (ILRG) program recognizes social barriers as a key challenge to translate legal provisions into women’s access to and control of land in both matrilineal and patrilineal systems. With funding from the Women’s Economic Empowerment Fund at USAID, ILRG is working with the Land Reform Implementation Unit (LRIU) at the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development (MLHUD) to integrate gender sensitization into customary land documentation in Malawi.

A gender-responsive and socially inclusive registration process will address the barriers and social norms that often hinder the ability to own, access, use, and control land while protecting the land rights of women and other marginalized groups like youth, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

Strengthening women’s land rights and participation in land governance supports sustainable livelihoods, ultimately promoting food and economic security for rural household and communities.

Main Objectives

  • Promote the inclusion of women and youth in the land documentation process through gender-responsive guidelines, manuals, and implementation notes.
  • Shift gender norms around women’s land rights at institutional, community, and household levels.
  • Encourage gender integration into customary land documentation among national and international stakeholders.
  • Build the capacity of district level land registry and clerks to manage land records that are trusted and verified by all land users and landholders, including women and youth.

Implementation Overview

The ILRG Malawi activity will support the LRIU, from August 2021 to March 2023, to document customary land in the Traditional Authority Mwansambo, Nkhotakota District, Central Region.
ILRG will support the documentation of up to 18 group village headpersons, some 5,000 – 10,000 parcels, and support government to ensure gender-responsive and socially inclusive approaches inform ongoing efforts. ILRG will finance three learning platform meetings that bring together government, academia, communities, traditional authorities, and civil society to consolidate experience and build momentum for gender-responsive and socially inclusive customary land
documentation approaches.

Government Partners

Land Reform Implementation Unit under the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development (MLHUD)

Expected Outcomes

  • 45,000 people will benefit from gender-responsive customary land documentation with the issuance of land certificates.
  • An improved land administration structure that can support future land documentation processes.
  • More gender-responsive and accountable public sector and customary land authority.


ILRG Country Coordinator Gavelet Mzembe,
ILRG Chief of Party Matt Sommerville,
USAID COR Sarah Lowery,