TGCC Paraguay Examination of Lessons Learned: Platform for Reviewing Indigenous Claims to Land and Forests

Title: Documenting Rights, Reducing Risks: Platform for Reviewing Indigenous Claims to Land and Forests
Subtitle: Examination of Lessons Learned in Paraguay

The trends in Paraguay are reflected globally, as agriculture expands its footprint at the expense of Indigenous Peoples and forests. Companies around the world, especially those linked to major drivers of deforestation, face increasing pressure to address environmental and social risks in their supply chains, and many have already made zero deforestation and zero land grabbing commitments.

Building on a review of the current status of land tenure and its relationship to deforestation and the private sector in the Paraguayan Chaco, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) collaborated with FAPI, the Federación por la Autodeterminación de los Pueblos Indígenas, to create an interactive online map of indigenous lands in Paraguay through the USAID-funded Tenure and Global Climate Change program (TGCC). TGCC has carried out pilot activities in five countries to demonstrate how documentation of land and resource rights can support sustainable landscape management. The Paraguay intervention focused on the intersection of land tenure, deforestation, and private sector investments in the Chaco region, where commercial agriculture is expanding into the previously intact Chaco forest ecosystem. This expansion has triggered significant deforestation and land conflicts with the indigenous peoples of the Chaco, who have seen much of the region’s forest turned to cattle ranches since 2000. As the country’s agricultural exports grow, so too does the need for transparency and accessible data on indigenous lands, without which the agricultural sector would be unable to reduce their exposure to these risks.

The resulting Paraguayan website platform, called Tierras Indigenas Paraguay (, was launched in November 2017, and it is intended that the data will be integrated into global platforms as well, like LandMark and Global Forest Watch. The increased availability of geospatial data on a public-oriented platform has great potential to boost the visibility of indigenous lands, and the transparency and availability of the data provides much needed inputs for the private sector to carry out due diligence activities to reduce social and environmental risk in their sourcing. While significant data had already been created by both indigenous groups and the government, these had not previously been systematically organized and made public via a mapping platform. This approach to consolidating existing data from disparate sources onto a public platform provides an important method of participatory mapping and rights recognition moving forward. This document provides a brief overview of lessons learned during the site’s development and associated outreach as potential guidelines for the continued development of the platform, and for similar processes in the future.

TGCC Ghana Final Report and Lessons Learned: Improving Tenure Security to Support Sustainable Cocoa

Worldwide, forests are being lost at an alarming rate, driven by the expansion of internationally traded commodities. In response, companies are making efforts to reduce and eliminate deforestation from their supply chains. In 2016, Hershey’s and Ecom Agroindustrial Corp (ECOM) began collaborating with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Tenure and Global Climate Change (TGCC) Program that helped leverage private sector funding to address land and tree tenure constraints that inhibit cocoa productivity and contribute to deforestation around smallholder cocoa farming in Ghana. This work resulted in an assessment and recommendations for a future pilot, captured in the report Land and Natural Resource Governance and Tenure for Enabling Sustainable Cocoa Cultivation in Ghana. Over the 11-month period from February to December 2017, USAID implemented a pilot in Nyame Nnae, a cocoa farming community in the Asankrangwa district of Ghana with implementing partners Tetra Tech and Winrock International. The pilot had four specific objectives:

  1. Increase tenure security of smallholder cocoa farmers through clarifying and documenting the rights of landholders and tenants that discourage removing old cocoa trees under stranger tenancy (abunu) contracts.
  2. Promote the increase in carbon stocks in cocoa farms over the long term by explaining new Forestry Commission policy on tree tenure and documenting tenants’ and landlords’ beneficial interests in shade trees.
  3. Replant old, unproductive cocoa farms to increase productivity over the next five to 10 years. This requires developing a financing model to replant old cocoa farms and provide extension services to farmers.
  4. Develop lessons and recommendations for the Government of Ghana, Ghana’s Cocoa Forest REDD+ Program, the World Cocoa Foundation, Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) 2020 partners, and others working on related topics with smallholder farmers that will allow the pilot to be replicated and scaled up over time.


The pilot focused on improving tenure in Nyame Nnae community in the Western Region. Nyame Nnae was chosen to carry out a tenure intervention based on community interest and factors like a high proportion of non-indigene farmers and a clear land constraint. There are three main customary interests in land in Nyame Nnae: customary freehold (9 percent), asideε (migrant farmer freehold – 45 percent), and abunu (46 percent). The project captured and documented land and tree rights as practiced; it did not try to convert these customary rights into statutory rights. The project engaged legal consultants to draft three customary land rights templates based on these prevailing customary norms. A local organization, Landmapp, was subcontracted to complete mapping of community boundaries and individual cocoa farms and store electronic records. ECOM’s extension agents were trained in tenure principles and provided with training materials and simple, laminated fact sheets to help them resolve land disputes, monitor and assess tenure in their field work, and augment their suite of future trainings. In total, the boundaries of Nyame Nnae community were mapped and 190 farms were surveyed and tenure rights documented, with 37 percent held by women.

During the life of the intervention, the importance of clarifying landowner and tenant relationships through customary contracts emerged as equally important in documenting tenure terms as having a mapped document for the landowner. Clear dispute resolution structures were found to exist within the Asankrangwa stool, though community members were not always well informed about their rights. The team provided training on dispute resolution to community elders, emphasizing disputes and negotiations relating to cocoa farm rehabilitation and negotiated abunu arrangements. At the end of the project, 92 percent of those who received documentation thought it was worthwhile. Community members added that the process provided additional security and information on farm size, and will help reduce conflict. The primary factors that informed farmers’ participation in the project included interests in documentation of land to secure and protect their future investments and to aid in accessing financing options; a desire to know more about site planning; and, interest in farm management more broadly.


Current law vests rights to naturally occurring trees with the state, which expropriates all rights over timber exploitation and vests them in the government. Despite this legal framework, it became clear that the community views tenure over trees and forest products through the lens of customary land rights, even if this differs from statutory law. The community does, however, distinguish customary rights over trees from timber trees, for which control is vested in the Forestry Commission by formal law. The community views timber trees as being owned by the government.

The interplay between government policy, timber extraction, and planting trees laying claim to land ownership creates perverse outcomes: planted trees are pulled up by customary land holders; land disputes emerge between tree planters and customary land holders; and, there are disincentives to plant commercial trees. While these conflicts were not directly observed within Nyame Nnae, the Forestry Commission is aware of challenges with the current law and policy. New policy approaches are being considered and tested. Upon analysis, many aspects of the tree registration system proposed by the Forestry Commission were still in flux and do not go far enough, as the system maintains the distinction between planted and naturally occurring trees. This distinction causes confusion and scope for abuse, as failure to register planted shade trees may result in de facto treatment as naturally occurring and therefore subject to state expropriation. The administrative costs of registering trees are also steep. The team decided not to test the draft tree tenure registration documentation because of reservations about the proposed policy changes, their long-term efficacy, and the potential to create confusion.


Farm level rehabilitation was carried out on a total of 50 ha spread over 71 self-selected farms and was financed by private sector partner ECOM. Ten of these farms were within Nyame Nnae community (four women and six men) and 61 (12 women and 49 men) were spread across multiple different cocoa communities where ECOM operates. To help ECOM implement agroforestry practices in farm rehabilitation, 20 ECOM extension agents participated in TGCC’s training of trainers agroforestry course.

To better understand how to finance rehabilitation, ECOM and TGCC developed a financial model for cocoa farm rehabilitation. Under the model ECOM rehabilitates and manages all farm activities over three years while the farmer learns farm rehabilitation and management techniques and diversifies their income with cash crops. This approach differs from using model farms, which have had mixed success. In this model a farmer provides three acres of old cocoa trees to be cleared and has additional cocoa farms elsewhere, which will continue producing cocoa. Two of the three acres are replanted with cocoa, shade trees (if needed), maize, and plantains, and the third acre is planted with maize and plantains only. Plantain and maize is then planted with two crops of maize and one of plantain harvested per year. The models show that ECOM’s rehabilitation and management costs are repaid over three years, and a profit share or royalty payment paid to the farmer provides enough cash for the farmers to continue activities once ECOM no longer provides support.


The pilot overall, as measured by beneficiary satisfaction, was highly successful. Both men and women farmers, landlords and tenants, and leaders of Asankrangwa stool voiced their appreciation and satisfaction with accomplishments. The following list of final lessons and recommendations were drawn from the pilot:

  1. Build understanding of the relevance of land tenure and identify feasible interventions for private sector interests. Partners need to be provided with targeted and actionable information to participate.
  2. Time is required to fully apply learning and adaptive management principles. While lessons were learned in the pilot, they could not always be integrated into practice due to short timeframes.
  3. Document rights in advance of land disputes, where possible. Clarifying tenure can help to avoid disputes more easily than resolving disputes.
  4. For effective land rights documentation, focus on process, engagement and documenting the status “on the ground.” Rather than forcing customary rights to be converted to statutory leaseholds, use formal legal contracts to document the existing customary rights of farmers.
  5. Formalizing land rights in Ghana requires more than simply documentation. Engagement of the National House of Chiefs was important to codify land rights in traditional areas and discuss the relationship between indigene and stranger farmers.
  6. Food security and nutrition is an issue for cocoa farmers. Rehabilitation efforts must consider food security needs, particularly during the years before cocoa trees start producing.
  7. The Nyame Nnae pilot site is only one of multiple theories of change linking property rights to deforestation in Ghana. This pilot lessens the threat on a nearby gazetted forest and increases incentives to reduce deforestation of remnant and secondary forests within the community that now set in motion can be monitored in future years. Options for reducing deforestation at a larger landscape lever were identified and scaling up will need to demonstrate avoided deforestation impact.
  8. Not all smallholder farmers are equal; other rehabilitation pilots being tested are geared toward the privileged. The ECOM financial model can be sustainable, but will be difficult to scale up and reach poorer farmers without multiple plots or stranger farmers with insecure tenure.
  9. While documenting land rights was a success, tree rights documentation still needs to be considered. For farmers to fully benefit from their land rights, they need to have rights to all resources on their property.
  10. The project successfully demonstrated that a public-private partnership linking tenure documentation, alternative dispute resolution, community engagement, and financial modelling with cocoa rehabilitation was feasible. Cocoa companies welcome the addition of new services to their portfolio.
  11. Scalability remains a challenge. Wrapping the cost of documentation into cocoa farm rehabilitation should be explored in any future work.
  12. The government’s acceptance of formalization pilots is still a question. A wholesale mind shift that recognizes the need to build shade back into cocoa systems and improve productivity of cocoa on less land is starting to occur, but requires additional political will.
  13. Spend time on gender dynamics and social inclusion. Interventions must be designed so that community members better understand how women and different status groups engage within the community.
  14. A public-private model can be considered to help bear the costs of public goods. Private sector firms are offering services to their suppliers, and welcome the ability to work with public institutions and public policy.
  15. After all is said and done, consent of traditional authorities is the central ingredient for success. Traditional leaders need to be full partners in the process of documenting rights and should not just use the system to extract fees.

The generalized approach of using land administration, broadening access to finance, and assisting farmers with cocoa rehabilitation is broadly relevant to other geographies and commodities with adequate nuancing and tailoring to the context and constraints faced. There is a wealth of diverse land administration tools and approaches to draw upon, depending on the nature of tenure insecurity and financial constraints faced by small farmers. The approach is also broadly relevant for reducing deforestation although time is needed to determine the full impacts achieved. The GIS survey data collected by the pilot is broadly applicable to monitoring deforestation in the future with scaling, but further work would be required to determine how avoided deforestation impact could be measured and predicted.

Within this context, the setting has been established for ongoing efforts by the private and public sectors to develop a strategy for lowering cost and designing innovations that improve the livelihoods of Ghana’s cocoa farmers, promote sustainable cocoa cultivation that reduce deforestation pressures, improve the profitability of the chocolate industry, and provide consumers worldwide with high quality chocolate sourced from Ghana.

Intimate Partner Violence and Land Tenure


The US Government is committed to preventing and responding to gender-based violence (GBV). This commitment is articulated in policies, laws, and other guidance documents. For USAID, addressing GBV is one of the three pillars of the Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy (2012). By preventing and responding to GBV, USAID can help protect the human rights of women, girls, and other vulnerable people and guard against physical, psychological, and economic harms. By addressing GBV, the US Government also helps promote individual and community resilience and increase the ability of women, men, and their communities to live safe and productive lives.

Development programming can be an important force in combating GBV and a subset of GBV, Intimate Partner Violence (IPV).1 Some programming focuses on supporting legal and policy changes to make certain forms of GBV illegal or train law enforcement officials to recognize and respond to GBV. In other cases, programming focuses on empowering women economically as a possible pathway to prevent GBV or IPV. For example, helping women to acquire and leverage a secure asset base, including land and other property, can increase women’s status within households, enhance their decision-making powers and, in turn, reduce GBV or IPV and improve educational and health outcomes for women themselves and their children. In addition, women who hold secure rights to land and property may be better able to take advantage of livelihood opportunities, build or grow businesses, and contribute to economic growth and sustained development.

This report reviews existing literature to explore how, in some contexts, holding and controlling land and property rights can potentially empower women and reduce the likelihood of IPV particularly. Across the literature the incidence of IPV is high: 20 to 65 percent of respondents in these studies report IPV, with most of the studies reporting over 50 percent incidence of IPV. Some research, much of it from South Asia, suggests that empowering women with rights to land and property may help to prevent or mitigate harms from IPV, while other research reaches a more ambiguous or even contradictory conclusion. The evidence base for land tenure and property rights interventions as a pathway to preventing IPV directed at women is mixed. Research strongly suggests that the incidence or experience of IPV is highly context specific. Other factors, including prevailing social norms and support networks, the use or misuse of alcohol and drugs, socio-economic conditions, and childhood experiences may play important roles in determining if a woman experiences IPV.

Given the mixed state of the literature, the report recommends developing a sound understanding of local conditions before designing and implementing land tenure interventions to avoid creating situations that inadvertently harm women and their families. While land programming can be transformative and contribute to women’s economic and social empowerment, under some conditions activities may generate resentment and backlash and lead to harm.

The following recommendations are designed to help prevent or mitigate IPV in land tenure and property rights programming:

Higher level recommendations:

Develop and execute a robust research agenda that seeks to establish an evidence base for the impacts of land tenure and property rights interventions on IPV for women. Key questions to address include:

  • Which assets (physical, financial, and social) in what combination work well to prevent or reduce IPV?
  • Under what conditions does joint titling of property help to prevent to reduce IPV? Under what conditions, if any, might joint titling of property increase women’s risk for IPV?
  • What kinds of interventions work best to enhance women’s control and decision-making authority over land and property and do these interventions (alone and in combination) work to prevent or reduce IPV?
  • What interventions work best to shift men’s attitudes towards and use of IPV in response to women’s exercise of land and property rights?
  • Is secure homeownership a positive strategy for preventing or reducing IPV and under what social/economic conditions does it work best?
  • What is the association between the relative property wealth within a couple and the likelihood of IPV?
  • What property rights and land interventions work best to prevent or reduce IPV for younger women? For wives in polygamous marriages? For older women?

Program-level recommendations:

When initially conceptualizing a land tenure or property rights intervention:

  • Use a participatory approach to identify the specific factors that contribute to IPV in the proposed location and determine how pervasive these factors are. This may include participatory mapping exercises that identify stakeholders who may be affected by project activities to understand who supports and opposes women’s exercise of rights to own and control land and property and for what reasons.
  • If increasing women’s ownership of or control over land and property may increase the risk of IPV, work with a GBV specialist and the intended beneficiaries to identify risk mitigation strategies to increase the capabilities of women and men to negotiate asset control and decision making, mediate conflict over asset ownership or control that may lead to IPV, and hold those who perpetrate IPV accountable for harms. Ensure strategies provide feedback to enable learning and to allow for adjustments.

When designing a land tenure or property rights intervention consider the following:

If the project will operate in an environment that is only moderately supportive of gender equality or that is highly unsupportive of gender equality consider the following:

  • Include a GBV risk assessment (including IPV) or GBV safety audit to identify risk factors, community characteristics, kinds of support and safety services available to address GBV and IPV, local governance structures, and how rules and norms are enforced and against whom.
  • Identify and work with traditional authorities and religious leaders who can serve as advocates for women’s peaceful and safe exercise of their land and property rights and who can serve as role models and mentors to other men and boys.
  • Identify and work with women who can serve as advocates for women’s peaceful and safe exercise of their land and property rights and build skills to participate in traditional and formal land governance institutions.
  • Work with law enforcement officials to change attitudes and to improve enforcement of laws against GBV and IPV in cases where women exercise their land and property rights and face backlash and violence as a result.
  • Include a behavior change component to influence the attitudes and practices of women and men around women’s land and property rights and IPV and build awareness of strategies to reduce acceptance of, and toleration for, IPV related to the use and control of land. Create spaces for discussion and dialogue that are accessible, safe, and comfortable for both women and men.
  • Consider supporting access to confidential and accessible support services for women who face GBV or IPV because they participate in land and property rights programming. This may include health care (including mental health care), mediation, or para-legal services.

Building Bridges to Peace (BBP) Final Evaluation Report

The USAID/CMM-funded Building Bridges to Peace (BBP) program sought to address the key causes of conflict in and around northern Karamoja by engaging communities in inter-group dialogues and joint livelihoods projects that build mutual interest and promote reconciliation. Its main objectives were to strengthen local mechanisms for conflict mitigation, support reconciliation through dialogues and trust-building measures, and build cooperation and address key causes of violence through joint livelihoods projects.

This final assessment seeks to provide a comprehensive and accurate understanding of the current conditions in the Building Bridges to Peace (BBP) program sites, and, most importantly, of changes made since the program’s start date in May 2009. The main objectives of this evaluation are to assess changes in key indicators from the mid-term assessment and to explore what, if any, impact the cultural dialogues/exchanges and the joint livelihoods projects had on not only the level of violence, but also the relationships and interactions between the conflicting communities.

The key findings are based on data collected from household surveys and participatory assessment tools.

BPRP Final Report: 2007-2011

Burundi, one of the most densely populated and poorest countries in sub-Saharan Africa, has recently emerged from more than decade of civil war that devastated the political and social landscape of the country. The Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement was signed on August 28, 2000, which put in place a transitional government for the next four and a half years. Democratic and fair elections were held in 2005 and the process of implementing the peace agreement between the government and the last rebel group, the National Liberation Forces (FNL), concluded on June 10, 2008 with the signature of the Peace Accord. Two years after the 2005 elections, the Burundi Policy Reform project received a $11 million contract (subsequently adjusted to $9.2 million for budget reasons) from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to improve relations between the government, civil society, and media to promote more open communication and foster a transparent and participatory policy process. Through training, policy discussions, and grant-making, the project built the capacity of the different sectors to become familiar with various policy reform issues and create open dialogue on policy matters in an informed, participatory, and inclusive manner. By creating this synergy, the project was able to assist in identifying policy gaps, assessing sector roles, and creating meaningful policy reform.

The project worked through collaborative and inclusive processes in crucial policy areas such as anti-corruption, good governance, land reform, water management, women’s inheritance, human rights, and elections. The project’s impact in these areas shows clear and sustainable benefits for Burundians across the country. Some will see an immediate impact, for example Burundians in parts of the interior of the country now receiving radio coverage on issues affecting the population thanks to media equipment provided by the project. Others will see a long-term positive change, such as from the positive effects of anti-corruption reform.

Good governance. Throughout the past four years, the project team worked with the Burundi government to improve policy development capacity through targeted training, roundtable discussions, and larger-scale public promotion efforts. In 2008, a high-level government retreat was held for the president and his ministers where they discussed policy priorities and interacted together for the first time as newly elected officials. Following the government retreat, the president said the retreat was a huge success for his administration and for the country. He expressed his gratitude to USAID and stated that it was the first time his cabinet had been given the opportunity to work together in a unified manner to arrive at a consensus on fundamental issues facing the country. Many important commitments made during this retreat turned into concrete actions during the project period.

By training elected government officials and government spokespersons on their respective roles, responsibilities, and obligation for accountability, the public was given improved access to services and information about government initiatives and reforms. Internally, within the Ministry of Good Governance and Privatization, the project improved capacity of ministry staff to inform the public about its mission, increase transparency through enhanced lines of communication, and create more effective governance. Additionally, the project focused on anti-corruption, a high-profile and sensitive issue in Burundi. The project not only promoted strategies to prevent, monitor, and create sanctions for instances of corruption but also worked with the government as implementers, with civil society as advocates and monitors, and with the media as liaisons to the public. By employing an inclusive training methodology, the different sectors of society were able to acknowledge and commit to creating an improved culture of oversight, transparency, public disclosure, and information sharing. In addition to government officials acknowledging the existence of corruption, many civil society groups and others now talk about it openly. Tangible advances were made in this area through open communication, progress upon recommendations for amendments to the anti-corruption law, and the translation of the law into Kirundi, the national language. Civil society and media organizations were also engaged in implementing campaigns on the anti-corruption law to raise awareness of the government’s accountability obligations and citizens’ rights. The project also trained civil society organizations in the concept and techniques of participative advocacy to help civil society work collaboratively with the government to achieve reform. In this vein, the project also supported the creation of a network to monitor the use of public resources.

Elections. In 2009, the project contributed to increased transparency and integrity in the electoral process by an analysis of the electoral code followed by a roundtable that helped stakeholders learn about international standards for elections and reach common ground on ways that the electoral code should be revised. The collaborative approach demonstrated the need to have government officials and civil society representatives involved in improving the electoral process. A few of the proposed revisions from the roundtable, such as those related to updating lists of registered voters and to using national identity cards on election day, were retained in the code that passed parliament. The project also printed voluminous copies of legal texts, electoral code, and illustrated voting process guidelines during the 2010 elections, and financed radio spots on the voting process to increase understanding and encourage transparency by all voters and election commissions.

Land reform. The project’s integral participation in all aspects of passing a revised land code led to meaningful policy reform that has already begun and will continue to affect change in the lives of rural and urban Burundians. From the beginning of the project, the Chemonics team has worked closely with the Burundi government on a more substantive and effective land code. Together, with various government ministries, international donor partners, civil society, and the media, the project proposed, organized, and facilitated public forums throughout the country to discuss changes to the land code. The project also developed a highly successful national media campaign to inform the population about the law and generate public support. After several years of work by the project team and government officials, the parliament and senate passed the land code and the president signed it into law. To continue to benefit the population, the project created, printed, and distributed a layman’s mini-guide in Kirundi that explains the law’s practical application and ensures that all levels of society will have a clear understanding of their new rights and responsibilities. The project also printed posters explaining the land registration process, developed a training manual to be used by trainers to ensure consistent content and methodology for the training of officials, and printed 4,000 copies of the land code for distribution. All tools were given to the Ministry of Water, Environment, Land Management, and Urban Planning for distribution.

Water resource management. The project helped policymakers make the first significant progress on a national water policy since the last effort stalled in 2001. By conducting analysis and public validation of two sectoral policies for water resource management, the project was able to move forward with an informed and focused effort. The Burundi Policy Reform project worked with the Burundi government to create and validate a national water code to improve water management. By educating members of the National Assembly to further advocate for the adoption of the code, parliamentarians understood the urgency for adoption of the water code to establish water regulation procedures. The project facilitated the law’s translation into English, a first for Burundi, and a move that will encourage better regional cooperation on water resource management. Further, the project drafted the decree that will establish a water regulatory authority to enable quick implementation of the water code following promulgation.

Human rights. The project worked to strengthen the institutional capacity of civil society organizations, particularly those focused on women, to advocate for gender-based violence, victims of torture, and conflict management. By launching campaigns and engaging in effective discourse with the government and the media, civil society groups were able to open up about the sensitive and often dangerous nature of supporting human rights, which led to increased awareness and understanding. The project created a consortium of organizations working in human rights to strengthen advocacy efforts to eradicate torture in Burundi. Multiple grants were given to build further organizational and financial capacity as well as to advocate for women’s, children’s, and/or victims’ rights.

Conclusion. This report discusses the details of how the reform processes made actual improvements in the lives of Burundian across various sectors through informed, collaborative, and participatory processes. By creating an environment that encourages transparency and opens up lines of communication, the project was able to increase the visibility of various ministries and organizations. By promoting advocacy and political participation skills among women leaders and civil society, a more inclusive and well-rounded policy reform process will evolve. The focus on combating corruption, managing land through a detailed and fair process, using water responsibly, advocating for the elimination of torture, and governing effectively and efficiently will continue to remain as long-term objectives for the policy reform process in Burundi. The project’s Burundian-led approach allowed the team to work in close collaboration with national and international partners remaining flexible in an ever-changing challenging and sensitive environment. During the project term, the team identified ways to prioritize policy issues, promote increased civic participatory advocacy, support media involvement in the political process, and reach consensus in a collaborative way to produce effective policy reform.

Caribbean Open Trade Support (COTS) Final Report: A Review of the Draft Quarry Code of Practice

The Caribbean Open Trade Support (COTS) program of USAID/Barbados is designed to facilitate the transition of selected Organization of Eastern Caribbean States member states to open trade, and to enable the countries to compete more successfully and be more sustainable in the global economy. To this end, COTS will implement a wide range of activities over a four-year period geared toward:

  1. Enabling businesses to compete more effectively in the global economy
  2. Enhancing public-private sector interaction and dialogue leading to improved public policy dialogue
  3. Assisting government institutions and agencies to remove administrative barriers to growth of the private sector
  4. Increasing the private sector’s and the media’s understanding of the challenges and opportunities of the new trading regimes
  5. Increasing the region’s resilience to natural disasters
  6. Mitigating the impacts of human disturbance on ecosystems and improving the institutional framework for managing protected areas

The economic future of the Eastern Caribbean is intimately linked to the ability of the sub-region to protect its rich biodiversity endowment while allowing for sustainable use. COTS has joined forces with government, civil society, and private sector conservation activities to support biodiversity conversation and policy, to better understand the costs and economic benefits of in situ conservation, to identify and mitigate the impacts of human disturbance on ecosystems, to improve the institutional framework for managing protected areas and to develop economic activities compatible with conservation. In conformity with USAID Biodiversity Code, COTS strives to implement biodiversity conservation activities that are threats-based, site-specific, and that lead to explicit biodiversity actions and measurable improvement.

In terms of direct threats to marine biodiversity, the project has identified coastal zone management issues including quarrying, wastewater discharge and improper civil works that threaten critical marine habitats through sedimentation and nutrient discharge. Yet, the most significant threat appears to be coastal quarry operations. Because of heavy demand for construction material throughout the Caribbean, quarrying activity in Dominica has increased.

Until very recently, all the quarrying industries operated north of Roseau (capital city) on the west side of the island, between the communities of Coulibistrie and Colihaut. This area comprised one of the oldest and largest sites and has been in use for more than 30 years, with smaller sites around the island in use for a little over a decade. Last year, a new site came into operation south of Roseau in the community of Pointe-Michel. Recently, a new permit has been granted for a quarry in Coulibistrie for a site of approximately 200 acres.

Extraction of basaltic rock for construction gravel occurs most often in steep areas, adjacent to important surface water features, and nearly always within a kilometer of the coast itself where a very important fishery is located.

The quarry industry in Dominica has evolved so far in an unregulated (i.e., lack of enforcement) environment. However in recent years the tourism industry has become very concerned by the extent of the operations and the impact on the landscape of the “Nature Island.” Communities where the sites are located complain about respiratory problems and fishermen claim that their catches are declining. Concerned by the negative impact of the industry on marine biodiversity, COTS aims to work with the various administrations involved (Land Planning, Fisheries, Forestry and Environment), as well as with the quarries themselves to help navigate these concerns.

The Government of Dominica has signaled its intention to mitigate the impact of quarry operations on the natural environment and, as a result, has drafted a Quarry Code of Practice that is proposed to become the legal mechanism to drive environmental performance and compliance within the industry.

Approach to Participatory Management of Natural Resources (APMNR) Final Report

The Approach to Participatory Management of Natural Resources (APMNR) Project sought to help mitigate and manage conflict in two ayil okmotu (rural communities) along the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border.

This final report covers activities approved by USAID in the workplan attached as Annex One. Activities were undertaken by RDI and its local implementing partner, Rural Development Fund (RDF), with whom RDI has a sub-agreement.

This report first provides some background on the issues that the APMNR Project attempted to address, as well as the goal and objectives of the Project. It briefly introduces each activity in the workplan (see Annex One), provides a summary of major results achieved, identifies obstacles encountered during implementation, and details progress made towards program objectives with an emphasis on measurement using indicators established in the workplan. Project activities are listed below.

  1. Situational Analysis
  2. Integrate International Experience
  3. Community Mapping of Resource Allocation and Use
  4. Conflict Management Plan
  5. Micro-Projects
  6. Public Information and Awareness
  7. Lessons Learned

Bolivia Land Titling Program (BLTP) Final Report

In the 1990s, a lack of legal security in rural property rights was identified as one of the main obstacles to economic development in the Cochabamba Tropics. As this is an area that has been recently settled, in most cases property rights were originally based on the occupation of state-owned lands, recognized at the time of settlement by territorial organizations formed by settlers, or on land endowments by the National Institute for Colonization in the 1970s and 1980s.

Over the years, these property rights, acquired through possession or endowments, were transferred to third parties through private documents. As a result, today more than 60% of land owners in the Cochabamba Tropics have obtained their land by purchasing it. Without a title issued by the State and registered in Derechos Reales (the Property Registry System), land rights are not legally established and informal land owners do not benefit from all of the safeguards provided by the law.

In order to overcome this state of legal insecurity, troubling most rural/agrarian property, the Bolivian government began a project to regularize land rights based upon the National Agrarian Reform Service Law (Ley del Servicio Nacional de Reforma Agraria), better known as the INRA Law of 1996. This law exists today in a second stage known as the new Community Reorganization of Agrarian Reform Law (Reconducción Comunitaria de la Reforma Agraria) of 2006.

Through a bilateral agreement supporting alternative development in the Cochabamba Tropics, the Bolivian Government and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID/Bolivia) partnered to manage a project focused on the fast, large-scale regularization of property rights in the Cochabamba Tropics. This project served as an additional component to the integrated development focus offering economic development alternatives in the region.

Initially, the Project was to last for thirty months with the primary objective of helping the National Institute for Agrarian Reform (Instituto Nacional de Reforma Agraria, or INRA) finish land titling in the Cochabamba Tropics, a process that began in 1999 with the assistance of a program financed by the European Community. With this new support from USAID/Bolivia, it was anticipated that INRA would not only verify land ownership rights and title all of the region’s properties, but also develop and validate a fast, large-scale, low-cost property rights regularization process that could be applied in other similar regions of the country.

In October 2006, the Project was extended for eighteen months in order to incorporate as many tracts of land as possible into the property rights regularization process, and to support a municipality of the region in developing and launching the first integrated municipal cadastre in the country, as an instrument for administrating municipal territory.

When the Project concluded in May 2008, 467,259 hectares of land, corresponding to 37,073 properties had been incorporated into the property rights regularization process in the Cochabamba Tropics, and the Municipal Government of Villa Tunari had completed the installation of the first integrated municipal cadastre in the country. Both achievements have a nation-wide impact since, on the one hand, the tools that were developed and validated by INRA have been included in the new INRA Law and the National Land Ownership Verification and Titling Plan (Plan Nacional de Saneamiento y Titulación) and, on the other, the Bolivian Federation of Municipal Associations (Federación de Asociaciones Municipales de Bolivia, or FAM) has adopted the integrated municipal cadastre as a national model for its members.

The role of the Bolivia Land Titling Project (BLTP) was to provide financial and technical assistance to four government institutions involved in the process of regularizing property rights and in establishing a municipal cadastre. INRA and the Office of Derechos Reales are the key institutions in the regularization of property rights. These two institutions, as well as the Municipal Government and the Vice-Ministry of Urban Development are involved in the development and installation of the municipal cadastre.

Results-oriented management was used with these institutions as a mechanism for efficiently allocating resources based on concrete goals and the achievement of agreed-upon results. In order to facilitate results oriented management, a monitoring and evaluation system was designed and implemented to allow both employees and the concerned public determine where and in what stage one’s paperwork was. For its users, this system dispelled the mystery and frustration of cumbersome legal paperwork that characterize many public services in Bolivia and that encourage informality in issues such as property rights.

This Final Report is divided into four sections that attempt to communicate the rich experience of all those involved in the processes, both land owners and public employees. In Section One, the geographic and demographic characteristics of the Cochabamba Tropics are described. In Section Two, the complex process of regularization, also known as land ownership verification (saneamiento) and property titling (titulación), is addressed. Sections Three and Four present the Project’s impact on public service beneficiaries and institutional capacity building. Testimonies in the beneficiaries’ own words are presented throughout the Report in order to highlight the Project’s impact on individuals, the region and the institutions involved.

ABC-LA Final Report: Volumes 1 and 2

The purpose of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Addressing Biodiversity-Social Conflict in Latin America (ABC-LA) project was to address the adverse environmental and social impacts in the region associated with extractive activities, including direct and indirect threats to biodiversity and negative impacts on vulnerable groups.

Overview: Threats from both legal and illegal exploitation of natural resources have been exacerbated by the lack of state presence, will, or capacity to protect biologically significant areas (BSAs) and vulnerable communities. Unclear, conflicting policies and corrupt practices have hindered transparency and accountability and add perceived insult to pre-existing injury. When coupled with historical grievances, this situation fosters a powerful mix of resentment and serves as a fundamental driver of conflict and the conditions for social and other forms of conflict. Mistrust among key stakeholders—including the state, the private sector, and communities—undermines the basis for developing a shared vision and collaborative action to advance and optimize common aims, including the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and the well-being of vulnerable communities.

Goals and Objectives: The goal of ABC-LA was to improve enabling conditions for biodiversity conservation through enhanced natural resource governance and reduced socio-environmental conflict associated with extractive activities, contributing to the long-term impact of reducing degradation and contamination of biophysical conditions in the selected biologically BSAs of Peru and Colombia.

Strategic Planning and Approach: ABC-LA sought to achieve critical aims and end results in Peru and Colombia in a manner responsive to USAID and the project’s scope of work and corresponding theory of change.

Initial program assessments: Following mobilization, during the project’s initial outreach and engagement with field-based stakeholders, the team designed, developed, and conducted a series of scoping studies—initial program assessments (IPAs)—in selected areas of Peru and Colombia. The purposes of the IPAs were to better inform the definition and approach of critical tasks through a threats-based analysis of biodiversity conditions, including the impacts of extractive activities on BSAs, and to assess local dynamics such as power relations and the nature of social conflict in prospective focal areas. The IPA findings helped inform the project’s approach and key decisions made in consultation with USAID: site selection of ABC-LA’s focal areas, further development and refinement of ABC-LA’s situational analysis and theory of change, work-planning, early partnering efforts, and the design of programmatic interventions and activities.

Site selection of focal areas: ABC-LA, in consultation with USAID, selected the focal areas of the Puno and Ucayali regions of Peru and the departments of Caquetá and Santander in Colombia. Within these focal areas, programmatic priority during the base period centered on the area of influence of the Sierra del Divisor National Park and the Lower Amazon Basin in Ucayali and the Bahuaja Sonene National Park and surrounding areas of influence in the Upper Amazon Basin in Puno. Within the focal areas of Colombia, the project prioritized efforts in three key municipalities in the Amazon Piedmont and Lower Amazon Basin of Caquetá, and in the municipalities that border the ecologically important Santurban Paramo in the department of Santander.

ABC-LA incorporated the following thematic areas in accordance with the project’s design:

  • Biodiversity – Interventions to support the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity were informed by an analysis of direct and indirect threats to BSAs, especially pressures associated with extractive activities.
  • Social conflict – The project developed a conceptual and methodological framework for improving local capacities to better prevent and manage socio-environmental conflict in the selected focal areas. Programming focused on skills and tools development to enable local actors to better identify, analyze, and address sources and symptoms of current and emerging conflicts.
  • Extractive activities – ABC-LA’s point of entry was at the local or provincial government levels in the focal areas of Peru and Colombia, where increasing levels of legal and illegal extractive activities pose challenges to the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity and community well-being.
  • Vulnerable groups – Project interventions prioritized assessment, engagement, and empowerment of vulnerable or historically marginalized populations, including indigenous communities, at risk or negatively affected by extractive activities and their associated impacts.
  • Land use and property rights – ABC-LA identified alternative land-use planning mechanisms and tools to help local governments improve inclusive planning processes, with the aim of improving the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity.

In addition to considerations of these core and complementary areas of programmatic focus within this final report, more detailed treatment is provided in the thematic issues papers included as Annex III.

Implementation: The project consisted of four distinct phases: start-up and mobilization; outreach, planning, and design; project activity implementation, management, and monitoring; and the final phase, including project close-down. ABC-LA designed, developed, and awarded or initiated 14 activities during the base period upon USAID’s November 2014 approval of the project’s updated work plan and theory of change.

Working with local stakeholders, ABC-LA and local partners provided technical assistance and implemented a range of activities in 17 municipalities and 58 indigenous communities in the focal areas to improve capacities and skills of institutions and people and provide access to tools and methods necessary to better address environmental and social challenges posed by extractive activities.

Results and Programmatic Highlights: ABC-LA generated a series of results over the base period as measured by performance indicators developed through its Situational Model and Theory of Change.

MAST Final Project Report


The Mobile Application to Secure Tenure (MAST) pilot project (2014-2016) was originally designed to test a concept: can a participatory or crowdsourced approach to capturing land rights information using mobile technology be deployed and used effectively to create an inventory of land rights? Over the course of the pilot, the focus of efforts expanded from testing a concept to actually delivering formalized documentation of land rights in collaboration with the Government of Tanzania (GOT).

As the goals of the pilot shifted over the past 15 months, the project worked closely with the District Land Office in Iringa Rural District (DLO), the Iringa Rural District Government, the National Land Use Planning Commission (NLUPC) and the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development (MOL) to:

  • Develop an easy-to-use mobile application that meets the requirements for delivery of Certificates of Customary Rights of Occupancy (CCROs) to villagers; and
  • Develop a participatory methodology for securing land rights, that meets the requirements of Tanzania’s land laws, provides focused training on women’s land rights and engages with villagers – called Trusted Intermediaries – in the land mapping and documentation process.

The pilot grew out of an idea proposed in a paper entitled “Crowdsourcing Support of Land Administration – a new, collaborative partnership between citizens and land professionals.” This seminal paper presented an innovative approach to addressing the land tenure gap and focused on the possibility of “crowdsourcing” property information by working with local people. It challenged land professionals to re-conceive how land administration services might be managed and delivered. The paper outlined a new citizen-centered collaborative model for land administration that would be more responsive to the needs of the disadvantaged and vulnerable, increase access to land markets, reduce costs associated with formalizing land rights and, as a result, increase security.

The MAST pilot activity was designed to test the hypotheses presented in this paper and to support USAID development objectives, particularly the use of science and technology to resolve development problems. The pilot has provided field-based insights into the following:

  1. Citizens’ and communities’ reaction to and engagement with the approach and its impact on perception of tenure security;
  2. The ability of the surveying profession / land professionals to support efforts to crowdsource land rights information in a collaborative manner with citizens;
  3. The characteristics of a good ‘Trusted Intermediary’ (TI) to support the capture and maintenance of land rights information;
  4. Identify what land rights information must be captured to meet the legal requirements of the Government of Tanzania;
  5. Test a range of technology tools available and identifying the most affordable and appropriate to support the approach;
  6. Establish approaches for sustaining the maintenance and security of land right information after the pilot and expanding its use; and
  7. Explore how the results from the pilot can be shared and the lessons and practical applications expanded, replicated and scaled for USAID and others.

The MAST pilot provided an opportunity for USAID, in partnership with the GOT, to design, develop and deliver a new approach to securing land rights in a context where demands for land are rising, conflict over land is wide-spread, and social norms limit the ability of women to exercise their legal rights to land.


The MAST Pilot originally anticipated conducting three pilots in different countries and environments, with a variety of cultural, legal, land tenure, administrative and professional landscapes, in order to gather as much experience as possible to shape and guide the way of inventorying land rights. Tanzania was selected as the site of the first pilot, and subsequently for the second and third pilots. Through comprehensive stakeholder engagement and review of the country’s land administration framework, ERC determined that the objectives of the pilot aligned with the needs of the Government of Tanzania to demarcate and secure rural land rights, to identify methods to help improve the delivery of land administration services to citizens, and to stimulate economic development, particularly by promoting large-scale investment in agriculture.

During the past decade, Tanzania has experienced high rates of economic growth, due in large part to sound economic reforms.  As part of its development agenda, Tanzania has encouraged large scale investments in agriculture, both domestic and foreign, recognizing the role that investment in key sectors of the economy can play in fostering domestic growth.

In 2009, a strategy called ‘Kilimo Kwanza’, meaning ‘Agriculture First’ or “Priority to Agriculture” was designed to attract investment in agriculture and underscored the critical importance of the private sector participating actively in agricultural production (Tenga, W. and Kironde, L. 2012).  The Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) was launched in 2010 to operationalize Kilimo Kwanza.  Subsequently, in 2013, the GOT’s Big Results Now (BRN) initiative, which aims to support the improvement of commercial agriculture in partnership with the private sector and smallholder farmers, was also launched. BRN aligns with the Government’s Vision 2025 goals of increasing food security and reducing poverty across the country.

However, investments in the agriculture sector have been hampered by weaknesses in the land administration system. Given that the vast majority of claims to property are undocumented, the GOT and investors do not always have a clear understanding of which lands are available for commercial development. Smallholders who lack documented land rights may be more vulnerable to lose land or lose of access to critical resources. For women, social norms often prevent them from fully exercising rights to land they hold under the law.  These constraints may limit investments needed to improve agricultural productivity.

Previous land registration projects introduced various methodologies and provided practical field experience for the formalization of property rights under the existing legal framework.  These previous interventions often required large upfront investments (i.e. GPS equipment, GIS software and computer investments) and required sustained technical assistance and/or material resources, which were not always available. The results and impact, therefore, have been limited.

MAST was designed to capture land rights information in a manner that is consistent with the requirements of the Village Land Act of 1999, but that can be implemented in a more efficient and cost-effective manner than previous projects.  MAST supported decentralized land administration service delivery and thus presented an opportunity to help the GOT provide an efficient and participatory registration processes at the village level.

With GOT involvement and support of the pilot, and with a level of acceptance among stakeholders, USAID decided to focus the pilot’s efforts in Tanzania and expanded from work in one village to work in three villages. This changed the focus of the pilot from an exploratory exercise to a more formal test of the technology and the participatory approach that was used in the context of one country with a specific land administration framework. This scale up presented opportunities to build on the work already conducted in Tanzania, but also presented challenges, which are discussed in the full report linked below.