Landless and Displaced: The Struggle for Housing, Land and Property Rights in eastern DR Congo

December 2023
Norwegian Refugee Council

This 12-page briefing note from the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) highlights critical land issues for those who have been impacted by decades of conflict in the eastern parts of the DRC. Access to land not only triggers and perpetuates conflict but is also impacted by the same conflict – something of a vicious cycle. Landlessness is a key element of the humanitarian crisis in the region, both for displaced communities and communities hosting displaced people. The briefing states that land disputes were the second most common reason for displacement in 2022. It emphasises the importance for humanitarian actors in the region to seek to understand the housing, land and property rights (HLP) context and conduct HLP due diligence so that they a) don’t make matters worse, and b) potentially contribute to solutions even while still operating in an emergency setting. The briefing note observes that humanitarian workers need to identify and engage with different types of local landowners, community representatives and traditional and customary authorities as part of their role, and these can provide information useful for HLP due diligence. However, lack of funding is a key constraint. The document outlines a number of sensible policy recommendations for humanitarian operators, donors, and humanitarian and United Nations leaders, to improve integration of HLP issues across the humanitarian sector.