The Challenge of Protecting Community Land Rights: An Investigation into Community Responses to Requests for Land and Resources

November 2019
Namati (Rachael Knight)

From 2009-2015 Namati and partners CTV in Mozambique, LEMU in Uganda and SDI in Liberia supported more than 100 communities to document and protect their customary land rights. In late 2017 Namati evaluated the impacts the process had on communities’ responses to outsiders seeking community lands and natural resources. Of the 61 communities assessed, 46% had been approached by outside actors seeking community lands and natural resources since completing their land protection efforts. Overall, the stories clearly show how, on their own, community land protection initiatives did not adequately balance the significant power asymmetries inherent in interactions between rural communities and government officials, whether coming on their own behalf or accompanying potential investors. The stories described illustrate broad-based corruption that allows land to be claimed by powerful elites and government institutions with little regard for required legal procedures.