Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) Project

Innovative ways of addressing land governance to improve family farmers’ access to natural resources in the Mekong Region.
Project narrative

Land governance is at the centre of development challenges in the Mekong Region. Significant areas of family farmed lands have been handed over to investors, which is a major driver of poverty and food insecurity. Improving land governance and developing pro-poor land policies is crucial for sustainable economic and social development. 

The MRLG Project aims to identify reform actors in the land governance sector in CLMV countries and develop their effectiveness. This is done through a facilitated alliance-building of multi-stakeholder groups, and opportunities for strengthening individual and organisational capacity to enable them to influence positive change in policy and practice. The underlying hypothesis is, that:

  • if reform actors are more efficient and effective in promoting and protecting family farmers’ land tenure rights, and
  • if they can take part in multi-stakeholder alliances, then
  • they are more likely to be able to influence favourable changes in policies and practices in the land governance sectors of CLMV countries.

This in turn will lead to positive developments, ensuring that: “Family farmers in CLMV countries, especially those belonging to ethnic minorities, have secure and equitable access to and control over land, forest, and fisheries”

The project is designed with the intention of providing support in the four Mekong countries over a period of up to eight years. LEI is co-implementing the first phase with Gret, Professionals for Fair Development.

Description of key services provided

The project engages with a wide range of stakeholders, including government, private sector, academia and civil society to support research, share key learnings, build capacity, encourage evidence-based policy making, and develop networks and alliances. Key services and activities include:

1. Policy Development and Improved Land Governance Practice – This involves identifying policy openings and priority reforms, focusing on windows of opportunity for change, providing knowledge and technical support to support evidence based policy making, and networking.

2. Grant Funding Facilities Management – We are managing two funding facilities to encourage innovation and allow flexibility and responsiveness to windows of opportunity for change.

(i) Quick Disbursement Facility (QDF): This facility supports short-term activities that contribute to land tenure security and responds to windows of opportunity in anticipated or ongoing government policy processes.

(ii) Innovation Facility (IF): This facility supports medium-term (1-2 years) pilots of innovative practices. The IF is the main instrument to translate new knowledge (acquired through learning components in the project) into changed practices through local, national and regional initiatives and projects.

3. Learning and Alliance building – To build reform actor capacity and take collective action for improved land governance, the project has a flexible learning and alliance building mechanism for:

  • Peer learning and alliance building – LEI manages a USD 2.4m fund to support learning and alliance-building activities on a demand-led basis. National Land Governance Facilitators in each country facilitate and organise exchange, learning, cooperation and pairing within and between government, civil society and private sector stakeholder groups. A Regional Coordinator supports peer learning and coordinates structured learning visits across project target countries.
  • National and regional workshops – These provide administrative, technical and financial support to workshops, with the aim of knowledge and experience sharing, alliance building, and stakeholder capacity development.
  • Linking with regional and global initiatives – There is funding representation (of national reform actors) at national, regional and global land forums – linking policy to relevant global agreements such as the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGTs). Land issues are recognised and promoted as cross-cutting issues fundamental to gender, food security, urban development, climate change, infrastructure development, and private sector investment.

4. Knowledge Management – The MRLG Project supports the following activities, with the intention of enhancing reform actor effectiveness in securing small holder tenure:

  • Research mapping – We are reviewing and assembling published information and grey literature on land governance challenges and responses in the Mekong, identifying areas for further research, and providing a publically-accessible repository of reliable published information on land governance.
  • Information collection, analysis and dissemination – As priority research and policy areas are identified by the project, research has been commissioned and case studies published to support improved land governance.

The MRLG Project provides a range of different capacity building and learning opportunities to land governance stakeholders. It is designed to be responsive to stakeholder demands, which ensures activities are sustainable. The flexible and responsive funding approaches enable the project to evolve according to the needs and trends of the immediate context. The project acts as a multiple stakeholder platform for technical and financial assistance for capacity building, learning, networking and practical collaboration. Comprehensive, up-to-date and accessible information and analysis is available to governments in the Mekong region, as well as other land-related projects. The MRLG project supports stakeholders with cross-country exchange and learning at the regional level. Finally, stakeholders within the target countries are can access global expertise.