Mekong Region Land Governance – Phase I

Project details


Mekong Region


Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)

Project Timeframe

April 2014 – September 2018

Key Services

Gender, Community & Inclusion

Governance, Policy & Institutional Strengthening

Research & Analysis

Land Administration

The Mekong Region Land Governance Phase 1 Project aimed to support family farmers in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, especially those belonging to ethnic minorities, to have secure and equitable access to and control over land, forest, and fisheries.

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 Phase 1 Project aimed to identify reform actors in the land governance sector in CLMV countries and develop their effectiveness. This was done by facilitating alliances among multi-stakeholder groups, and exploiting opportunities to strengthen individual and organisational capacity, which enabled them to influence positive change in policy and practice. The underlying hypothesis was 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.

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

Key services provided

The project engaged 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 included:

1. Policy Development and Improved Land Governance Practice: This involved 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 managed two funding facilities to encourage innovation and allow flexibility and responsiveness to windows of opportunity for change.

  • Quick Disbursement Facility (QDF): This facility supported short-term activities that contributed to land tenure security and responded to windows of opportunity in anticipated or ongoing government policy processes.
  • Innovation Facility (IF): This facility supported medium-term (1-2 years) pilots of innovative practices. The IF was the main instrument to translate new knowledge (acquired through learning components in the project) into changed practices through local, national and Mekong region initiatives and projects.

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

  • Peer learning and alliance building – LEI managed a USD 2.4m fund to support learning and alliance-building activities on a demand-led basis. National Land Governance Facilitators in each country facilitated and organised exchange, learning, cooperation and pairing within and between government, civil society and private sector stakeholder groups. A Regional Coordinator supported peer learning and coordinated structured learning visits across project target countries.
  • National and regional workshops – These provided administrative, technical and financial support to workshops, with the aim of sharing knowledge and experience, building alliances, and developing stakeholder capacity.
  • Linking with regional and global initiatives – There was funding representation (of national reform actors) at national, Mekong region and global land fora – linking policy to relevant global agreements such as the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGTs). Land issues were 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 supported the following activities, with the intention of enhancing reform actor effectiveness in securing smallholder tenure:

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

The MRLG Project provided a range of different capacity building and learning opportunities to land governance stakeholders. It was designed to be responsive to stakeholder demands, which ensured activities were sustainable. The flexible and responsive funding approaches enabled the project to evolve according to the needs and trends of the immediate context. The project acted 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 now available to governments in the Mekong region, as well as other land-related projects. The MRLG project supported stakeholders with cross-country exchange and learning at the regional level. Finally, stakeholders within the target countries can now access global expertise.

Prev Project Next Project

Let’s Collaborate

Contact Us